Regal Cinema

Castle Circus,
Torquay, TQ1 3JQ

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd.

Architects: William Riddell Glen

Styles: Art Deco, Atmospheric

Previous Names: ABC

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Located on Castle Circus at Castle Road in the seaside town of Torquay, Devon. The Regal Cinema was built for and operated by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain. It was opened on 31st July 1933.

It was designed by their in-house architect William R. Glen. It was built on a steep slope, and the entrance was at the lower end, closest to the town centre. The raked seating area in the stalls took advantage of this slope, and the screen was located at the entrance end of the building, meaning patrons entered from behind the screen. It must certainly have been the only Glen designed ABC cinema which was a ‘reverse’ cinema. Seating was provided in stalls and circle levels. The decorative scheme in the auditorium was in a semi-Atmospheric style, with scenes of local beauty spots painted in panels on the side-walls. The proscenium was 38ft wide. The cinema had a fully equipped 20ft wide stage and there were six dressing rooms. It was equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system. It was equipped with a Compton 3 manual 11 ranks organ which had an illuminated console situated on a lift. The organ was opened by organist Reginald Porter-Brown.

In the mid-1950’s the Regal Cinema was equipped with CinemaScope and the sound system was changed to one by RCA. It was re-named ABC in 1961. The stage was brought into use for the first time in the 1960’s when one night concerts by leading pop stars appeared here. In 1972 the Compton organ was sold and removed from the building. The ABC closed as a cinema on 24th May 1978, and was converted into a bingo club, which operated during the summer holiday seasons until 1986.

It was taken over by an independent operator and re-opened as the Regal Cinema on 14th August 1987, using seating in the circle only. This was a short lived venture, as the cinema closed for good in November 1987.

It was demolished in April 1989. An office block named Regal House was built on the site in 1995, which contains a Job Centre Plus.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

MikeJC on April 20, 2012 at 10:19 am

It also had a very nice 3manual/11rank Compton organ with an illuminated surround

Ian on April 26, 2012 at 11:11 am

Two further images from shortly before demolition, although I thought this was after 1989 … :–



gfdbill on March 28, 2015 at 1:55 pm

I was a regular at the Regal from my early years in the 1940’s. They ran Saturday morning kids shows – children only – you couldn’t take your parents! Sometimes they played the organ and we sang the ABC Minor’s song (see youtube). The shows always started with a short cartoon – Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc. Or perhaps Bugs Bunny or Sylvester & Tweety Pie. Next was an episode of a serial such as Flash Gordon – great stories, pity about the pathetic special effects! Occasionally they showed a newsreel, but often it was a comedy short – The Three Stooges, or Bowery Boys. Finally the main film. Westerns were very popular. Anything with plenty of action and not too much kissing!

gfdbill on March 28, 2015 at 1:59 pm

When I first started going to the Regal the screen was in 4:3 format. Later they converted it to widescreen when Cinemascope came out. I remember being enthralled by The Dam Busters, and also remember seeing West Side Story there.

rasLXR on March 29, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Have uploaded some scanned photos belonging to P. Leach whose father was the Chief Projectionist.

terry on December 19, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Live BBC concert of Reginald Porter Brown at the Compton Organ of the ABC Regal: Torbay’s finest theatre :–

Biffaskin on February 20, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Regal House that stands on the site of this cinema was completed in 1995.

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