Harbour Lights Cinema was built in Ocean Village in 1994/1995 with funding from the city council, the British Film Institute and Southern Arts. It was designed by architects Burrel, Foley, Fisher with a distinct nautical feel to reflect its situation in the heart of the former docks. The exterior is a striking glass design, and inside there are two elevated walkways that lead cinemagoers into one of the two screens. From its inception there has been a strong emphasis on showing films ignored by the major film circuits.
The area on which the cinema was built has undergone much change since the Second World War. The original Outer Dock, dating from the 1840s, was rebuilt as the Princess Alexandra ferry terminal in the 1960s. Harbour Lights was built on the site of the ferry terminal reception hall, after its demolition in the 1980s.
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