Regent Cinema

166 London Road,
St. Albans, AL1 1PQ

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The Alpha Cinema was the first cinema to open in the County of Hertfordshire, to the north of London. Sited a short distance away from St. Albans city centre, it was located in the upper part of a building which contained a restaurant, hairdressing salon and public baths on the ground floor. The Alpha Cinema was opened on 27th July 1908. At the rear of the auditorium were eight boxes. There were upholstered tip-up seats in the rear section of the auditorium while the front seats close to the screen were long wooden benches.

Alterations were made in 1910 to the plans of architect Percival Blow which met the criterea of the newly imposed Cinematograph Act. It was re-named Poly Cinema on 20th April 1916. In 1923 Percival Blow remodelled the cinema again, this time converting the former ground floor area into stalls seating, while the original upstairs cinema became the circle seating area. Seating was now provided for 573 in the stalls, 314 in the circle and 16 in the boxes.

It was re-named Regent Cinema from 1926 and had a full orchestra to accompany the silent films and a grand organ had been installed. The basement of the building had been converted into a Palais de Dance. Disaster struck in the early hours of 19th December 1927 when the building was destoyed by fire, said to have been caused by a dicarded smouldering cigarette.

The site was cleared and in 1931 the Capitol Cinema was built and opened on the site. This later became the Odeon, and is now the refurbished Odyssey Cinema.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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