It’s been quite hard to unravel the story of this Skegness cinema (which took my fancy while researching some holiday photographs – or walking pictures – for a book). Most web pages simply say it opened in 1922 (the BBC has 1926), but clearly the building in the photo above is later than that. In fact there was a Tower Theatre on this site, which opened in 1921 but was a cinema from day one. An ornate building, it was badly damaged during WW2. Skegness was not a primary target, but enemy bombers often unloaded on small towns on their way back from industrial sites like Hull.)
The opportunity was taken to rebuild the front after the War in a modernist style. The new cinema building (which did keep some parts of the original structure to save money), named the Tower Cinema (after the Tower Gardens behind it) opened in 1951. The style was perhaps passing by then but it is a really attractive building, with different coloured bricks giving the two tone effect, and some faience work to pick out parts of the facade (mostly now hidden behind hoardings.)
In more recent times the building has been jerked about, with an amusement arcade now occupying the ground floor, and just two sub-200 seater screens on an upper floor.
I’m not sure how sustainable all this is, and the owners want to mess even further if this recent recladding proposal I spotted ever gets off the drawing board. The astonishing thing is it looks like an ugly reject from the 1980s even before it’s built, and would quickly deteriorate in the sea spray.
It would be nice to think saner heads will prevail as the current building is a real asset, and any changes could clearly go on behind the front, but this is Skegness. Next door they tore down an amazing Edwardian villa which would be an asset to any town and replaced it with ugly glass and chrome grot. So this will fit right in. Try showing them the RIBA winning pier building in Hastings and see their brows furrow.