Nostalgia: Bingo! The number’s up for cinema

PUBLISHED: 13:29 27 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:03 06 May 2010

The Regal

The Regal

This week we continue the history of the former Regal cinema. IN 1972 the Regal Cinema was sold to the Star Group and in 1974 to the Regent Leisure Group. They began to run regular bingo sessions in addition to showing films. With more people watching t

This week we continue the history of the former Regal cinema.

IN 1972 the Regal Cinema was sold to the Star Group and in 1974 to the Regent Leisure Group.

They began to run regular bingo sessions in addition to showing films.

With more people watching television at home, audiences at the Regal declined and the owners proposed to close the cinema as they said it was not financially viable.

Early in 1976 more than 2,000 people signed a petition against closure.

But fewer than 60 people attended a public meeting when various schemes were put forward.

These schemes did not materialise and the Regal closed after Easter 1976.

The last film was Return of the Pink Panther starring Peter Sellers.

It was then purchased by the Regent Leisure Group which converted it to a bingo hall.

The Regal's long-standing manager, Tom Maguire, oversaw the transition from cinema to bingo hall, eventually retiring in 1983 after 17 years.

However, a new era had started in 1982 when Don Tyler purchased the building.

He had been in the cinema business since 1968. With many years' experience as an executive with Granada Cinemas he had converted many cinemas into bingo halls.

He renamed it Flutters Bingo and Social Club and it was the start of a new group which expanded to five venues.

Don, who with his pleasant personality had worked very hard to make this enterprise a success, sadly died of a heart attack in 1995 when he was only 62. Luckily his sons Andrew and Ian Tyler carried on with the venture.

Flutters continues to provide family entertainment to a large number of local patrons.

There are presently three other Flutters in the group at Coalville, Hinckley and Rushden.

Ian Tyler manages Biggleswade with veteran caller Alan Judson from Shefford who has been in the business for over 40 years with nearly 20 years at Biggleswade.

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