The Regent Cinema, East Kirkby. Source: Kirkby Heritage Centre.
The Regent Cinema
The Regent was one of three cinemas in East Kirkby. The other two were the Star, on Kingsway, and the Kings cinema which was located near to where the Aldi supermarket is today on Urban Road.
In the days before television became more widely available, people went to ‘the pictures’ as a popular form of entertainment. Moving pictures combined with sound would have been exciting when The Regent Cinema first opened in 1930, as early films were mainly made without sound.
‘My first memory of The Regent was seeing large pink title letters flashed up quite suddenly… It was 6th October 1930 that the much lauded cinema took in its first customers. This was it then, the ‘talkies’ had arrived.’
Gerald Lee, Kirkby-in-Ashfield: Yesterday Remembered, 2007.
Short films, known as ‘trailers’ were shown before the main main. In 1962 a trailer called ‘The Prince of Darkness’ was screened at The Regent. – A horror film produced by a local amateur dramatic society called the ‘Jayrich Drama Group’ Members of the group were mainly local miners and railway workers.
In 1947, The National Coal Board (NCB) produced Mining Review films, so called ‘newsreels’ that were shown in local cinemas all over the country. These films were an effective way of showing how people worked in Britain’s mines and how mining families and communities lived.
Notts Free Press, newspaper cutting, featuring Kirkby’s Jayrich drama group. Source: Eddie Newby.
In 2014, a short film about the Jayrich Drama Group was made as part of the Annesley Old Church Project supported by the National Lottery Fund. And video from the original 1962 film was also shared on The Annesley Vampire Facebook page.
At the height of their popularity, films at Kirby’s local cinemas were advertised on billboards (large posters) on the side of the cinema, and advertisements appeared in local newspapers.
Advertisements for Kirkby’s cinemas from the 1930s (left) and 1950s (right). Source: Kirkby Heritage Centre.
Regent Cinema Staff 1930. Photograph captioned: Len Blyth, Lizzy Hill, Mr Barrott, Mrs Fulwood, Ray Bullock, Sadie Bradbury, Leah Ball, Audrey Leivers, Mr Whitfield, Sybill Bullock, Ida Sexton. Source: Kirkby Heritage Centre
People who worked at the cinema included the Manager, projectionists, usherettes, commissionaires and kiosk sales staff. The Manager would oversee the staff, promote the cinema and see to the daily running of the cinema. Projectionists were in charge of operating the equipment to run the film shows. Feature films were supplied on multiple reels and had to be changed mid-way through. This process would often be accompanied by noisy heckling from the cinema audience.
Usherettes were mainly women, whose roles included collecting tickets, showing people to their seats, selling ice cream and general preparation of the cinema before the film shows. Some cinemas employed commissioners, whose job was to keep order in the queues and support the cinema staff.
The Regent Cinema projection room in 1987. Source: Kirkby Heritage Centre.
The Regent closed in the early 1960s. Like many provincial cinemas, by the 1970s it had been converted to a bingo hall. The cinema briefly reopened as a multi-screen Cineplex in the late 1980’s before closing again. The venue is now a pub and named ‘The Regent’ after the original cinema.
The Regent as the Silver Line Bingo and Social Club in 1983. Source: Kirkby Heritage Centre.
Interior view of The Silver Line Bingo and Social Club in 1983. Source: Kirkby Heritage Centre.