Reel Cinema

Union Place, Derry's Cross,
Plymouth, PL1 2SW

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Percy_Quill on June 11, 2021 at 2:41 am

Urban explorers have gotten inside. Screen 1 & 2 projection box is stripped with screen 1’s DP75 (sprockets and motors left) and it’s cake stand (no platters). Sound racks all removed. Screens are ripped from removal of the speaker drivers. Presumably done by Reel when they closed down. Video is on YouTube (Plymouth Reel Cinema).

The Plymouth Royal Cinema Trust are working on bringing the building back as a multipurpose venue with cinema and live music.

terry on June 9, 2020 at 12:44 pm

Short video about the theatre here :–

terry on June 9, 2020 at 12:40 pm

Photo uploaded of when it was a ‘proper’ cinema.

terry on June 9, 2020 at 12:33 pm

One of the worst imaginable conversions of an ABC Theatre (under the EMI banner) in 1976.

Instead of having a full width number 1 screen in the former circle and two reasonable screens in the stalls, it was decided that EMI Social Clubs would acquire the ‘lion’s share’ of the building by having Bingo in the stalls resulting in the loss of the fully equipped stage and the famous Compton Organ which was broadcast for years on BBC Radio (Dudley Savage: ‘As Prescribed’).

The three screens, therefore, had to be ‘shoehorned in’ upstairs with the circle being split two thirds and one third whilst the grand entrance foyer was lowered to accommodate the third cinema (running along the building’s width).

Neither Screen 1 nor Screen 2 are symmetrical, being totally ‘cock eyed’ with an original ornate side wall and a ‘plain’ 1976 dividing wall – shocking!

ABC/EMI committed similar acts of vandalism at three other elaborate large capacity ‘live’ venues in Aldershot, Chester and Wigan, the results being equally as appalling.

I suppose that in Wigan it did not matter so much (no Odeon) but in Plymouth, Chester and Aldershot there were fine Rank theatres to compete with – how vastly inferior the ABC’s were to the Rank venues afterwards!

DavidZornig on June 9, 2020 at 9:26 am

Stumbled across this on the Haunted History Facebook page.

History & Haunting of Plymouth’s Reel Cinema,Plymouth, Devon, England Plymouth’s Reel Cinema has plenty of claims to fame. It played host to the likes of The Beatles in the 1960s as well as many others. And now it reportedly hosts a number of ghosts. The building was erected on the site of the former Theatre Royal. And ‘Emily’ is a former actress who reportedly haunts the cinema’s ‘screen two’. Emily is said to have committed suicide in one of the dressing rooms of the old theatre. One of the projectionists at the cinema has reportedly seen a woman sitting in one of the front rows wearing a 1940s-style dress. During the Blitz a German bomb reportedly exploded near the front of the building killing a group of people rushing out of the theatre to get to a nearby bomb shelter. In 2010 a woman visited the women’s toilets and locked herself in a cubicle. She became startled when someone or something knocked on the cubicle door. On opening the door, the woman found no-one there. A strange young man has also been seen walking around another screen at the cinema. The man reportedly sits behind someone – but all that can be seen is the seat go down as if someone is sitting there. ? :/

Black Cats Paranormal Channel investigation here > In 1758 a theatre was built at the top of George Street in Plymouth. Originally known as the Theatre, Frankfort-Gate, it adopted the name Theatre Royal after King George III and his family visited it in 1789. The decline in theatre-going caused by the rise in cinema attendance resulted in the building being demolished in 1937. It was replaced by the 2,400-seat Royal Cinema, which opened the following year. The cinema survived the Plymouth Blitz during the Second World War, which destroyed the adjoining hotel and assembly rooms. By 1954 the decline in cinema-going caused by the rise of television led to the cinema’s being partly converted back to a theatre and rechristened as the Theatre Royal Cinema. In 1958 it was renamed the ABC Plymouth. It is now a three-screen cinema known as the Reel Plymouth, run by Reel Cinemas.

allegroman on July 13, 2018 at 9:08 am

The Royal Cinema is 80 years old this weekend, the only WR Glen cinema to have continuously operated as a cinema from construction to the present day. Under threat, we have formed a Trust to try and save this delightful building, and are supporting the efforts by the current local management to promote the cinema and keep it open. If you’re in Plymouth on July 15th, please come along and support the Royal/ABC/Reel!

d8rren on March 26, 2018 at 10:06 am

Reopened after flooding on 07/01/18

Buffer on January 6, 2018 at 11:19 am

Both Bingo hall and cinema closed “until further notice” after New years flooding in 2018.

Billy on December 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Still as of 2014 displaying obsolete ABC logos around the entrance, many years after said cinema chain went defunct!

CSWalczak on September 16, 2012 at 10:56 pm

This theater is open.

Ian on August 6, 2012 at 12:57 am

Exterior shot of the Reel (under the Cannon banner) in 1991:–


raoulgough on June 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm

There’s a series of articles about this cinema at the link below, with a new page for each of the names by which it was known (Royal Cinema, Theatre Royal, ABC Plymouth, etc.) One of the pages mentions that the Beatles played here in 1963.

View link

I saw Peter Jackson’s King Kong at this cinema at the end of 2005 on the big screen. The place was definitely a little run-down, and only about ten people there (with room for 500!), but a great place to see such a film. Way bigger and better than any multiplex I’ve been to.

Ian on March 25, 2010 at 2:10 am

Interior shot of one of the screens in 1991:–

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 26, 2009 at 7:30 am

The Reel Cinema and Gala Bingo Club, photographed in June 2009:

Aaron77 on September 18, 2008 at 11:04 am


Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 5, 2008 at 7:47 am

A photograph of the rear of the Reel Cinema, in October 2007:

Aaron77 on July 17, 2008 at 8:30 am

My main point was renovation, There is nothing wrong with keeping the glory of the old art deco look, Just keep up with the times.
A lot of the old remaining movie theaters in america have been renovated to keep up with todays standerds. See the lake theater in oak park, Illinois or the york theater in elmhurst, Illinois…Or the chicago theater for that matter…All 3 of these theaters are listed on cinema treasures.

Aaron77 on July 15, 2008 at 6:52 am

This movie theater is pretty rundown. It is in badly need of renovation, Inside and out. I went in there and saw ‘'HANCOCK’‘ just to find that the flooring in this place is all wood. That got me thinking ’‘What if a fire broke out’‘ This place would go up like a tinder box not giving anybody a chance to even get out. VERY UNSAFE!!! Another thing about this theater, There is no ventilation. Very uncomfortable & stuffy. Just another breeding ground for airborn bacteria and viruses. But given a chance and a massive renovation, This theater could be a very nice place to be. Maybe it would be better as a preforming arts center or concert venue or a movie theater again. But it’s plain to see that this cinema is doomed. I am surprised that it’s been standing this long. In america this place would of met the wrecking ball decades ago.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 15, 2008 at 5:09 am

A vintage ariel view of the Royal Cinema, in 1948, showing a patched-up roof, possibly after war-time damage:
A vintage photograph of the ABC in 1972:
View link
Photographed as the Cannon in 1991:
View link
Circle foyer in 1991:
View link