An historic Art Deco cinema has been drawing in the crowds since its restoration. Graham Young reports.
More than 50,000 customers have walked through the doors of an historic cinema in Worcestershire in just the first eight months after reopening.
The Regal Cinema is more than just a building with a screen – it’s a Grade II listed Art Deco picture palace which first opened in 1932.
The transformation from being obsolete to wonderful is nothing short of a miracle and it has now been short-listed for a top heritage award.
It’s all thanks to local concert promoter and entrepreneur Patrick Wiper realising that its revival could boost the local community.
That was four years ago. Fast forward through “endless discussions” with potential partners and eventually there was enough funding in place to begin the £2 million project.
Backed by a mixture of Patrick’s own money, private investors and £500,000 worth of public support from bodies like Advantage West Midlands and The National Lottery and the Wipers were good to go.
The architects involved submitted plans for a nominal fee and 30 per cent of the building and restoration work was done by local tradesmen for free, so eager were they to restore the heart of their community.
Patrick’s 26-year-old son, Laurence, is now the general manager of what he calls “a multifunctional building and programme”.
Today, the Regal lives up to its own name – and is a catalyst to revitalise the rows of shops on either side of Port Street near to the River Avon.
Its biggest hit this year has been The Exotic Marigold Hotel, with Laurence’s personal favourite being Marley, the Bob Marley documentary.
The current programme is already eclectic, with French art house film The Bird and Chilean documentary Nostalgia For the Light having screened earlier this month before Anna Karenina (12A) has taken centre stage this week.
And where else in the Midlands has there been a chance recently to see everything from children’s club films to F1 races and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original Total Recall?