ABC Regal Cinema, Torquay.


ABC Regal Cinema

Castle Circus,

Torquay, TQ1 3JQ


Date opened:   31st July 1933.

Original owner:  Associated British Cinemas.

Architect:  William R. Glen.

First General Manager:  Arthur Dagnall.

First film shown:  “Facing the Music” starring Stanley Lupino and Jose Collins.

Seating Capacity: 1600.

Compton organ 3 manual 11 ranks . Opened by organist Reginald Porter-Brown.

Date closed:  November 1987.

Demolished:  April 1989.



The Regal cinema Torquay, seating 1,600 was opened on 31st July 1933. by the deputy mayor. The architect was William R. Glen. He was responsible for the look of many ABC houses. The proscenium was atmospheric, coloured in shades of blue, Orange and brown There were organ grills on either side and were framed in Orange with the bars picked out in gold. Upholstery was dark blue and orange and carpets were in black, Orange and brown. The cinema also housed a cafe, which was in orange, blue and shades of brown, but they were bolder than the auditorium.

The first person to manage the cinema was a Mr Arthur Dagnall. He had previously worked at the Burlington cinema in Torquay.

Pilasters of brown divided the walls up into panels in some of which there were grills picked out in gold. The ceiling sloped inward to a central panel designed in blue, gold and mauve. Two large electric tier lamps in yellow were suspended from the panel. The entrance hall was in blue and gold. The main staircase was in green and red. Decorative work was by Clarke and Fenn Ltd who used fibrous plaster throughout.

Reginald Porter Brown seated at the console of the Regal Torquay’s Compton cinema organ.

A three manual eleven rank Compton organ was installed. It was played by Reginald Porter Brown, who became the resident organist. The organ was taken out in 1972. Porter Brown had been an assistant organist at two churches from eleven years old. Before moving to Torquay he had played at the Piccadilly in Manchester. He had also tinkled the keys at the Theatre Royal Preston and Theatre Royal Manchester.

Up in the projection room, Ross projectors with Western Electric sound were employed, the usual ABC set up. The Sound system was changed to RCA in the 1950s. Opening film was ‘Facing the Music’. The second feature was ‘Silvertip’. A silly symphony cartoon and ‘Pathe Super Sound Gazette’ were also part of the programme.

Torquay’s first CinemaScope movie. Screened at the ABC Regal.

The Regal screened the first cinemascope film in Torquay, which was ‘The Command’ in 1954.

The proscenium was thirty-eight feet wide and there were six dressing rooms. The cinema dropped the name Regal in 1961 and it became just ABC, as did most of their cinemas. Again, like a number of the circuits cinemas, stage shows were introduced, staging the packaged pop shows of the sixties for one night only.

The cinema closed on the 24th May 1978 and was converted to bingo, which operated during the summer months. This continued until 1986.

It went back to its original name of Regal from the 14th August 1987 when it was taken over by an independent operator, using the circle area only. This was a short lived affair and the building was left empty until the demolition hammer came calling in April 1989. An office block named Regal House was built on the site.

David A Elliscopyright