The Regal

The Regal

ABC Handsworth

Birmingham’s first cinema purpose-built to show sound films, opening eight months after the Futurist screened the first talkie in the city. It was also one of the largest in the suburbs, and included a Compton organ and its own orchestra who regularly performed live on the wireless. The name of the cinema was apparently taken from the initial letters of the others cinemas in Handsworth (Rookery, Elite, Grand Palace, Albion and Lozells).

Around 1959 the Regal was renamed the ABC Handsworth, and a decade later it closed down. Brief stints as an Asian cinema and a Mecca bingo followed in the 1970s. In 1978 Indira Gandhi appeared at the venue during a controversial visit to Britain, with 1000 police deployed outside the building to deal with over 2000 protestors. At one point during her speech a man tore through the screen behind her and had to be restrained by security. The Regal was demolished in 1980.

397 Soho Road, Handsworth, B21 9SF 

The Regal opening in Modern Cinema Technique.

“The opening on Sunday evening last of the Regal Cinema, at Handsworth, Birmingham, marks the completion of what is claimed to be the city’s largest and most beautiful cinema.”

Photos courtesy Allen Eyles

We’d love to hear about your film-going experiences in Birmingham. From memories of amazing screenings or communal experiences, to grand days out at the pictures or more personal recollections. How has visiting the cinema shaped your life, and your experience of our city?

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