A History of Regal Cinema

Reporter:

Tom Berry

We follow on from last week, taking a look through some of the old Advertizer broadsheets that were brought into our office.

And with cinemas being in the news again in Oswestry at the moment, stories and adverts from 1933 seemed rather poignant.

One story from June 28, 1933, recounts the recent opening of the Regal Super Cinema on the corner of Leg Street and English Walls.

One of the Advertizer reporters wrote: “The recent opening of the Regal Super Cinema marks another milestone in the progress of a building for public comfort and entertainment.

“No expense has been spared to make the Regal a suitable house of entertainment for Oswestry.

“It possesses several unique features and is an outstanding example of the latest developments in the building of cinema theatres.”

The article boasts the cinema’s acoustic properties are “near perfection”, and has “a spacious and handsomely-furnished foyer”, along an operating chamber and rewinding room that were “completely fireproof, with fireproof self-closing doors”.

Bigger than current or planned Oswestry cinemas, the Regal Super Cinema really earned the “super” in its title, seating more than 1,000 people on its ground floor and in the balcony to watch the latest flicks.

Popular films in the cinema that year included Love’s Own Sweet Song, Gabriel over the White House, The Keyhole, Facing the Music, and The Lost Chord.

Another film, Hell Below, was, according to a What’s On piece in the Advertizer, full of “thundering thrills of naval battles, adventure unheard of, under the surface of the sea, intimate panorama of the sailors of the submarine fleet, form a background for romance in this film in which Robert Montgomery, Walter Huston, Madge Evans, Jimmy ‘Schnozzle’ Durante and a large supporting cast appear.”

In the 1930s Oswestry had three cinemas; The Regal, The King’s – later named The Granada in New Street – and The Playhouse, later known as The Plaza, which was in Oswald Road.

But as the years rolled on and the town’s number of cinemas dwindled, so did The Regal Cinema’s size.

After changing its name to The Granada Theatre in the 1950s, it was closed and
reopened as The Regal Cinema in 1976.

But by this point, it had reduced its seats to 839.

By 1985 there were two screens, each seating 261, and a third screen was added, seating 66 people, in 1987.

However, it was then downscaled to a single screen with 259 seats before finally closing on June 16, 1994.

The building then remained unused until March 2003, when it was refurbished, and in the spring of 2004 it opened as the clothing store Seconds Ahead.

Now the old cinema building is occupied by The Original Factory Shop.

Former owner of the Regal, Trevor Harris, is now acting as a consultant in the plan to bring back this piece of Oswestry history.

A firm wants to open a new cinema in the former Salvation Army base in King Street.

The town, of course, continues to have its own independent cinema, Kinokulture, in Arthur Street.

Last week we focused on some of the adverts the Advertizer carried – especially regarding alcoholic drinks, with breweries claiming all kinds of healthy effects.

In the Advertizer of March 9, 1927 – when the paper incorporated the Montgomery Mercury – an advert extolled the virtues of wearing a corset.

“A good figure,” read the advert for Morris & Jones of Oswestry, “always compels attention and admiration and will show to great advantage the delicate and dainty points of a lady’s attire. The secret of this desired effect is to obtain a good fitting and comfortable corset.”

A featherweight corset would set a lady back 21 shillings - or £1.10 in today’s money.

Adverts may have changed over time, but other things haven’t. An editor’s column in the same edition about the Salop county budget complained of the government shifting its responsibility to the shires, and of the “constant steam” of legislation poured on to the county council for administration.

County expenditure was labelled “horrible extravagance”.

Familiar cries as Shropshire Council today makes cuts because it says funds from central government have been reduced too much...

See full story in the Advertizer

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