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Off to the Talkies

By Nat Fox,

In January 1931, William Edgar Pope, a former blacksmith, opened the first cinema in Wadebridge. Film lovers no longer had to travel to Padstow’s Cinedrome to watch the classics, or catch the occasional film in the Town Hall.

This was the era of the ‘Talkies’, a new film genre. Sound was added to the moving images bringing the film to life. Before this, movies were silent.

Times were hard, but the Great Depression did not stop excited cinema lovers from going to Wadebridge’s Cinedrome, dubbed ‘Cornwall’s newest and best talkie theatre’. On any given night, you could watch productions like Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City of Lights’, see John Barrymore star in ‘Moby Dick’, or watch other notable pictures like ‘Hell’s Island’ and ‘The Grand Parade’. The cinema was renamed The Regal in 1944.

In the 1960s, Wadebridge nearly lost its beloved cinema, but luckily it was acquired by W. T. Williams, a local business who still owns it today.

The new owners made many upgrades over the years, and projectionist Richard ‘Dick’ Symons saw many changes in his 65-year career at The Regal, including the move from 35mm film to digital movies.

Manager Robert Williams said: “He was an enthusiast for cinema projectors from a young age and loved nothing more than taking a 35mm projector to pieces and putting it back together again!”

The Regal hosted the premieres of Amy Foster and Saving Grace, both Hollywood productions. “Great events that played to sell out audiences,” Robert remembered. “Since 2013 The Regal has been streaming live opera, ballet and theatre productions. The Regal has been part of Wadebridge since 1931 and we hope to continue being part of the community for many more years to come.”


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