Picture house is thriving in modern era

A TRADITIONAL 1930s picture house which had been facing closure after massive losses is now secure as record numbers of visitors return after a major refurbishment.

John Howard

A TRADITIONAL 1930s picture house which had been facing closure after massive losses is now secure as record numbers of visitors return after a major refurbishment.

The art deco Regal Theatre complex in the centre of Stowmarket was facing closure in 2005 as it was revealed it was running at a loss of £47,000 a year.

Now Stowmarket Town Council, which owns the building, has been told that thousands of people have been enjoying the cinema's revamped facilities.


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Town clerk Malcolm Baker, who gave a report to councillors on Wednesday evening , said: “During August, cinema attendance at the Regal topped 2,500 and this was the best monthly figure for 10 years.

“This followed the record figures in July for Mamma Mia! The inconsistent weather is thought to have had an effect but according to our records similar weather prevailed in 2007.

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“In the financial year (so far), five months, the cinema audience was in excess of 11,500 - 47% up on 2007.”

The independent complex has been made over in a period style and there is even a terrace in front of the property to help encourage a café culture.

Anne Whybrow, town mayor, said: “It makes my heart glow, this is wonderful. The managers we have got there have worked hard, we are getting the right films in, and people who have not seen the inside of the theatre for 30 or 40 years are coming back.

“We have ladies coming from Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury and beyond who attend regularly every week, see their film, and have a nice cup of tea or drink in the bar area.

“It's not part of chain, it's a community spirited venue - the way theatres should be. We have invested phenomenally in refurbishing the building, the whole site has been upgraded with new seating and carpets.

“The bar area has also been revamped, the sound system improved, one of the projectors updated too.

“It is yet another happening place in Stowmarket. It's one of our facilities and its future is secure as far as we are concerned.”

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