Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Gaumont Theater

The Regent Theatre was built for the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres circuit (PCT) and was the first major cinema designed by architect William Edward Trent. It was located on Barker's Pool, opposite City Hall.

It opened on 26th December 1927 and seating was provided for 1,450 in the stalls and 850 in the balcony. The Neo-Classical/Italian Renaissance style auditorium was very similar to a typical Thomas Lamb design in theatres in the USA. There was a double dome in the ceiling and the projection box was built into the dome. The cinema had full stage facilities, a Wurlitzer 2Manual/8Rank theatre organ was installed and a 150 seat cafe was an added amenity.

PCT were taken over by Gaumont British Theatres in February 1929 but it retained the name Regent until 27th July 1946 when it was re-named Gaumont Theatre. The stage was still being used in the 1960's for one night concerts by artists such as; Cliff Richard, Eddie Cochran, Bobby Darin, Victor Borg, Nina & Frederick, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and the Count Basie Orchestra.

In October 1968 it was closed for twinning. All vestiges of the original decoration was removed and the two curtain-walled auditoriums opened on 23rd July 1969 with seating for 737 in the former balcony and 1,150 in the former stalls. On 25th November 1979 a third screen was opened in the former cafe area which seated 144.

The Gaumont closed on 7th November 1985 with "Perfect", Madonna in "Desperately Seeking Susan" and "A View to a Kill".

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