Standing on the corner of King Street and St Mary's Way in the Leicestershire town of Melton Mowbray is the Regal Cinema. The building is an outstanding example of a smaller regional cinema, all the more remarkable for having been built by a local company and operated as an independent cinema, and not part of a much larger chain like Gaumont, Granada Theatres or Odeon. The cinema opened in 1934 and was built by a local company, Denman & Sons.
The design of the Regal Cinema incorporates a two-storey block facing onto King Street, projecting from the cinema's auditorium that can be seen behind and above the street frontage, most notably along St Mary's Way. Whilst the auditorium is clad in red brick, the King Street frontage is clad in faience tiles, in shades of orange and blue, with the base of the frontage clad in light-grey faience. The intricate design of the faience enlivens the frontage and makes it one of the most colourful cinemas in Britain.
The King Street frontage comprises two two-bay, two storey wings either side of a central section. The wings have projecting pilasters at each corner, which were originally clad in faience tiles but have been subsequently covered in render. The inner pilasters are taller; all are topped with square, faience tile-clad capitals. Each of the bays is bordered by a projecting surround of narrow blue-coloured faience tiles. Inside the border, the ground and first-floors are illuminated by tall, narrow windows. The white-painted metal-framed windows are very attractive for having diamond-shaped fanlights.
Above the second storey is a projecting pediment, with a parapet above. The parapet has a central section clad in orange faience, whilst either side is a panel inset with a green-faience, saw-tooth panel section.
Between the two outer wings is the central section of the frontage, with three pairs of double doors accessed via a flight of five steps. The doors are set back from the street, as are the windows of the first storey above, allowing a balcony to extend over the entrance. The balcony comprises three bays, with the piers between decorated with chevrons. Above, an arch forms a parapet over the balcony. The parapet mirrors the style of that on the outer wings, with its central section and saw-tooth inset panels.
The cinema was built in the early 1930s and continued to operate as a cinema for many decades. With declining audiences, the cinema was converted to a bingo hall. However, the cinema was reconverted to serve as a cinema and continues in that capacity today.
Posted by Richard Coltman on Tuesday, October 1, 2013