Regal Super Cinema, Altrincham.

Regal Super Cinema

80 Manchester Road,

Altrincham, WA14 4RW



Date opened: 13th May 1931.

Original owners: Read Ward and Snape.

Architects: Francis Drury and Joseph Gomersall.

Contractors: P Hamer Limited. 15 Park Street Swinton.

Cost: £27.000.

Opened By:  The Earl of Stamford.

Original Seating Capacity: 1786.

Compton 3Manual/11Rank organ installed. Opened by Joseph Seal.

Date Closed: 6th January 1956.




This “Super Cinema in the Suburbs” was certainly worthy of the publicity spiel that was churned out at the time of its inception by owners, the Snape and Ward circuit.  The building was steel framed. The roof being supported by a 90′ principal girder. The huge 50 ton main girder supporting the circle was 90′ in width and 14′ in depth.  200 tons of steelwork was used in the construction of this “Cathedral of Cinemas”.  At a cost of £27000 this imposing and majestic cinema was built to the plans drawn up by architects, Francis Drury and Joseph Gomersall and destined to be the flagship cinema of the circuit.

The impressive main entrance foyer.

The facade was described as having a commanding and delightful terracotta frontage. The large rectangular entrance hall had a bold frieze that edged the layered ceilings that were arranged in bays, each having a large oblong light fitting. Marble staircases led patrons to the circle foyer and the café/restaurant. These areas had similar ceilings to that of the main entrance.

The circle lounge.

The café/restaurant

The design of the cinema was Art Deco style, believed to have been inspired by the 1925 Paris Exhibition.  The auditorium was decorated in the same style together with ornamental grilles, niches, cornices and decorative light fittings, with tones of gold and silver throughout. 


The ornate design of the main ceiling featured a dome that appeared to be veneered with beaten silver. This was a clever illusion as the surface was coated in plastic paint that had been coated in a metallic silver finish. A large circular house-light fitting was mounted central in the dome with concealed lighting around its circumference.

Again the use of a boldly designed plasterwork frieze to border the main ceiling was featured to complement the rest of the elaborate plaster design in the auditorium. More than 5000 electric lamps were required in the coves and dome to provide a subtle and uniform illumination to the cinema. The seating capacity was 1786 on stalls and circle levels.

The famous Regal Altrincham organ being built to a unique specification at the John Compton factory.

A mighty John Compton 3Manual/11Rank organ was installed centre stage, and was of special design with a unique 150 stop tab layout which was designed for the Regal and her soon to be opened sister cinema the Plaza in Stockport by Norman Cocker the resident organist from Manchester Cathedral and Arthur Ward one of the original Directors of the Altrincham Regal. It had 11 ranks of pipes situated in chambers concealed behind panels of elaborate grillwork on the splay wall next to the richly bordered proscenium. 

The Compton organ centre stage of the richly bordered proscenium with the lavish house tabs (curtains).

The Gala Opening night was on 13th May 1931 The opening ceremony was performed by the Earl of Stamford with organist Joseph Seal playing the Compton organ before the capacity audience. The instrument was installed on a lift within the area of the orchestra pit. During the first weeks after opening there was also a Regal Symphony Orchestra.

A youthful Joseph Seal. The Regal’s resident organist for a year after it opened.

Joseph Seal was the resident organist at the Regal for a period of a year before moving to the Lonsdale Cinema, Carlisle.

The auditorium of the Regal Altrincham, photographed from the stage.

This superb “Super Cinema” was sited in the affluent district of Altrincham. However, it depended on customers travelling from other areas. It is documented that the owners, Read Ward and Snape, would survey planning applications lodged for other cinemas and in the case of the Pyramid cinema in nearby Sale for example, they joined with others to launch objections in an attempt to prevent the cinema from opening, stating that it was not required and would impact on their trade.

The Regal was taken over by the Mancunian Cinema Circuit in April of 1935 followed by another transfer of ownership to Union Cinemas in February 1937. In October of the same year Associated British Cinemas (ABC) took over management of Union Cinemas and so took control of the Regal Altrincham . 

Being within the dynamic management of ABC and enjoying films that normally independent operators had to wait a considerable time to show, the Regal business was good throughout the cinema heyday of the 1940s and through to the challenging 1950s.

Disaster struck the night of 6th of January 1956, when a massive fire took hold through the night when the cinema was closed.  The following day revealed total devastation when the remains of the building were pronounced unsafe with no alternative but to quickly demolish it. Rumours circulated at the time that this was an arson attack, but nothing could be proved.


Regal House was built on the site. Site now occupied by Roberts House