Regal in name and in nature

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IF you are a lover of films and cinema, today all you have to do is sit back in your armchair and enjoy the latest chick flick or the latest comedy.

But for generations of Brechiners a visit to the cinema was a weekly or, in some cases, a daily ritual not only to see films, but also to catch up on the news.

Amazing, at one time there were three separate cinemas in the city of Brechin alone.

The most famous is probably the King’s which was opened in the late 1920s.

However, there was also the Olympia which began life between the wars in Commerce Street and then, as the “Brechin Advertiser” revealed, was reborn under the title “The Regal” and how appropriate a name for such a fine looking building where Roy Rogers and Flash Gordon shared the screen along with news of the events from around the world.

The Brechiner explained at the time: “From the advertisement it will be seen that the former Olympia Cinema in City Road, which has been closed since the beginning of the year, is to be re-opened under new management and under the designation of “The Regal”.

“The cinema was acquired recently by Mr John D. McEwan, Dunfermline, who has had the whole building refurnished and re-decorated and has installed the best “talkie” apparatus procurable, absolutely the latest model and entirely of British manufacture.

“Practically everything in the operating room is in duplicate, so as to avoid even a temporary breakdown. The premises have been repainted by Mr D. McIntosh and Sons, Brechin and the whole building rewired for electric light and brought up-to-date in every respect.

“A gangway has been erected on the south side for the special exit and the new automatic curtain is worked from the operating room. New tip-up seating is provided in the balcony, new flooring laid, and everything possible done, to secure the comfort of patrons. The whole cinema has been adapted to the most modern city standards.

“It will be Mr McEwan’s endeavour to spare no effort in securing the latest and best sound films and patrons may rely on a very high standard of programmes being maintained.

“The Regal will be opened on Monday night with a very attractive programme full of which are advertised. The feature film will be a fascinating all-talking and singing Irish-romance “Song of my Heart” in which the popular tenor John McCormack made his sensational screen debut.

“In addition, Slim Somerville will appear in an entertaining comedy, “We, We Marie”. Later in the week Constance Bennett will be starred in an absorbing drama “Sin Takes a Holiday”.”

The Regal originally opened as “(The Olympia) in November 1915 with 563 seats in the 1859-United Presbyterian Church.

It closed 1931; reopened as the Regal in December 1931. Closed in January 1963; Demolished in the 1960s.

The Kings was opened October 1927 with 820 seats and closed in October 1985. Of course, it would soon re-open as Flicks Nightclub. While the dancing may have started there, there is still real regret that Brechin’s cinemamatic past, which had great depth and culture as well as a varied programme at locally accessed locations, is no more.

At one time Brechin could also boast Melvin’s Picture Palace in the Empire, Scott Street, which was demolished in September 1910 and subsequently became an old skating rink (wooden shed).

The new Empire was re-opened after the Great War in 1918, but was subsequently destroyed by fire on March 25, 1920.