Royalty Cinema, Bowness-on-Windermere.

Royalty Cinema

Lake Road,

Bowness-on-Windermere, LA23 3BJ



Date opened:  March 1927.

Original owners:  Windermere Public Hall and Cinemas Ltd.

Opened by:  H.L. Groves, Chairman of Windermere Council.

First film shown:  ” The Wanderer” (silent) starring Wallace Beery, and Tyrone Power.

Seating capacity on two levels:  600+.

Cinema organ:  Wurlitzer, 2 manual, 7 ranks, Theatre Pipe Organ, opened October 6th 2012.

Present use:  Three screen cinema complex operated by the Northern Morris Circuit.



At the planning stage.

The Windermere Public Hall and Cinemas Ltd was formed by a group of local businessmen with the intention to open a multipurpose Public Hall that could be used as a theatre, a dance hall, and have the capability of presenting moving pictures. A site was secured on Lake Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, and building work commenced during 1926, The venture was financed by public subscription.

A recent photograph of the compact balcony & stalls of the Royalty cinema, Bowness-on-Windermere.

The building was of a modest size, with a seating capacity of 600+ on two levels, having a compact balcony. The stalls area was flat with a sprung maple floor. Originally the stalls seats were arranged in sections of three and four, battened together so that they could be moved to the basement when the hall was being used for dancing. The auditorium was well appointed with a barrel vaulted ceiling. A 30′ proscenium with a stage depth of 24′ was in proportion to the size of the hall.  There was ample dressing room facilities, four in an abutment to the right of the building and the under stage area. Backcloths had to be rolled as there was no fly tower. However, cinema seemed to be the main attraction.  The projection room was equipped with Erneman projectors that showed the silent films.

The first film shown at the Public Hall.

The Public Hall was officially opened in March 1927 by the Chairman of Windermere Council, H.L. Groves. The radio entertainer, Billy Barnes made a personal appearance before the first feature film ” The Wanderer” starring Wallace Beery, and Tyrone Power was shown.

A few years later the building was renamed the Royalty. As the 1930s dawned silent cinema gave way to sound and the lease transferred to Windermere and Ambleside Cinemas Ltd, an experienced group who also managed the Windermere cinema, the Supreme, Old Colwyn and previously the Assembly Rooms, Ambleside. The managing director, Leonard H Clegg, had been a Liverpool architect and had designed the Lighthouse Pavilion, Hoylake.

In 1952 the cinema was leased to Ronald Cowpe and to John Bailey in 1974 who ran the building until his death. The Royalty was kept open by the Council until granting the lease to Charles Morris in June 1992.

Three years later, the new operator recognized the potential of the business and decided to add another 100 seat cinema in the disused stage area. In 1996 a further auditorium was formed out of the balcony foyer, this had a seating capacity of 65. All boasting air conditioning.

The original name plaque is still in place.

Although adding the two extra screens, cleverly the main 380 seat auditorium was left unaltered. This has been richly and tastefully refurbished, retaining the the balcony and enhancing many of the original features. All three screens are equipped with the latest screen technology.

Click the above frame to take a trip around the Royalty complex. 3D Virtual Tour made by Apollo 3D

The Royalty Cinema also houses a rare Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ dating from 1927. It is a 2 manual instrument of 7 ranks. Originally installed in a Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio, it came to England in 1934 to be installed in the Rex Cinema in Stratford, East London. It remained there until the early 1970’s when it was removed and put into storage.

With the Wurlitzer organ in the spot light. Complementing the tastefully refurbished auditorium.

It was acquired by the Furness Theatre Organ Project early in 2007. Following a period of fundraising and restoration work, the organ was installed in the Royalty. At a Gala Concert on October 6th 2012 the magnificent Wurlitzer was played again by Chris Powell, David Ivory and David Shepherd.

The building is now managed by the Northern Morris Circuit.