Regent Cinema

Mill Road, Ely,
Cardiff, CF5

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Regent Cinema

Opened in October 1928 by the Splott Cinema Company to serve the expanding Ely district of Cardiff, employing Willmott & Smith as architects.

This large brick building with a small entrance at the top of a flight of steps had few decorative features and it appears that the small balcony was not in the original plan. When opened it was still in the silent era but sound was fitted by the end of 1929 and some decoration and modifications were carried out in the summer of 1937.

In common with all the company’s cinemas, CinemaScope was installed in 1955 and neon lighting shortly afterwards.

Bingo arrived in 1961 for part of the week, but full-time films had returned within a few months reportedly after problems with the local authority. For a time good audiences were attracted as a number of popular films were available when city centre screens were occupied for weeks/months with road show presentations of “The Sound of Music” and “My Fair Lady”.

Bingo returned, full-time, in 1968 but the Westar projectors were retained for occasional use at holiday matinees e.g. a showing of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” on 1st January 1972.

After bingo came to an end by 1996, the building suffered fire damage and was demolished.

Contributed by Geoff

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

geoffjc on May 3, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Much of the 1937 upgrade by architect W.S. Wort was at the proscenium end of the building, in the style used in other Splott Cinemas.

geoffjc on August 17, 2007 at 3:57 am

The latest Western Electric sound installed from 17 March 1930.

edithapearce on April 17, 2009 at 5:25 pm

I did relief work at this hall several times in the early 1960s. The box was not well ventilated which made it very hot in the summer. The sound system, with a silver and black, top fastened, external label reading “Western Electric” was contained in a very big and ancient black casing.Therefore, from Element54’s posting, I’m now assuming that this must have been the original unit installed in 1930.I once saw this sound unit case opened during an engineer’s visit. The inside was crammed with very large glass valves which were obviously of some antiquity.I did not fully appreciate the age of the amplifier at that time as most of the other halls I worked in had similar set ups.

edithapearce on April 17, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Nearly all of the Withers circuit halls,by 1960, had neon external lighting that gave out the name of the hall. Most of the neon lighting sets were purple, red or yellow.The Ninian was the only cinema that I can recall with green neons.The neons were installed by a company called “Claude Gen” who continued, under contract, to maintain them well into the 1960s.

edithapearce on April 17, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Each set of neons had an on / off switch usually located within the downstairs main switch room of the hall .The Ninian, did not have a big switch room and instead had it’s neon switch located on the back outside wall of the box. Outside of the halls, high up on the fascia and immediately beneath the neons. was always a white plate bearing very visible red writing. Next to the plate was a waterproof red switch box. The plate displayed the words “Danger High Voltage” written in large letters.Beneath this was added “In Case Of Emergency Switch Off Here.” Below was the name Claude Gen and a telephone number to be used in an emergency.

edithapearce on April 17, 2009 at 6:08 pm

I visited a lot of halls in the early 1960’s and can never recall the neons causing any major problems. Occasionally one letter of a set would fail but the defect was always repaired within a week of being reported to Claude Gen.In those times some managers made a practice of instructing that the neons be switched off during thunder storms as a safety measure. However, I cannot recollect any sets of neons being hit by lighting although some did suffer occasional gale damage.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris on October 8, 2009 at 1:19 pm

In the Valleys I recall that the JW circuit cinemas used yellow and red neon to illuminat the cinema name.

In Blackood the cinema also boasted two strips either side of the facade with blue, yellow and red neon running from the top down to the canopy two strips of three colour either side which could clearly be seen in the evenings from nearby Oakdale, Penmain and Woodfieldside.

palfery on January 13, 2012 at 3:25 am

In the 50’s, in common with the trend, when the Bill Haley film rock around the clock came round there was dancing in the aisles at The Regent.

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