Another from the back log of reports !

Back to the early days, and County Theatres, who had the Regal built, were soon taken over by Union Cinemas and the name was changed to Union Cinema, Kingston in March 1937. In October the same year Union were taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) and just before the war the name reverted back to Regal, it was not renamed ABC Cinema until August 1961.

During the war the Regal suffered a direct hit in 1940 which damaged the roof and the organ chambers, both were repaired.

When cinema attendance declined the Regal was hit hard as the massive capacity was almost impossible to fill. It was not however sub-divided and closed as a cinema on 17th July 1976 with “Blondie” and “Adventures of a Taxi Driver”. It was immediately converted into a Coral Bingo Club.

Very little alteration was made to the Regal to achieve this, part of the foyer was opened out and a stairway from the balcony to the stalls was unobtrusively constructed on each side of the auditorium. It was redecorated from the original scheme of pale green, dull gold and lacquered silver to a cream, maroon and blue. Later still under Gala this was changed to yellow, blue and gold. In the front part of the circle an unusual, but neat, arrangement was made whereby three rows were built out to create a deep single level which was then furnished with semi-circular bays of bench seating. A small table was also inserted between seats for bingo players.

The Coral chain was taken over by Gala in the early 1990’s and the club continued to prosper. On 17th June 2004 the building was grade 2 listed, the listing citing “Included as an early and well preserved example of an Art Deco cinema from the 1930's, and a good, rare example of the work of a major cinema architect, Robert Cromie. Many of Cromie's designs were for Davies or Union cinemas, and consequently do not survive.”

It has been well maintained under the bingo regime, having had a half million pound refurbishment in 1996/7. In 2010 the Gala Club continues to offer players a luxurious setting to play their favourite game, thirty four years after the first “eyes down” at this great venue. Sadly however the downturn in bingo admissions has meant that Gala have put the Regal up for sale, whilst the club is still trading, at an asking price of £2,250,000.

The Pictures

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