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16-20 Crouch Street (south side)


16-20 Crouch Street, including former Regal (later Odeon) cinema.
[JB] Cinema (now closed) by Cecil Masey, 1931. Spanish-style gabled front.
Masey was a well-known cinema architect, and this building originally had an 'atmospheric' interior and included a cafe, Wurlitzer organ, and full stage facilities. The interior was subdivided in 1974 and the cinema closed in 2002. Now derelict. A distinctive building and an increasingly rare survival. [JB]

(Jaggers' list)

The cinema building included flanking ground-floor shops and, inside, full stage facilities and dressing rooms. Live performances were presented at the Regal as well as films.

Similar design to EMD cinema in Walthamstow, London?? [Spanish/Moorish style] - also designed by Masey - now derelict

The Tooting Granada cinema in south London, designed by Masey and built 1931, is now listed Grade 1; it was the first cinema to be preserved and given a Grade I listing - see
There is currently (2011-12) a campaign to save the Walthamstow Granada cinema in London, also designed by Cecil Masey, as a public venue - see

The former Odeon (the Colchester Regal) is referred to in the prestigious architectual guide 'The buildings of England: Essex', written by Niklaus Pevsner in 1954 and updated by James Bettley in 2007, pp 293-4.

The Essex Record Office holds ERO D/B 6 Pb3/5532 - 1930, building plan of Regal Cinema, building line and canopy drainage, Crouch Street, Colchester (9 plans, 4 documents); produced for D. Ager and others (owner) by Cecil Masey (architect) , W. Chambers and Son, also Pitchers Construction Co. Ltd. [builders]

The ERO holds ERO D/B 6 Pb3/5610, 1930, [building plan of revisions in connection with restaurant, Regal Cinema, CROUCH STREET, COLCHESTER], for D. Ager and others (owner), by Cecil Masey (architect) and Pilcher Construction Co. [builders]

The ERO holds ERO T/P 805/1, 1991-1992, 'On Screen Colchester: The Story of Colchester's Cinemas', a typescript history of cinemas in Colchester by Bernard Polley (discusses the following cinemas: Electric Theatre (later called Headgate Cinema and Cameo Cinema), St John's Street, 1910-1976; The Vaudeville Electric Theatre (later called the Empire Cinema), Mersea Road, 1911-demolished 1971; the Hippodrome, High Street, 1905-1961, later used as bingo hall and now nightclub; The Playhouse (later ABC), St John's Street, 1929-1981, now ??; The Regal (later Odeon), Crouch Street, 1931-2002), now unused.

There is a documentary, c 1930, of the building of the Colchester Regal cinema, held by the East Anglian Film Archive, at There is also some footage of Crouch Street, including the cinema, taken in 1961, at

There is a biography of the organ (Opus 1840) of the Colchester Regal at - made in 1928 in the US, it was installed in the Regal in 1931 and stayed there until 1963. It is now at the Singing Hills Golf Course, Albourne, Sussex. Read more at

*** 6th March 2012, article in the 'Essex County Standard' - '... Colchester's former Odeon cinema is up for sale with a price tag of £1.5 million ...' (Previously there was a proposal to convert the building to a nightclub and then to demolish it.)

View old photo.s of the cinema at:,,

Eric Rudsdale went to see a film at the Regal on 28th January 1942 (see 'E. J. Rudsdale's journals of wartime Colchester', published 2011, and the blog of the journals online). Mr Rudsdale was a curator at Colchester Museum and wrote a diary of life in Colchester during WW2.

Cinemas played a significant role in the social and cultural life of people before television. See, for example, 'SN 5253 - Cinema Culture in 1930s Britain, 1920-1939' at

4 photo.s by jA, summer 2009

Cecil A Masey LRIBA has an entry in the 'Directory of British Architects 1834-1914'

Cinemas designed by Masey:
ABC Dover Dover, United Kingdom Closed 1 [screen]
ABC Maidstone Maidstone, United Kingdom Closed 3
ABC Piccadilly Circus London, United Kingdom Closed 2
Carlton Cinema Watford, United Kingdom Closed 1
Century Cinema London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Classic Leeds Leeds, United Kingdom Closed 1
Classic Strand London, United Kingdom Closed 1
EMD Cinema London, United Kingdom Closed 3
Electric Theatre Bournemouth, United Kingdom Closed 1
Eros Cinema London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Essoldo Queensbury Queensbury, United Kingdom Closed 1
Gaumont Penge London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Granada Clapham Junction London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Granada Edmonton London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Granada Enfield Enfield, United Kingdom Closed 1
Granada Greenford Greenford, United Kingdom Closed 1
Granada Kingston upon Thames Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom Closed 3
Granada Leytonstone London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Granada Shrewsbury Shrewsbury, United Kingdom Closed 1
Granada Slough Slough, United Kingdom Closed 3
Granada Tooting London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Granada Willesden London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Granada Woolwich London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Jacey Leicester Square London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Jacey Marble Arch London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Jacey Trafalgar Square London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Jacey in the Strand London, United Kingdom Closed 1
London Pavilion London, United Kingdom Closed 1
New Bolelyn Theatre London, United Kingdom Closed
New Boleyn Electric Theatre London, United Kingdom Closed 1
New Wimbledon Theatre London, United Kingdom Open 1
Odeon Colchester Colchester, United Kingdom Closed 6
Odeon Ealing London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Odeon Hayes Hayes, United Kingdom Closed 1
Odeon Kensal Rise London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Palladium Cinema London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Phoenix Theatre London, United Kingdom Open 1
Plaza Cinema London, United Kingdom Closed 1
Princes Cinema London, United Kingdom Closed 1

This building is included in the database of the Theatres Trust online at -…

In 1937, famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and 'the architect of the Phoenix Theatre' Cecil Masey were commissioned to design the National Theatre on the South Bank in London. The National Theatre and the Phoenix Theatre in London are both in use (2012).
In September 2011, still some fittings, decor and equipment inside the Odeon - see images at
- also see interior photo.s at

Brief bio on the Scottish architects web-site at -
'... Cecil Aubrey Masey
Designation: Architect
Born: 28 December 1880
Died: 1960
Bio Notes: Cecil Aubrey Masey practised in London, and worked in partnership with Roy Young from 1909.
business - London, England ...'

History of the Colchester Regal/Odeon in the VCH:
'... Films were shown in the Corn Exchange in 1898. (fn. 43) In 1910 Grand Electric Empires Ltd. opened the Electric theatre in the former Liberal club lecture hall in Headgate. The programme, which ran from 2.30 p.m. until 11 p.m., included a selection of piano pieces and several different films; afternoon tea was served in the interval. The cinema, known as the Headgate, was acquired by Ager's Cinema Circuit Ltd. in 1922 and screened Colchester's first talking picture. (fn. 44) In 1924 Arthur Askey, the comedian (d. 1982), made his professional stage debut in one of a series of concert parties in the cinema. (fn. 45) A leading cinema circuit, County, were the owners in 1937. (fn. 46) The cinema was known as the Cameo Arts cinema by 1967, when a branch of the National Film Theatre met there monthly. (fn. 47) In 1972 it became part of the Star Group of enterprises; the cinema closed in 1976. (fn. 48)
The Vaudeville Electric theatre in Mersea Road, opened by David Ager in 1911, was the town's first purpose-built cinema. The Gaumont British Picture Corporation acquired it in 1927 and renamed it the Empire. In 1959 it closed and the building was used as a warehouse; it was demolished in 1971. (fn. 49)
The Regal, opened in Crouch Street in 1931, was designed in Spanish style by the cinema architect Cecil Massey, and was the headquarters of Ager's Cinema Circuit Ltd. (fn. 50) In 1937 it was owned by the County circuit, in which Oscar Deutsch, who had opened the chain of Odeon theatres, had a controlling interest, and in 1938 it was acquired and renamed the Odeon. The building was extensively remodelled in 1964; 10 years later the interior was completely reconstructed to provide three screens, and it became the Odeon film centre; (fn. 51) a fourth screen was added in 1987 and two more in 1991 when alterations to the building gave a 30 per cent increase in seating capacity. (fn. 52) In 1992 the Odeon was the only cinema in Colchester ...' -

Also see 'New Regal brought welcome boost to the building industry' -…

Also see 'A Young Boy's War in Addlestone and Ardleigh' by h albion, part of the BBC's WW2 People's War project, at

See 'Old Cinemas' by Allen Eyles

The Regal -
7th December - 'the big teenage special' starring Cliff Richard with 'big supporting bill'
4th October - Cliff Richard and 'all star show', at 5.30 and 8.
20th December - Lonnie Donegan, Miki & Griff, Des O'Connor (Sunday concert)
27th November - Adam Faith, John Barry Seven, Johnny Worth, The Honeys, Johnny Le Roy, Chris Carlsen (compere), at 5.30 and 8 - 'The stars on one night stands'.

The Odeon -
1st October - Adam Faith & The Roulettes, John Barry Seven, David Macbeth, Desmond Lane, Johnny Le Roy, Dave Allen (compere) plus The Honeys, Gerry Dorsey
Johnny Le Roy, Chris Carlsen (compere), at 5.30 and 8 - 'Adam Faith / John Barry Seven / and all star show'.
14th January - Helen Shapiro, The Brook Brothers, The Four Jays, Red Price Band, The Dale Sisters, Colin Day, Dave Allen (compere)
[3rd March - Billy Fury & the Outlaws or Tornados, John Leyton (not all shows),
Eden Kane, Karl Denver Trio, Shane Fenton & The Fentones, Joe Brown & The Bruvvers, Jackie Lynton, Ricky Stevens, Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers, Don Munday (compere) [promoter: Larry Parnes] - "The Big Star Show of 1962"]
14th October - The Shadows, Chas McDevitt & Shirley Douglas, The Jones Boys, The Dale Sisters, The Trebletones
16th December - Helen Shapiro, Eden Kane, Arthur Worsley with Charlie Brown, The Vernons Girls, The Kestrels, Red Price & His Orchestra, Rhet Stoller & The Dynamics, Billy Burden, Bobby Dennis
15th September - Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas, Tommy Roe, The Fourmost, Tommy Quickly, Heinz & The Saints, The Dennisons, Johnny Sandon & The Remo Four, Chris Carlsen (compere)
26th October - Gerry & The Pacemakers, Del Shannon, Jet Harris & Tony Meehan, The Bachelors, Duffy Power, Cilla Black, Bryan Burdon, Blue Diamonds
9th December - Billy Fury
Joe Brown, Karl Denver Trio, The Tornados, Marty Wilde, Daryl Quist, Dickie Pride,
The Ramblers, Larry Burns (compere) - [Freddie & The Dreamers replaced Joe Brown at some of the October and December concerts]
18th April - Adam Faith, The Searchers (some shows), Eden Kane, Dave Berry & The Cruisers, The Roulettes, The Undertakers, Lorraine Gray, Dave Curtiss & The Tremors, Barry O'Dowde, with Freddie & The Dreamers (some shows) and Brian Poole & The Tremeloes (some shows)
8th September - Rolling Stones, Inez and Charlie Foxx, Mike Berry & The Innocents, Simon Scott & The Le Roys, The Mojos, Don Spencer (compere) [promoter Robert Stigwood]
8th November - Gerry & The Pacemakers, Gene Pitney, Kinks, Marianne Faithfull, Mike Cotton Sound, Bobby Shafto Bryan Burdon (compere) [promoter : Brian Epstein/Arthur Howes]
13th February - Del Shannon, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, Herman's Hermits,
Just Four Men, Jerry Stevens, Dodie West, The Soul Savages featuring Paul Dean, The Dollies, Zephyrs
7th April - Searchers, Dusty Springfield, Bobby Vee, Zombies, Tony Jackson & The Vibrations, Heinz & The Wild Boys, Echoes, George Meaton (compere)


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