The Electric Palace is one of the earliest surviving purpose-built cinemas. In most countries movie films were first shown to public audiences in existing buildings, such as theatres or corn exchanges, or in portable auditoria at fairgrounds, such as that displayed from time to time at the Netherlands Open Air Museum at Arnhem. In Britain the Cinematograph Act of 1909 made obligatory the provision of at last two exits from auditoria where films were shown, and of separate fireproofed projection rooms, and thereafter most cinemas were purpose-built.
The Electric Palace was built in 1911 for a travelling showman, Charles Thurston, to the design of the architect, Harold R Hooper. It retains its original façade, its entrance lobby and projection room, together with a small stage and adjacent changing rooms, and a generator with a 2.1 m diameter flywheel that was formerly powered by a gas engine. The cinema closed in 1956, but was listed in 1972, and re-opened as a club cinema in 1981.