Cinematopia: UK picture palaces
Gloucester

ABC Regal

Regal, Cannon

* JD Wetherspoon

The Regal cinema (later the ABC Regal, and then the Cannon) was the last of Gloucester's picture palaces and sits in a prime location in Gloucester's King's Square. Modified for theatrical and concert use and then later tripled by EMI, it ceased to be commercially viable in 1988.

Source
* Living Gloucester (Cannon)

The Regal was not the first Gloucester cinema in the ABC chain; the Ritz, in Barton Street, was also part of the chain although viewed as slightly seedy. The Regal, conversely, was better located and had top-quality live shows: The Beatles played here on the very day their first record hit number 1 (but still weren't top of the bill).

Source
* Personal reminiscence on Softdata.co.uk forum.

ABC often used to keep the original name of the cinema alongside their own brand. For example, Northampton had a cinema called the ABC Savoy, which also became part of the Cannon chain prior to closure.

The Regal is now a Lloyd's No. 1 Bar (Wetherspoons) and although it's not quite back to its pre-tripling layout, there is still a satisfyingly cinema-ish feel about the place.

Comment
During Wetherspoon's recent conversion to Lloyd's No. 1 Bar, it was occasionally possible to peek inside bits of the cinema now no longer open to the public. The state of these areas is appalling, resulting from the long period of lying derelict between Cannon moving out and Wetherspoon moving in. It's useless to speculate on what might have happened to the Cannon had it stayed open longer. Two years after it closed, Cannon became MGM cinemas. MGM itself took over the Gallery circuit, which already had a multiplex in Gloucester (at the Peel Centre). So we can assume that even if this cinema had continued to be viable, it would still have closed down within a few years.

1955 (© Living Gloucester):
ABC Regal Gloucester - 1955 (Living Gloucester)

2004:
ABC Regal Gloucester - 2004

Odeon

Plaza

* Mecca Bingo

The Gloucester Odeon was the surviving half of a Rank-owned double-act in Eastgate Street; during rationalisation in 1961, the nearby Gaumont (formerly the Hippodrome) was closed down and demolished three years later. Starting off life in 1935 as the Plaza, owned by the Poole circuit (which explains the lack of the distinctive Odeon architectural features) the cinema itself was so commercially disastrous by the 1970s that rather than triple it (or make it seven-way, as in nearby Cheltenham), Rank applied to turn it into a bingo hall, which it remains today.

Sources
* Living Gloucester (Plaza)
* Living Gloucester (Gaumont).

The Plaza / Odeon was well-known for its live music. Glen Miller played here. It was the last cinema in Gloucester to have a Wurlitzer organ.

Source
* Personal reminiscence on Softdata.co.uk forum.

Comment
Of course, these days, Rank, once an enormous powerhouse in film production, distribution and exhibition (and even a manufacturer of projection hardware through its subsidiary Kalee) has no connections to the film industry at all, concentrating instead on bingo, casinos and its portfolio of Hard Rock Cafes.

1957 (© Odeon Cavalcade):
Odeon Gloucester - 1957 (Odeon Cavalcade)

1972 (© Odeon Cavalcade):
Odeon Gloucester - 1972 (Odeon Cavalcade)

2006:
Odeon Gloucester - 2006 Odeon Gloucester - 2006 Odeon Gloucester - 2006

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This page last updated 24th November 2006.