Nostalgia: Right royal treat at the Regal

PUBLISHED: 12:46 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:01 06 May 2010

The Regal

The Regal

The Regal Cinema opened on Monday, July 27, 1936. Large crowds of sightseers gathered for the arrival of comedy film star Will Hay. The opening ceremony was conducted by Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey, who lived at Old Warden. The proprietors were Arthur Hill

The Regal Cinema opened on Monday, July 27, 1936.

Large crowds of sightseers gathered for the arrival of comedy film star Will Hay.

The opening ceremony was conducted by Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey, who lived at Old Warden.

The proprietors were Arthur Hill and his two sons Ernest and Herbert, who also owned The Empire in Biggleswade, the Victory in Sandy and the riverside Lido in Biggleswade.

The architect was Arthur Singleton and the town centre site chosen was part of the Maythorn factory on rising ground in Station Road.

There were 744 seats.

There was a short-lived café upon the mezzanine floor under the balcony, converted into offices in 1937.

The first film starred Will Hay in Where There's a Will and Biggleswade Silver Prize Band provided the music.

The Regal was an immediate success, but was sold to the Cox Cinema Co Ltd in 1937.

There were only four managers Guy David, Emile Morgan, Brian Walters and Tom Maguire.

Mr Canfield was the first commissionaire, soon followed by Bob Clements, who wore a maroon uniform and white gloves.

One of the two pages was Charlie Cook.

Mr J Clements was the projectionist with two assistants.

In 1938, Mr Cox invited all Biggleswade pensioners to matinee performances free of charge, a move which was very much appreciated.

A series of Sunday concerts, with proceeds going to charity, started in 1939 and continued from time to time during the war years. Live entertainment featured, among others, Jack Payne, The Squadronaires, Troise and his Mandoliers, Ivy Benson's Girl Band and Big Bill Campbell and his Rocky Mountaineers.

Amateur talent contests were very popular, with many enthusiastic performers.

Land for the car park in Victoria Place was purchased in June 1940 and later in September a further piece of land behind The White Hart was bought.

There was a demand for Sunday evening films in 1946 and as the Regal was not licensed for Sunday opening the urban district council initially turned down the request, but after a town vote the following year, the extended licence was granted. A wide screen was fitted in 1956 and Cinemascope came in 1962.

To be continued

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