THE original structure of one of the country’s oldest cinemas has been uncovered thanks to renovation plans.

The Duke of York’s in Preston Road, Brighton, is undergoing six weeks of work to its historic exterior.

Now the builders have uncovered the original sculpture work on the outside of the building.

Built in 1910, the Duke of York’s lays claim to being the oldest operating cinema in the country but years of redecoration had left the original building covered up by paint.

Members of the team at Fry and Sons, which is carrying out the work, were surprised by what they found.

The company’s owner Glenn Fry, who is working on the site, said: “We’ve been stripping back 30 years worth of paint to get the building back to how it originally looked.

“We do a lot of this work but it’s rare to have a job that needed it this much.

“There was so much paint that you don’t know what’s going to be under there when you chip away.

“You have to be gentle

so as to not destroy the sandstone. It is very time consuming.”

Coincidentally, the works began on September 22, the exact date the cinema opened nearly 110 years ago.

Felicity Beckett was manager at the Duke of York’s for 15 years between 2003 and 2017 and she said she always wondered what was hiding beneath the layers of paint.

Felicity, who is now the video content co-ordinator for Picturehouse Cinemas, the company that owns the Duke of York’s, said: “I knew there was more detail under all the paint but not necessarily that.

“I’m hoping they will also be able to find the original writing on the arches.

“It’s exciting to see

what they might uncover next.

“Picturehouse really cares about heritage and preserving old cinemas and their aesthetic.

“Whatever we can preserve we will.”