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Disappearing Lewes - Cinemas

Why doesn’t Lewes have a proper cinema? It’s a terrible inconvenience to the DFL's*, so used to having the Dalston Rio on their doorstep. Uckfield and Hailsham do too, and what’s more, Lewes used to have two.

Yes two. The first was the marvellously Tudor-looking Cinema de Luxe built in 1918 on School Hill which closed in the 1950’s and was fondly known as the fleapit. This was razed to the ground in another Clifford Dann tour de force to build the uncompromisingly hideous Temple House, now home of the SExpress. But the cinema which survives in many Lewesian’s memories, was the Odeon in Cliffe High Street. Built in 1932 on the Cliffe Foundry site, recently vacated by Culverwells, the Lewes Odeon was one the earlier and uglier examples of the Oscar Deutsch cinematic empire.

My personal memories of the Odeon are of running out of Peter Pan aged three when the ticking crocodile became too much (the screen was BIG). On another occasion, my sister was run over outside Lacey’s Department Store on our way to meet our cool sixties parents who had left us home alone to go to a matinee of MASH the movie. Despite all this I remember the Odeon very fondly and looking just as a cinema should look with red plush seats, loopy curtains and art deco flourishes. In its latter years it sadly became more and more run down, competing with the golden age of television and home improvement.

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Local ragamuffins: put cursor onto image to see what they turned
the Cinema de Luxe into