Surrounded by opulence
I remember sitting in a near-empty Regent auditorium one afternoon in the dog days of the summer school holidays, surrounded by opulence, the faint smell of chewing gum filtering up from under the seats, and watching Lawrence of Arabia for the first time. Thank goodness I got to see David Lean’s masterpiece in 70mm in such fabulous surroundings. The experience has remained ever since. And how can I forget watching the ‘Battle of Britain’ as part of a mob of howling, cheering schoolboys.
The demolition days
More poignantly, I have a memory of breaking into the half demolished cinema one evening with a mate from school. The auditorium ceiling was down, as was the roof of the ballroom, but suspended across the void, was this incredible intricate mesh of the sprung ballroom floor. It was like looking up at the inside of a vast mattress. The acrid smell of burnt timber and plaster dust pervaded then, the aroma of chewing gum was a thing of the past. The screen was long gone, and the stage behind revealed, all blackened brick, along with its fly tower; was it ever used?
Front of house area
In the front of house area, revealed by the stripping off of more modern additions, were miraculously surviving glass fronted poster displays for long forgotten films Mary Pickford in ‘Pollyanna’ and HB Warner in ‘The White Dove’ were two that I can remember. I bet they did not survive, and I wonder what would they be worth now? The Regent – a pearl in the pig trough cast. And if it had survived, people would flock to it in hordes now.