The Regent’s Twin

The Regent Theatre in Hanley is the centre piece of the Cultural Quarter, a major redevelopment of part of Hanley, opening in 1999. The theatre was a renovation and rebuilding of the derelict Odeon Film Centre, originally opened on 11th February 1929.

The Regent was part of the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres ’empire’, with a chain of cinemas all over the country. Towards the end of the silent era, PCT were expanding and constructing new ‘super-cinemas’, vast pleasure palaces with art-deco features, restaurants, and vast tiered auditoria. Under the names ‘The Regent’ and ‘New Victoria’, Bournemouth, Brighton and Westminster were graced with these amazing edifices.

Surprisingly, our Hanley Regent is not alone, it has a twin.

The chief architect of PCT was William E. Trent, a Scottish architect renowned for his cinema work. Along with the Regent, opened in 1929, Trent designed the New Victoria, Preston, the interior of which, as we can see below, shows a striking resemblance to our Regent. Note the proscenium arch, mouldings and dome.

               Hanley Regent (Left)          /          Preston New Victoria (Right)
 
 

The Preston New Victoria was very similar in size, 2120 vs 2184 for the Regent, both had full stage facilities and a Wurlitzer organ, and a large cafe for patrons. Both became the Gaumont, and then Odeon, and both were split into multiplexes, albeit by different methods. The New Victoria’s auditorium was gutted and modernised, building a new cinema in the balcony and extending down over the stalls, along with a second screen in the cafe, whereas the Hanley cinema had two extra screens opened beneath the balcony. Again, both closed as new out-of-town multiplexes were developed, Preston in 1992 and Hanley in 1989.

Unfortunately, unlike our Regent, the Preston Odeon/Gaumont/New Victoria has not been reborn, and still lies vacant, empty, and neglected.

William A. Neale
1st August 2012

All image copyright is retained by the original copyright holders.

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