The Regal Fordingbridge

29 JANUARY 2019

It is said that the Regal opened in 1933 however the 1927 Kine Year Book lists a Picture House Fordingbridge (one show nightly Thursday and Friday, two shows Saturday) and there are plans in existence, probably dating from 1935, which were prepared for the then owner Walter Haggar by Bristol architect E.H. Greenwood which proposed quite radical changes to the building including a widening of the auditorium and a complete rejig of the entrance to the cinema, changes from which the Regal emerged in its present form. The 1935 Kine Year Book still quotes the Picture House (proprietor W Haggar) and it is not until the publication of the 1936 edition that the Regal is mentioned…..One show three nights weekly, two shows on Saturday. Walter Haggar was quoted as the owner by 1931.

The cinema was said to have had 290 seats in 1933. The 1936 edition quotes 250 so it is possible that the above mentioned changes were due to the removal of a small balcony. The proscenium width was 20 feet and films were delivered by Marmion Film Transport, the Portsmouth based couriers.

Walter Haggar was the eldest son of William Haggar one of the pioneers of the travelling Bioscope show in Wales. Walter was responsible for financing the cinema. Born in Burnley in 1880, he moved to 38 King George Avenue in Bournemouth after his father William died. Walter Haggar died in Fordingbridge in 1953, survived by his wife Ada.

The 1951 Kine Year has seating down to 223. By this time it was operated by Constellation Pictures, owned by Mr and Mrs Haggar (relationship to Walter not known) and controlled from their Plaza cinema in Lyndhurst. They also operated the Palace cinema in Hayle, Cornwall.

The Regal closed circa 1965 and soon after, Branksome Pottery moved in and used the premises to manufacture and market their products. All three of the Haggar cinemas had BT-H projection equipment.

The pottery closed in 2012 and the building stood empty for a time while the owners applied for demolition and housing redevelopment on the site. The plan was turned down by Fordingbridge Town Council who wanted to keep the building and see it converted to another use. Fortunately it is now owned by a local electronics firm. The new owners have converted the building into accommodation for their staff while retaining the outward appearance of the building and have constructed a small cinema on the ground floor.