Built on the site of the Theatre Royal (1813-1937, architect J. Foulston), the Royal Cinema was built for and operated by Associated British Cinemas(ABC)
The Royal Cinema opened on 15th July 1938 with Katherine Hepburn in “Stage Door” and Cesar Romero in “Dangerously Yours”
The Royal Cinema was re-named ABC from 28th April 1958 following a renovation.
Live stage shows (pop shows) were held here during the 1960’s and the last time the stage was used was for a Morcambe & Wise comedy show.
The ABC closed on 30th October 1976 for conversion into a triple-screen cinema and bingo club.
The final films in the original single auditorium were “”The Likely Lads” and “Steptoe and Son”.
The triple-screen ABC opened on 5th May 1977 with seating for 583, 380 and 112.
ABC Cinemas passed to the Cannon Group, then to MGM from 22nd May 1992. A management buy-out brought the name ABC back again in the mid-1990’s.
A Gala Bingo Club operated in the former stalls area and the Compton organ was removed from this part of the building, to be re-installed in the Blackheath Halls in South-East London.
The cinemas continued and from 1st August 2006 have been operated by the independent Reel Cinemas chain.
Sadly, the inevitable arrived on Thursday 28th February 2019, when the Reel Cinema was closed.