Robins Cinema

15 North Road,
Durham, DH1 4SH

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Taken April 2011

The Regal Cinema opened on North Road, Durham in March 1934. It later became the Essoldo, then changed to Classic Cinema which was bought by Cannon Cinemas and operated using the Cannon name until it’s closure in 1990.

Robins Cinemas reopened the cinema in 1991 and it continued to operate until 2003 when the cinema was forced to close to make way for a new bar.

The cinema originally had one screen and 1,090 seats. During the 1970’s under Cannon ownership it was converted to a twin screen cinema, then when Robins took over the upstairs screen was divided into two screens and the larger downstairs screen had a small 66 seat screen cut out of it, making it a four screen multiplex. The screen one seated 316, the upstairs screens each seated 96 and the smallest screen seated 66. Robins did have plans to create a screen five using the disused third floor of the building but as it would only seat around 50 people it was not financially viable.

Many of the cinema’s Art Deco style features remained intact, many of them hidden away in parts of the cinema which had been disused from wayback. In a bid to “modernise” the cinema in the 1970’s, many of the decorative features were painted out to make them blend in rather than stand out, on close inspection most of the detail was still visible.

Following a tough couple of years for Robins Cinemas Ltd., the chain went into receivership in 1997, closing all but three of it’s cinemas. Robins Bath, Camberley and Durham were bought back by the company’s owners as they proved the most profitable.

The company also owns the Prince Charles Cinema in London’s West End. Robins expansion thrived on the demise of Cannon Cinemas buying up ex-Cannon buildings across the country. All Robins buildings were ex-Cannon Cinemas. In 1998, plans were announced for a new multiplex in Durham, so Robins took the decision not to take out a long term lease. Nothing came of the multiplex plans but the building’s owner sought a new occupant, a Walkabout Australian Bar.

Following a court battle and several years of uncertainty, the cinema was finally forced to close in January 2003 to make way for the new bar, losing all it’s historic features and decor. In early-2010, it was fitted out to become a live music venue, with a seating capacity for 800. It then became a Chinese restaurant, which closed in 2014.

Contributed by Robins Cinemas

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 29, 2005 at 4:21 am

The Regal Cinema was built on land next to the Miners Hall and opened on 27th March 1934 with Slim Summerville and Zasu Pitts starring in “Her First Mate”. The architect was S. Stevenson, original seating capacity was for 1,090 and the building included a ballroom and billiard hall. It was equipped with a Christie organ which was opened by Herbert Maxwell.

The Robins Cinema closed on 5th January 2003 screening “The Lord of the Rings-The Two Towers”, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, “Die Another Day” and Sweet Home Alabama".

Ian on April 30, 2006 at 10:28 pm

Photo of the cinema under Classic here :–

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Grainger on October 15, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Here is a shot I took on September 28th 2008 I am posting this now because I am moving all of my images over to Flickr and closing my photobucket account.

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William Mewes
William Mewes on April 21, 2011 at 7:47 am

Here are two photos from April 2011.
The view hasn’t changed much since September 2008.
The main difference being that the Pub/Night Club has changed name.

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William Mewes
William Mewes on July 17, 2011 at 10:03 am

PS wgmewes and scruffywilber are the same person. I closed my old eMail account and couldn’t remember my password for this site so I set up a new ID.

William Mewes
William Mewes on March 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

Here is a Post Card from 1909 with a view of The North Road. You can see the tower of the Miners Hall.

1909 Post Card

Buffer on November 15, 2014 at 12:52 am

In Nov 2014 it was empty again, with a short lived Chinatown Buffet the last user.

terry on February 13, 2016 at 7:53 am

Photo of the Christie Organ uploaded.

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