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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Welcome back Regent Cinema

A remarkable turn of fortune will see the former Regent Cinema on Church Street open its doors again for screenings of films. The landmark white tiled structure a few hundred yards further east from the former Hippodrome site was built in 1921 and closed as a cinema in 1969.

Looking very much the same as its original condition (externally) just missing a canopy and illuminated 'REGENT' exterior sign - this building was very much part of the Marton tram service up to 1962. The trams needed to stop at the Regent Road traffic lights before proceeding along Church Street. On on notable occasion heavy fog meant the driver of Vambac car 10 mistook the traffic light signal (or perhaps it was the driver of the Lytham St Annes bus crossing Church Street on his way to Talbot Road Bus Station) - but in any event the tram ploughed straight into the centre of the bus distorting chassis and bodywork. Number 10 never ran again having also suffered from bent framework - ultimately becoming the first car of this class to be scrapped.

Having endured bingo and snooker the building was put up for sale and purchased by a Fylde businessman who has brought it back to life, initially for antique sales. A plan to again use the large interior auditorium for a big screen film will see the Regent brought back to life in July. Without the need for heritage lottery or other social funding programmes the Regent's rejuvenation is a prime example of private sector deeds as opposed to endless consulting and a gravy train for out of town heritage 'experts'. I well recall the Regent from my days attending Blackpool Grammar School - then a stones throw away at Raikes Parade. I remember going to at least one film there but it wasn't my favourite locale - the Dominion on Red Bank Road was much nearer and had a tram depot almost next door to provide added entertainment.

Above :

A busy morning scene on Church Street with a boat car travelling to Talbot Square from Marton Depot prior to joining the Promenade service as an extra. Two of Blackpool's then distinctive Burlingham bodied buses on the 3A service with the profile of the Regent Cinema canopy and illuminated signage on the junction with Regent Road - scene of the collision. The Lytham St Annes PD2 had just emerged from behind the cinema to cross over Church Street and neither driver had much of a chance in very thick fog. I should know as I was walking towards the junction on my way to school that morning (alas without camera). Image : Copyright : John Woodman

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