OF all the buildings in Waterford that are no longer in use, I think the one that I miss the most is the old cinema on Patrick Street. I saw a picture of the old Regina on Facebook last week and it dragged up a heap of memories that I thought had been buried forever. I then took it upon myself to do some digging of my own and crossed my fingers that an old proprietor of the cinema might want to share some memories and possibly images of the place with us. Unfortunately, he didn’t, so that was the end of that. Nevertheless, I’m going to share some of my own personal memories of the place, and if you feel so compelled, you can do the same (email or tweet me and I’ll reprint them in the coming weeks).
Being from the Cork Road, my Regina experience would begin with a dash around Dunphy’s, filling my little plastic bag with as much junk as I could find. People coming from other directions might have chosen to buy their goodies from O’Brien’s shop on Stephen Street. Back in those days it wasn’t frowned upon to walk into a cinema with a plastic bag full of super-cans, 100 penny jellies, a He-Man bar and a packet of wheelies.
On entering the Regina, you would first be met by a massive foyer that would probably be considered a waste of space in today’s ruthless times. Back then however it was an Art Gallery, exhibiting all of the magnificent movie posters of the time. From there you would move on to the positively tiny shop where you could buy your popcorn and wine gums. Unlike today’s cinema shops, the Regina didn’t require the deeds of your house before purchasing their delicious treats. You would then pick up your old fashioned ticket stub and be told which cinema your film would be showing in. Now, this is where my memory gets a little hazy. If you walked to the left, I think you would find Cinema 3. There was a big corridor running alongside it that was filled with couches for some reason. Am I wrong about this? This was the strangest part of the whole cinema and could definitely be considered a waste of space – you could have easily put a bowling alley down there. Regardless, it was a part of the Regina, so it was fine by me. According to the ad that you can see on this page, which was printed in a 1988 copy of The News & Star, there were only 3 screens. The other two were upstairs, the 2nd screen on the 2nd floor and screen 1 on the top floor.
I can remember seeing films like Superman VI and Neverending Story on the top floor, and my main memory of it was that it was absolutely humongous. As you walked in the door of screen 1 there was a long walkway to your left, which led to the men’s toilets I believe. It was quite a clever design though, because it allowed you to look down on all the seats in order to find a vacant one, instead of having to stand in front of 200 people with a gormless head on ya, like you have to do in today’s cinemas.
One of the screens had a huge landfill in front of it. This is a memory that is indeed sketchy but I’m convinced of it, despite never hearing anybody else talking about it. There was a ledge, and a big drop, which was obviously filled with old popcorn cartons etc. Absolutely legendary. Before each film started we were treated to a load of blobs floating across the screen. Anyone else remember this? It was probably some by-product of the traditional projectors but it was extremely trippy, and very much part of the Regina experience.
It’s such a pity that the building, in such a lucrative part of the city, is currently sitting idle. I guarantee you that if a cinema or theatre opened in there today, it would do brilliantly simply based on the power of people’s nostalgia alone! I