It’s with a sad heart that I write this post. The Regal, Northwich was my cinematic home for the best part of 20 years and now my facebook feed is full of photos of it being ripped apart, it’s innards on display for all to see like a bad slasher flick.
I moved to Northwich from Sunderland in the mid 80s. As a child I was completely underwhelmed by the size of it. Moving from one of the biggest town’s in Europe (Sunderland wasn’t made a city until 1992) to a place where you could walk the high street in five minutes as a novelty to the young me but it had its gem. The Regal Cinema, Northwich’s 2 screen 1939 beauty.
I’m not sure of the first time I went to the Regal but I am sure of how it made me feel; having the familiarity of a big screen and a dark space to settle down in gave me a certain amount of comfort as a kid who was in a different part of the country, miles away from friends and family, in a strange town, struggling to fit in with a mackam accent and being the new kid at school.
When I think of the Regal now I think about the things I took for granted; turning up ridiculously early when a new release was on as you knew you’d be queuing round the corner otherwise; sitting on the steps waiting for friends; teenage dates; teenage smoking (the novelty of smoking in the cinema never grew old for me) of course after having scanned the surrounding seats to make sure no one who knew my folks would be in there; queuing up against the wooden rail when you got inside (I still have no idea why that rail was there?!); tickets dispensed out of a slot in the counter of the booth; always picking the box of fruit gums that were in the shape of mini fruits; being fascinated by the poster montage wall.
The films I went to see that stand out for the experience and not just the content; taking my little sister to see The Little Mermaid (1989); my step-ma taking me to see Back to the Future parts 2 (1989) and 3 (1990); being scared out of my wits as a 10 year old when the spider jumped on the lens in Arachnophobia (1990); one Friday night the back five rows of the cinema being filled with folk from my year at high school watching Dangerous Minds (1995); the place being packed out the opening weekend of Titanic being released (1997); watching the Matrix on my 19th birthday (1999).
And last and no means least: the re-releases of the Star Wars films in 1997 were of special remembrance to me, it was the first time I saw them on the big screen having previously relied with tapes worn thin that I’d recorded off the telly when I was a kid. Turning up and seeing Karl Woods (my generation’s Regal Manager) in full Jedi costume, with an R2D2 model in the foyer was brilliant and something I’ll always remember!
I moved to Manchester in early 2003 and subsequently never returned to the Regal, I wasn’t aware of its closure until after it has happened in 2007 and was saddened when I did. On the few occasions I’ve been back through the town centre since its closure I’ve driven past to have a look and have been comforted to see it still standing. I was back there yesterday and saw the rubble, twisted metal and the vast expanse of ground once filled with corrugated cream painted iron.
Goodbye old friend, you’ll be missed.
With thanks to: Remembering the Regal Cinema Northwich If you have any memories you’d like to share or if you want to know more please like the facebook page.
Support your local cinema. The reason for the closure of the Regal was due to needed upgrades to compete with the out of town multiplexes and not enough money coming in.
I visited my husband’s old local cinema The Odeon in Weston Super Mare over summer and he felt much the same about that beauty as I do about The Regal. We were sad to hear there are plans to build a new multiplex in Weston on the sea front meaning without a doubt The Odeon will close in time.
Both of these cinemas have left us with fond memories of times past as well as many like us, but unfortunately this is happening all over the country and has been for many years (google: Odeon Manchester and Chester for example).
Don’t leave it too late, it’s all well and good moaning after it’s happened but if you can do something to support or fundraise for a local independent cinema in need do it before it’s too late!