Regal Cinema

Market Square,
Cleator Moor, CA25 5AT

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Previous Names: Hippodrome Cinema

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Regal Cinema

Cleator Moor is a small town in Cumbria, to the south-east of Whitehaven.

The Hippodrome Cinema, constructed from a wooden frame clad with sheet iron, with a corrugated iron roof, opened on Boxing Day, 26th December 1910, presenting a mixture of films and variety. Mr P. A. Burns, a local publican, was the manager.

There was raked seating. The first six rows were wooden benches, after which the seating was of a slighter higher class. After those seats came the ‘top tier’, mainly commandeered by young lovers.

From 1922, until his retirement in 1946, the Hippodrome Cinema was managed by Samuel Humphries. He was succeeded by John R. Edgar, who came from Newcastle upon Tyne as a relief operator a few months before his appointment as manager.

In 1947, a new company was formed, The Hippodrome Ltd. Minor improvements were made to the interior of the building, but it was not until May 1951 that the problem of renovation was tackled in earnest.

This major construction work involved many local builders, joiners, electricians, painters and roofing experts. Strip by strip, the old tin roof was removed. Metal mesh was laid to the walls, then concrete applied, and finally a layer of rough cast applied to make them weatherproof. The roof was re-laid with asbestos sheets and a new brick frontage was built around the old operating box.

New lighting was installed throughout. Tip-up seats were installed in place of the wooden forms, and all the seating was altered to give greater leg room. Rather remarkably, all this actually increased the seating capacity, from 500 to 540! (By the late-1950’s this had reduced to 450.)

Again remarkably, during all this work, film shows were never interrupted, until the final 10 days, when new Gaumont-British Kalee projectors were installed.

The new-look cinema was renamed the Regal Cinema. It was by no means a luxurious picture palace, but it was a lot more comfortable and warmer than the old ‘Hip’. The draughts had gone and the rain and hail on the roof and sides, which used to drown out the soundtrack, could no longer be heard. The new projectors were also a lot quieter.

The reconstruction of cost some £7,000. Unfortunately, the cinema was only to last another ten years or so.

The Regal Cinema closed its doors on 30th August 1962, and became The Regal Bingo Club. That was advertised for sale as a going concern in October 1987, due to the retirement of the owner.

It is not known whether the new owner kept the bingo club going, but at some stage it closed and the building was demolished.

(Sourced, with grateful thanks, from the ‘Little Ireland’ Cleator Moor local history blog.)

Contributed by David Simpson
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