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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”.
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