Classic Hinckley

2 Rugby Road,
Hinckley, LE10 0QD

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Regent Cinema

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The Regent Theatre, built 1928, Rugby Road/Lancaster Road junction, Hinckley, Leicestershire. ‘Architecturally the building is of considerable merit. It improved one of the principal entrances to the town and opened up facilities to a rapidly extending part of Hinckley’ (Hinckley Times, February 1930).

In 1927 Hinckley and Dursley Theatres Ltd. commissioned Horace G. Bradley of Birmingham to design a 1,000 seat theatre. In January the Hinckley Times commented that ‘the completed block of buildings will eventually comprise one of the most pleasing and imposing architectural features of our town’ and by the end of the year noted that the ‘mammoth building’ was now nearing completion (27 Jan; 7 Dec 1928). Contractors G. E. and W. Wincott of Nuneaton. ‘New Theatre For Hinckley – To Provide Accommodation For 1,200 People – Plans Completed’ (article in the Hinckley Times, 23 December 1927). ‘The proposed theatre will be situated on a commanding site with the main entrance facing the busy side of the town. The materials will be of grey dragged terra cotta and brickwork for the elevations. A large parking space for motor cars is provided. The accommodation will consist of 800 seats on the main floor of the auditorium and over 800 in the balcony, with additional standing room for about 150. In addition to a large stage measuring 60’ x 30' with height to take any scenery, there will be ample accommodation for artists in dressing rooms. The balcony will be constructed of concrete. The operating box, re-winding and generating rooms are of the latest methods and fireproof. The building scheme includes ten first-class shops with lavatory accommodation and offices over the first floor, approached by fireproof staircases. The auditorium and balcony will be provided with numerous windows to give a pure atmosphere when the theatre is closed, and when open to the public the ventilation will be obtained by fresh air ducts and electrical fans' (Hinckley Times, 27 January 1928).

The theatre was formally opened Monday 11 March 1929, and was then described as a ‘house of amusement worthy of the town and district. From the outside one gets an impression of size and roominess, which is not dispelled upon entering, for the new theatre is of goodly proportions and substantially built. There is an attractive main entrance directly on the corner, with the main part of the building extending parallel with Rugby Road. A number of lock-up shops on the ground floor and a suite of offices above comprise that section of the building immediately flanking Rugby Road. They are admirably laid out. On two sides the theatre is flanked by a concrete causeway of ample width – ample, this is, to obviate any inconvenience to passers-by that a queue might cause.

First impressions upon entering the circular hall which leads direct into the auditorium and from which ascends the staircase to the balcony, are distinctly favourable. The effect of the decorations is artistic and pleasing to the eye, for her on the walls one sees seven admirably painted water colours – here a beautifully tinted view of Loch Lomond, there a Thames side landscape, elsewhere a view reminiscent of Killarney, and there again two more aspects of Loch Lomond, the famous Scottish beauty spot. Above is the Rendezvous Lounge, a spot which is sure to become popular with theatregoers, and where waiting will be robbed of its boredom and queuing of its tiresomeness. Here again the effort to combine art with decorative effectiveness has been successfully executed, and the two large water colours on the wall are bright and pleasing to the eye. Three comfortable settees provide material comfort and indirect lighting give tone to the whole. In the Theatre itself seating, lighting and decoration schemes have been attended to with obvious care. A sloping floor in the main body of the Theatre, and a terraced balcony ensures everyone an obstructed view of the stage and screen, the soft glow of the coloured lights which suffuses the building when illuminated is indeed pleasant and gives the interior an air of cosiness which the vastness of the place might otherwise discourage. Of the colour scheme with it’s warm autumn tints and artistic pictures one cannot speak too highly. There is an absence of blatancy which is gratifying, and the blend generally has been well considered and admirably executed. As the panel pictures are all hand painted, one can imagine the work that has been put into this part of the scheme.

As regards the functional part of the work, this will rank with the best in the County, both as regards stage and screen. The stage will permit of the performance of stage plays, variety operatic and orchestral entertainments in first-class style. The accommodation for the artistes has not been neglected, there being distinct dressing rooms for principals and chorus with every convenience. For cinema purposes a picture projection plant of the very latest type has been provided. The musical accompaniments will be played by an augmented orchestra of six instrumentalists – two violins, piano, double bass, cornet and flute – and, it is expected, will be maintained on a standard of excellence in accordance with the standing of the Theatre itself'. Amongst the sub-contractors were Turner & Co, theatre furnishers, of Birmingham, Baxter & Impey, electrical engineers, of Birmingham, Ingram & Kemp, electrical fittings, Birmingham and F. Foster, decorative artist, of Nottingham.

‘The Regent has been designed to meet the requirements of the rapidly growing and progressive district of which the town of Hinckley is the centre, for a really up-to-date Theatre and Picture House. It has been constructed on the carefully thought out plans of one of the most eminent theatre architects in the country, Mr Horace G. Bradley, of Temple Row, Birmingham, and embodies the important features of the latest English and American Cinema and Theatre construction’ (Hinckley Times, 15 March 1929).

It included five dressing rooms for artistes, and in 1930 was the first Hinckley theatre to install sound. It was the company’s prime venue until sold to Odeon Theatres in 1935. In 1955 it was renamed the Gaumont, and a week later CinemaScope arrived. In 1961 the Odeon in the Borough closed, and the Gaumont was sold to Classic Cinemas chain of London. The Classic Cinema was closed in 1968 and the cinema was reopened as Vogue Bingo and Social Club, later Rainbow Bingo and then Flutters Bingo (Hinckley Times, 30 June 1968). Flutters Bingo Club closed on 15th June 2013. The building was leased to a new operator who intended to reopen as a live performance theatre and music hall.

Unfortunately, this did not happen and the auditorium was demolished in May 2014. An Iceland supermarket is planned for the site, and the front of the building will be retained and used as a café.

Contributed by Tim Parry

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Peter Williams
Peter Williams on July 23, 2011 at 8:56 am

I saw my first film here with my father in 1964 which was the first of the biggest pop sensation of all time and their first film.I was 3 years old. I went in the evening once, and that was their next picture. After that many Saturday afternoons were spent there. My mum used to take me. You went in and I seem to remember the cash desk was on the left hand side, and you went up wide carpeted stairs to the auditorium. I think it was a much nicer cinema than its competition of the day. Fond memories of it for obvious reasons.

Peter Lea
Peter Lea on August 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm

This former cinema and bingo club closed as flutters bingo on the 15th June 2013 and the building leased to an un identified person who intended to run the site as an old time music hall and also stage live shows 12th Aug 2013

70mmbobbyj
70mmbobbyj on January 27, 2014 at 4:05 pm

On my local East Midlands news, a group want to save this cinema and reopen it. The council has granted permission for it to be demolished for a “car park”. Expect news soon of a “suspicious” fire and the building having to be knocked down.

70mmbobbyj
70mmbobbyj on July 12, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Just added two new pictures, It’s a shame this has happened, just so Sainsburys & Iceland can have a car park.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on July 12, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Its amazing how many top class Theatres have been knocked down just to provide a car park

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