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Black’s Regal Theatre was built on the site of the Olympia Exhibition Hall and Pleasuredrome (1897-1910) and it was built for the northern independent Black’s circuit. It opened on 28th March 1932 with Jessie Matthews in “Out of the Blue”.
The theatre was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/9Ranks theatre organ which had an Art Deco style console on a lift. This was opened by organist J. Arnold Eagle. The policy of the theatre for many years was pictures and variety and it had a 57 feet wide proscenium, the stage was 40 feet deep and there were 10 dressing rooms. Other facilities included a cafe and roller rink.
In 1955 the Black’s circuit was taken over by the Rank Organisation and the Regal was re-named Odeon from 28th November 1955. It was divided into a three screen cinema in 1975 with 1,200 seats in the former circle and two 150 seat screens in the rear stalls.
On 28th March 1982 a special 50th Anniversary concert was given by Phil Kelsall on the Compton organ. Three months later, on 26th June 1982 the Odeon was closed with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Star Wars” & “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Mary Millington’s True Blue Confessions”. The building was boarded up and abandonded for a long period of time.
However it was to re-open as a Top Rank Bingo Club and remains in use today as a Mecca Bingo Club. The sub-division of the auditorium has been removed. In July 2009, it was announced that the building and the entire block had been the subject of a compulsory purchase order. In 2019 it is threatened by Sunderland’s City Council’s redevelopment plans.
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