Webpage created: November 01, 2017
Webpage updated: May 08, 2021
ROYAL CINEMA (1937-1954)
On April 11th 1937 the Theatre Royal in George Street, Plymouth, was demolished. It had stood for 126 years. It was pulled down in order to make way for a purpose-built cinema to be known as the Royal Cinema.
Owned by Messrs Associated British Cinemas Limited and designed by their own architect, Mr William R Glen FRIAS, it was constructed by Messrs Brazier & Son Ltd, of Southampton, Hampshire, with the support of many local sub-contractors. At the invitation of Mr A S Moss, the general manager and licensee, the cinema was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Mr Solomon Stephens, at 7pm on Friday July 15th 1938. The manager was Mr T Purdie.
The first films were "Stage Door", staring Miss Katherine Hepburn, Miss Ginger Rogers, and Mr Adolphe Menjou, which was supported by Mr Cesar Romero Miss Phyllis Brooks in "Dangerously Yours".
As a special treat the newly built 730-pipe organ, manufactured by Messrs John Compton Organ Company Ltd, of Chase Road, North Acton, London NW10, was played by Mr Wilfred Southworth from the Forum Cinema in Birmingham. Mr Southworth, who was only 38 years of age, unfortunately drowned on Saturday July 23rd 1938, while bathing off Wembury. He was replaced on Monday July 25th 1938 by a young Cornishman by the name of Mr William Dudley Savage.
Prices upon opening were: until 3.30pm, stalls 6d, circle 1s; after 3.30pm, Mondays to Fridays, front stalls 6d, rear stalls 1s, rear circle 1/3d, front circle 1/6d; after 3.30pm, Saturdays & holidays, front stalls 6d, rear stalls 1s, rear circle 1/6d, front circle 2s.
On June 10th 1948 Mr Dudley Savage made the first broadcast of "As Prescribed" on the BBC's West of England Home Service.
During the Second World War Plymouth only the New Palace Theatre of Varieties in Union Street remained unscathed, although many of its more modern cinemas survived. The City badly needed somewhere to hold stage productions and at somebody's instigation the Royal Cinema installed stage facilities to fulfil that missing role. As a result in January 1954 it was given the name of the Theatre Royal that it had replaced back in 1938.