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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

The Odeon Cinema

The Buckland Picture House opened on 27 December 1920, in  London Road, close to the junction with Cherry Tree Avenue.  Designed by Worsfold and Hayward of Dover, it was a rather  plain building seating 533. The name was changed to the  Regent Picture House in 1923 and sound equipment was  installed in December 1930.   By the mid 1930s, however, the entertainment scene in Dover was dominated by the Granada super cinema and the little  Regent was hopelessly outclassed. Plans were drawn up for a  new cinema on the site that could compete with the Granada. The old Regent closed on 31 May 1936 and was soon  demolished so that work could start on the new cinema. The new cinema was air conditioned and seated 1850 people  in stalls and balcony. The latest sound system was installed,  Western Electric Microphone Sound, which was new on the  market in 1937.  Although there was no organ installed there  were full stage facilities, complete with dressing rooms as it  was intended that variety acts were to be part of the  performances. The interior did not follow an ornate decorative theme but was finished in the modern, streamlined style of  many 1930s cinemas.   The Regent was opened on 27 March 1937 by the Marquess  of Willingdon, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.  Will Hay the  popular comedian was guest of honour, which ensured all the  seats were sold.  The opening film was ‘The Great Barrier’  starring Richard Arlen and Lilli Palmer, plus a Technicolor  cartoon and a newsreel.  The programme also included a  stage presentation with Hal Tauber and his Regent Orchestra. In July 1943 the Regent became part of the Odeon chain,  although it was a number of years before the name was  changed. The cinema was successful but by the mid 1960s  was facing the problem faced by cinemas across the country,  declining audiences due to competition from television. On 2  October 1971 the cinema finally closed and was eventually  demolished to make was for a modern Territorial Army base.  
The Buckland Picture House c.1920. The Regent Cinema in March 1937.  A photograph from opening week. The Granada Cinema, 1937.  The Stalls. The Granada Cinema, 1937.  The Balcony. The Regent Cinema, 1938.  The advertising display for 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'. The Odeon Cinema, 1971.