Monday, 30 January 2012

Object of the Week 6: Revealed

Congratulations to Steve on twitter who recognised the shutters in the projection room and guessed at a use for fire prevention!
The picture was indeed of a black shutter from the projection room. You can see a wider angled shot of it here:

There are four windows which look from the projector room down into the auditorium, two for each of the two original projectors. They're set at different heights because the lower one was for the projector to shine through and the higher one for the projectionist to look down into the auditorium and check how the screening was progressing. In early cinema, the quality of the film projection depended very much on the skill of the projectionist. There were many different things that could go wrong with a film, from the speed of the film to the brightness of the light, even the colour of the light in the early days, so it was important that the projectionist had a good view of what the audience were seeing so that they could fix anything that was wrong.
Each of the four windows into the auditorium has its own shutter, branded 'Kalee' - Gaumont Kalee made the original projectors that were installed in the projection room of the Regal in 1937. They are all attached to the horizontal bar you can see in this picture:

And what were they for? Well, they had various uses, but their main purpose was to act as a fire break between the projector room and the auditorium. Early film was very flammable; the fumes were toxic and the fires very hard to put out. It wasn't unusual for film to heat up travelling through the projector and catch fire.
If that happened, the projectionists could pull a lever which would immediately drop the four shutters, which are heavy iron slabs, down in front of the windows to stop the smoke from entering the auditorium for long enough for the public to be evacuated. The wires which connect the shutters to the top bar also contained a metal with a low melting point, so that if the fire had incapacitated the projectionists or they hadn't noticed, the wires would melt and the shutters would come down automatically.
Down in the auditorium, there is a handle which connects to the horizontal bar. It is next to the usher's seats at the back, so that in case of an emergency, the ushers could release the shutters and effectively stop the film's projection.

Have a look for it the next time you're in the auditorium! If you ask one of the staff or volunteers, they should be able to point it out for you.

We hope you enjoyed this week's mystery object! A mystery film will be up on Friday...

Friday, 27 January 2012

Object of the Week 6

Happy Friday everyone!

We've got another object from in situ at the cinema for you to guess at today. You might recognise the picture, but do you know what it was used for?

Happy guessing! Remember, you can submit your answers through the comments here on the blog, or over on our facebook page, or on twitter. We'll have the answer up early next week.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Who wants to be a volunteer?

The work continues on schedule at the cinema, and the time is fast approaching for the behind-the-scenes event that we've been planning to give you a chance to actually get inside the cinema during the construction works. The date for this will be revealed soon so that you can put it in your diaries and secure your (free!) tickets, but in the meantime we're looking for volunteers who'd like to be involved in the day; people to be tour guides and people who'd like to help out with the other jobs, such as staffing the welcome desk, putting together information packs ahead of time and the like.

We're looking for enthusiastic, outgoing people who like to talk to the public. You'll need to be free for a couple of hours or more in the daytime, either at the weekend or in the week, whichever suits you best. Don't worry if you don't know a lot about the cinema already, we'll give you full training on everything you need to know (though reading through this blog is an excellent start!).

In return for your help we provide you with as much tea and coffee as you can drink whilst you're here (and probably some biscuits). And if you're a tour guide, you'll even get to wear a hard hat!

If you're interested, get in touch. You can contact us by email on or through twitter if that suits you better, and we'll send you out a volunteer information pack.

We had such a fantastic response to our Open Days before the construction work began, so our Behind the Scenes events are set to be very popular. It's a great time to get involved!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Art is on the Wall

Rather than the writing, in the Regal auditorium it's definitely the paintings which are on the wall. As anyone who has been in the Regal will tell you, pictures don't really do the fantastic Mediterranean-style mural justice (not that it stops us from trying!) - you really have to visit the cinema to see their true glory for yourself.

A major part of the restoration work is the restoration of these fantastic wall paintings. The mural artist has been on site since the beginning of January and will be there until late March; cleaning and restoring the entire auditorium by yourself is a big job!

The scaffolding that is up in the auditorium allows for some unique viewpoints on the mural, so in today's post I'll be sharing some photographs of the mural restoration in progress with you.

Wisteria hanging near the ceiling of the auditorium.

The wisteria section, with the mural artist's toolkit.

The first job was to clean all of the walls with a damp sponge. Just water was used, as some chemical cleaners might have damaged the paint. As you might expect, washing all of the walls in the auditorium with a sponge was quite a long job, but important; dust, dirt and nicotine staining from the years when you were allowed to smoke in the cinema had all combined to form a brown stain across all of the paintwork.

Part of the style in which the mural is painted is known as 'trompe l'oeil' which is French for 'decieve the eye'. This means making a two dimensional surface look like it has depth. The best example of this is the canopies above the windows into the projector room. Even in their slightly dilapidated state they are still very convincing and it takes many people a minute or two to decide if they are really sticking out from the other end of the auditorium.

The windows into the projection room.

Up on the scaffolding, you can see the shadows from the canopies that help to fool the eye into thinking they are hanging out into the auditorium. You can also see some of the damage that has occured to the paint over the years on the right-hand canopy.

After the walls were all cleaned down, the artist began the much-longer task of restoring and repairing the massive painting. There are many places where the paint has chipped or peeled off, like the damage you can see on the previous picture to the canopies. There are also sections of wall that you will have seen in previous posts where the plaster has come away from the wall entirely, destroyed by water damage from the leaking roof. Wherever there is damage, the artist uses photographs to recreate the original paintwork. As you can see from this picture, he mixes the colours as he goes. The subtle variations in colour from leaf to leaf, or roof tile to roof tile, help to add to the realism of the overall painting.

We hope you've enjoyed your introduction to the mural's restoration! We'll be bringing you more updates from the mural as the work goes on.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Mystery film: 7 - revealed!

Did you manage to guess this week's mystery film?

Steve here on the blog did - it was indeed Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. From the section in the Mines of Moria, when they're about to be attacked, if you couldn't decide which part of the film it comes from.

We'll be back with another mystery film next Friday. I think it's a difficult one, so I hope you're ready for the challenge!

Friday, 20 January 2012


Our Christmas advent calendar went down very well over on the twitter feed, so for 2012 we're launching a new film-related feature on our twitter account. Are you good at naming films from the quotes? Then this is the game for you!

Every week on Monday morning we'll be posting a film-quote to get your week started. If you can tell us what film it's from, we'll tweet you a round of applause! If no-one has guessed it by the end of the week we'll let you know what it was.

We'll be tagging our quizzes with #RegalFQQ so you can easily find past quotes if you want to.

It's good practice for the film-related quizzes we'll be having later in the year with actual prizes, so why not join in with our mini-film-quote-quiz now?

Look out for the first quote this coming Monday.

Happy QuoteQuizzing everyone!

Mystery film: 7

It's that time again, folks... time for another mystery film of the week!

What do you think is showing this week? Let us know your thoughts through the usual methods; blog, twitter or facebook.

Answer coming up early next week. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Up on the Roof

Those of you who were in Tenbury last week would probably have spotted one of the Regal's cranes looming over Teme Street. As you might have guessed, this is because the work happening at the moment is the work to fix the rooves above the cinema.

Both the auditorium roof and the roof over the front of the building had to be looked at, as both had been suspected of leaking at various points in time.

The roof at the front of the building is covered in tiles on wooden batons, as you can see here:

To get a good idea of the work that needed to be done up there, the contractors started by taking all of the tiles off the roof. Then the roof was re-covered, with new wooden batons added, then the tiles all replaced back on the top again. As you can see, this is a work in progress!

The roof is unusual in ways that you can't see from the normal view down on the street. Have a look at this picture:

Here, Teme Street is to the right of the photograph, and that central valley runs parallel to the road. All of the roof in the photo from the camera over to the scaffolding covers the front of the Regal, over the shop units. That's right; there are two peaks across that roof, as well as a raised section in the centre . All of this dates to before the time of the cinema, from when the buildings at the front were houses. It's most likely that the roof was raised to make the top floor a more usable space for rooms within the houses.

Over on the other side of the building, the auditorium roof is being replaced entirely. Old asbestos sheets have been taken away and the crane that you might have seen has been putting in new panels that will protect the auditorium from wind and rain.

In the two pictures below, you can see the auditorium roof on the left and the back of the shop unit roof on the right. There's lots of interesting features to see here; the little door in the left hand picture was the old access to the auditorium roof space. Would you like to have to walk across the roof to change the auditorium light bulbs?

The windows in the right hand picture look into the projector room, and the box shape you can see in both pictures (in the middle) covers the central vent in the auditorium roof. There are two more of these, one on either side of the back section of roof (you can see tiles stacked on one in the left hand picture). These allowed air flow from outside in the original cinema ventilation system.

From here, our roof-tour takes us back to the front of the building. The flat front of the Regal was added before it became a cinema, possibly some time in the 1800s. Behind the top of the parapet you can see the pitch of the original roof, as shown in the two pictures below from both ends of the building (Teme Street is on the left in the first image, and the right in the second).

If you've looked at some plans for the Regal you will have seen that some architectural detail from the original 1930s facade is being put back onto the building frontage. We'll be looking at that a little more in later posts, but for now here's a top level detail to look out for; these little house-shaped areas with their mini roofs will be getting some three-dimensional additions to help them echo their 1930s counterparts.

We hope you've enjoyed your trip up onto the Regal roof today! We'll have more from behind the scenes at the restoration next week!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Mystery film: 6 - revealed!

Great Scott! It's time to reveal this week's mystery film!

Congratulations everyone who got this week's mystery film correct. David and Mandy on Facebook and Stephen on Twitter all knew that it was, of course, Back to the Future.

We'll have another mystery film for you next Friday. See you then!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Mystery film: 6

Welcome to 2012, and welcome back to our mystery film feature!

Since you got the hang of this so well last year you can expect some more difficult films coming your way in the next few months. We'll ease you back into it though with this week's film, I think.

An absolute classic, if I do say so myself! Definitely on the list of top ten films everyone should see in their lifetime.

We'll have the answer up early next week; in the meantime, guess away here on the blog, on twitter or on facebook. 

Monday, 2 January 2012

Mystery film: 5 - revealed!

We didn't have any guesses over Christmas on this mystery film - I guess you were all busy preparing for and then enjoying the holidays. And that's no bad thing! Hopefully it was a fantastic and merry one for all of you.

The film was, of course, the Grinch, the Jim Carrey film based on the classic Dr Seuss book 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'.

We'll be starting fresh with another new mystery film this Friday. I hope you're ready for it!