CHRISTCHURCH’S Regent Centre is preparing to reopen to the public next month after completion of a major £350,000 renovation project inspired by the 1930s.
Hailed as the most significant restoration in the theatre’s 89-year history, much of the work has been undertaken this summer as the venue remained closed during the pandemic.
Having previously committed to the major project in a bid to secure its future, the venue raised £350,000 in two years enabling work to begin in late June as planned.
Gary Trinder, chairman of the Regent and project lead for the restoration, said the aim was to simplify the decorative scheme from 14 different colours to five to enhance the building’s original features.
The new shades of deep rose, metallic silver and gold, together with black and dark brown colours, are typical of the 1930s. The new decorative scheme throughout the auditorium, foyer and staircases was undertaken by BCP Council which tendered for the work and used local craftspeople to apply the specialist finishes.
A new bespoke woven Axminster carpet was made in the UK by Brintons, who used historic design to create a pattern from the 1930s.
Legroom has been increased, and new seating with high-comfort Posturepedic foam has been manufactured using a traditional period design.
Regent Centre general manager Matthew Vass-White revealed that some original fixtures have also been restored and refitted.
He said: “When clearing out the void below the circle, two of the original lighting fittings were found which Shipman and King installed in the late 1950s. The Festival of Britain Exhibition influenced the design of these fittings, which are now very rare in a UK cinema. Having been fully restored they have now been refitted in their original positions on the auditorium sidewalls.”
Other improvements to cinema sound, auditorium lighting and the stage have also been undertaken during the closure.
Mr Vass-White added: “The Regent Centre had become a little worn around the edges and we are pleased that we were able to continue with the restoration project through a very challenging time. Indeed, we’ve heard of many theatres and cinemas who have utilised this time to undertake many similar projects.”
Planning is now under way to reopen the Regent Centre for film screenings from November with a range of new Covid-safe measures in place including enhanced clearing and new equipment.
Mr Vass-White said: “Our staff and volunteers are in the process of undergoing a Covid-19 training course certified by the UK Cinema Association, and we’ve thought through every possible scenario to make sure that we can adapt to circumstances as they continue to change.
“We will be operating at a budget deficit until a national solution is found and we very much appreciate the support of our customers who continue to purchase tickets, buy gift vouchers and make donations with us.”