The former owner of an Oswestry cinema says bringing the historic film venue back into use will need “a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of money.”

Earlier this week Oswestry Town Council voted to begin negotiations with the owners of the Regal Cinema with a view to reopening the building, which has been closed for nearly 30 years as an entertainment venue and is currently used as a shop unit.

Oswestry cinema expert Trevor Harris says he’s spoken to a number of operators who would be interested in coming to Oswestry to run the cinema – if the town council can secure the building – and stood up to address councillors on the plans at Tuesday's meeting.

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Mr Harris owned the Regal from 1983 until it closed in 1994 and has spent more than 60 years in the cinema industry, having started work in the 1950s as a trainee projectionist in Droitwich.

But while he offered cautious support for the scheme, he believes good value for money is the key to getting customers back through the doors with the cinema industry still struggling to get back on its feet after the pandemic.

“It’s a good idea, but it’s risky. I personally would like to see it, having owned the Regal but whether or not people will come back I don’t know,” he said.

“People in Oswestry won’t stand for a high priced venue, you have to price it reasonably if you want to compete. It’s easy to get to Wrexham. Oswestry, I’m afraid to say, if you go round at night you won’t see anybody.

Border Counties Advertizer: The former Regal CinemaThe former Regal Cinema

“They don’t want to pitch it too high, because the people in Oswestry haven’t got that sort of money. It’s a working class town, and people only have a certain amount of money to spend.

“When I was running it people supported me very well because they could see what I was doing.”


Mr Harris oversaw the expansion of the building to a three-screen venue during the 1980s and early 1990s but says most of the interior features of the venue have now been ripped out to make way for shop space, potentially leaving the new operators with a significant amount of work to do to bring the building back into use.

He says he will be passing details of interested operators to the town council.

“They did wholesale demolition inside," Mr Harris added. 

"They took all the stage end out, they took the balcony steelwork out which gave them a big open building and put in a concrete floor. To do anything in it to open it up again all of that has got to come out. Then you can plan to put your screens in.

“It’s going to need a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of money. Believe you me, it is not cheap.”

The motion passed at Oswestry Town Council on Tuesday (May 15) will see negotiations commence on the Regal as well as other options drawn up for venues elsewhere in the town, before being brought back to the council for a decision in due course.