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Built by the County Cinemas chain and completed six weeks ahead of schedule, the Regal Cinema opened on 26th January 1934 with film star Merle Oberon appearing ‘in person’ and also in the opening film “The Private Life of Henry VIII” starring Charles Laughton. The vast Regal Cinema with 2,553 seats in stalls and single balcony cost £95,000. A 28ft deep stage was provided behind the 50 foot wide proscenium and was often used for pop concerts and opera! Such stars as Ronnie Hilton, Cliff Richard and The Beatles all appeared here.
A Conacher 4Manual 22Ranks organ with illuminated console, designed by Reginald Foort, was installed with the organ pipes housed in the space above the proscenium. There was also a café for the convenience of its patrons
Three years after opening it was acquired by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) on 8th November 1937, and became their major cinema in the area – they owned 4 others in the city at various times.
In 1959 a new projection suite was constructed at the rear of the circle and on reopening the cinema became the ABC from 21st February 1960.
The richly decorated auditorium was however ruined in November 1976 when it was rebuilt as five smaller cinemas seating 569, 346, 261, 166 and 96.
In May 1986 it was taken over by the Cannon Group and in 1989, amid talks of closure the ABC was renamed Cannon. After some company confusion as to which Cannon property (the group also owned the Cecil Cinema – now known as Cannon Classic) was to close with both being offered for sale at some point, the 5-screen Cannon (ex Regal Cinema) closed 29th June 1989.
Talks of conversion to a rock venue or conference centre came to nought and this fine old cinema was never used again. It was in a very poor condition – part of the roof had collapsed and the brickwork became sodden and porous.
The next and final attraction was to be a wrecking crew, which completed its work in January 2004.
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