The Directors of the newly built amusement centre promoted it with these words: ’It will immediately recommend itself to the amusement patrons of Minehead and District. It is the first important building that has been erected in the town for many years and the first modern cinema to be erected in this part of the country.’
The builders Messrs F.G Minter of Putney had constructed many similar building enterprises around the country but this site presented particular problems as it was on the site of a former Tanyard owned by the Evans family of The Wyndcote, in Martlet Road, which had celebrated its centenary in 1894 when the Siderfins ran it. Despite that, it was finished in record time. The construction was fireproofed throughout and the latest equipment installed. The overall cost was £50,000.
It was officially opened on July 2nd 1934 with a showing of the film ‘Evergreen’ starring Jesse Matthews. As she was unable to officiate actor Clifford Mollinson did the honours.
The scheme comprised a theatre seating 1,300, with the addition of a Ballroom and thirteen shops for letting. The exterior was faced with yellowish brown brick, supplied by Taunton Brick and Tile Co., combined with local stone and a glazed green tiled roof and green shutters.
The theatre was approached through a double set of entrance doors facing the Avenue and opened into a spacious foyer with pay-box and stalls floor entrance. Two broad staircases gave access from this to a lounge and balcony also an entrance to the low level circle.
The stairs continued up to give access to the back of the balcony which had plenty of standing space. Toilets were provided to all parts of the house as well as a dressing room and manager and staff accommodation. Also a fully equipped stage with dressing rooms able to provide for a large cast.
The decoration was ultra modern in style with tasteful colouring. The walls of the Auditorium were lined with polished hardwood in tones of brown,gold and black. The colour scheme for the carpets, curtains and chairs were tones of amber, green and pale red to blend in.
The ballroom had a separate entrance to its own foyer, lounge, bar, toilets and orchestra space. Its decoration was also modern but less subtle than in the theatre. Attached to the ballroom was a fully equipped kitchen so that banquets could be served.
The ballroom was opened on Wednesday July 18th with dancing from 10 – 2 to the music of Debroy Somers and his band. The planning and decoration for the building, which cost £12,000, was designed by the well known London theatre architect Andrew Mather who supervised throughout its erection. He had already designed cinemas for the Odeon chain.
The last words should go to the Directors who said:
“It will be seen that no effort or expense has been spared to make the Regal the LAST WORD in an endeavour to give its patrons high-class entertainment in complete comfort – and we feel and hope that everything possible has been done for their benefit.
We are proud to say – Best in the West”
Its design, colour, and height was totally out of place in a small Victorian town so must have taken some getting used to but what it offered was just what the people wanted. It is now a listed building.
Compiled by Sally Bainbridge on behalf of Minehead Conservation Society.
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