18 Church Street,
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Opened in around 1832 as the Bell Assembly Rooms, part of the Bell Hotel. It went through many owners and name changes in it early years; Oddfellows Hall, New Theatre, Corn Exchange, Bell Theatre and Theatre Royal.
It became the Bell Rink in the late-1890’s when the roller skating craze hit the UK. In 1907 to 1909 it screened films between skating sessions. It became a full time cinema in 1910 and in 1916 became the Palace Cinema with 400 seats.
Albany Ward took over the management and it became part of the Albany Ward Circuit he was building up. It was taken over by Provincial Cinematograph Theatres(PCT) in September 1927, and the auditorium was demolished, to be rebuilt as a 600 seat cinema.
It opened as the New Picture House on 5th March 1928 with Syd Chaplin in “The Better ‘Ole”. It was taken over by Gaumont British Theatres in February 1929. It led an uneventful life and in 1955 CinemaScope was installed, it now operated with 522 seats. Taken over by an independent operator from 5th January 1958, it was re-named Regal Cinema from 4th April 1971. By the 1980’s it was operating with 200 seats and was closed by the mid-1980’s.
It was taken over by a group named ‘Save Britain’s Heritage’ and re-opened as the Magic Lantern Theatre. This closed in around 1994. It was re-opened on 28th July 1995 as the 450 seat Savoy Theatre, at first screening films, but now live shows are also programmed.
The Savoy Theatre is a Grade II Listed building, listed in 1990.
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