ABC Derby

East Street,
Derby, DE1 2

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ABC Regal Cinema Derby

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This was my local cinema when I grew up in Derby, it played all the big releases with the nearby Odeon(former Gaumont) on London Road.

I didn’t appreciate how beautiful its great Art Deco style facade was until I studied design at college, by then it was too late and the developers had moved in to clear the site to extend the shopping centre that surrounded it.

By this time I was working in a nearby bar after college and was able to document in photographs the whole sad demolition process, I also rescued several chunks of plasterwork from the grills in the ceiling.

The Regal Cinema opened on 27th June 1938 with Greta Garbo in “Marie Walewska”(“Conquest”). It was the most stylish cinema in Derby and was fitted with a Compton 3Manual/6Rank organ which had an illuminated console on a lift. The organ was opened by organist Wilfred Southworth. The Compton organ was removed from the cinema in 1965 after years of not being used. It still survives having been restored, and is now located in a car showroom about 20 miles away up in the Derbyshire Peak District, in the village of Dovedale (check the attached link for concert details of the organ and photos of the cinema).

The architect for the Regal Cinema was Associated British Cinemas(ABC) in-house architect William R. Glen who designed many similar cinemas for the ABC chain. The exterior was a curved cream deco ribbed faiance tiled affair that was tucked in between shops fronts, a long lobby led back to the large auditorium that seated 1,248 in the stalls and 592 in the balcony.

As many of the other cinemas closed in Derby in the 1960’s, the ABC survived due to its prime location and was tripled in 1978, an expensive job. The balcony had a new screen built in front of it hiding the wonderful proscenium and ornate organ grills, the stalls were split into a large 380 seater and a small narrow 213 seater, both only retained a little plasterwork on the ceiling. The lobby area and upper circle lounge still retained lots of wonderful plasterwork, sadly painted deep red and purple so you couldn’t see much of it.

When ABC/EMI moved its bingo operation from the burn’t down Trocadero to the former Odeon(former Gaumont), it also opened a single screen cinema in the former Odeon/Gaumont balcony, and for a while that was renamed Trocodera Centre. The ABC East Street closed on July 14 1984 and was swiftly demolished.

I remember watching “Bladerunner” here with only three other people in the screen. But on the closing night it was packed for a final screening of “That’s Entertainment”.

Contributed by woody

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

smoothie
smoothie on March 9, 2008 at 8:14 am

Hmm! It doesn’t seem to want to link. But the reference is there. you’ll just have to do it longhand! Other Derby cinemas there,none on CT as yet……

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 9, 2008 at 8:49 am

Hi there smoothie! Best to go to:– http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/ then go to ‘Search the Images’ then type in ‘Cinemas’ and click place name in drop down box. Currently, all the Derby cinemas are on Cinema Treasures, (apart from the Metro). I was raised in the town, so know them all and have added them to this site.

smoothie
smoothie on March 10, 2008 at 11:59 pm

Thanks for that Ken. i knew someone would come to the rescue!

smoothie
smoothie on March 11, 2008 at 12:07 am

Just reading the main blurb up top……“WR Glen who DEIGNED many other cinemas for the ABC chain”. My, not just Regal,but Royal too!

He also had a “cream deco ribbon FIANCE” Who was he I wonder? Real special family that! LOL

Ian
Ian on March 11, 2008 at 12:42 am

To be fair the “Add a theater” page is not user-friendly. Partly – and rightly – this is to force a conformity on the report. However the “write your own description” box is not up to the task. Too small, it does not scroll so you end up typing blind on longer descriptions like this one, and on reviewing, it ignores all formatting (making it harder to read and check). I usually try and type out longer reports in ‘Word’ and then cut and paste, but this too has limitations. Finally the Character Encoding on various Browsers can play havoc with the text symbols such as “ – / () will not necessarily appear as typed, through no fault of the author!

Just be grateful that someone has taken the time to write a description and that the Cinema Treasures staff have provided the format and editorial control to display it! And this was a definite LOL comment, not an attack!! Also made by a poster whose reports sometimes come out in an unexpected way! :–))

smoothie
smoothie on March 11, 2008 at 3:13 am

My apologies to everyone. Consider myself thoroughly told off-and correctly!

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on April 2, 2008 at 11:12 am

According to Woody’s clippings, Angel and Police Academy were two of the final films shown.

woody
woody on April 20, 2009 at 1:48 am

some more demolition phots scanned from the orignals i took
looking down on where the rear of the lobby and stairs to the circle lounge were
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3456490221/
the rear of the circle
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3456486995/
the auditorium
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3456483359/
from the street with the frontage gone but the plasterwork of the lobby visible
View link
one of the ornate proscenium organ grills hidden for years by the tripling which moved the screen forward to the front of the circle
View link

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on October 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I have loaded 3 pictures from 1959.. Hope you enjoy..

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on January 14, 2013 at 2:56 am

In the 1970’s I did the Winter Relief there while the Manager was on holiday..

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