Still hopes for Regent to rise from ashes

regent cinema fire
The Regent Cinema auditorium was completely destroyed by fire in March 2016 and later demolished

THIS week marked three years since the Regent Cinema in Lyme Regis burnt down.

I remember the day clearly – I had just finished that week’s issue of the View From Lyme Regis. It was a bright, sunny day so the blinds were drawn in the office and it wasn’t until we received a call from town councillor Derek Hallett, asking “have you seen the fire?” that we pulled them up and saw the huge plumes of black smoke above the town.

I dropped the phone and dashed out of the door with Dad. We were the first press on the scene and later had to return to the office to change half the paper before it was sent to print.

I had never covered such a big fire, and definitely not one which engulfed such a beloved public building. Residents cried in the street as they watched the flames take hold and gasped with horror as the roof collapsed. A sad day for Lyme.

For the latest update on the planned rebuild of the cinema click here, and we also share some of our readers’ favourite memories of the Regent in this week’s printed issue of LymeOnline.

But while we wait in hope for it to rise from the ashes, we mustn’t forget how lucky Lyme is to still have its own theatre.

Last week I attended this season’s programme launch at the Marine, with a huge variety of music, theatre, live screenings, comedy and even some cinema planned over the coming months.

The theatre will also be celebrating its 125th anniversary with a special review show and parade through the town in June, as well as a family magic show and screening of the 1949 classic ‘All Over The Town’, which was filmed in Lyme. The story follows a local reporter who upsets the town council (sounds a bit familiar to me) and the name was the inspiration for this blog!

The Marine Theatre is not the only local organisation celebrating at the moment. Twenty five groups went home from Wednesday night’s town council meeting with a combined total of more than £42,000 in grants.

In years gone by, the annual grants meeting has been one I dreaded – a long, drawn-out process with councillors fighting over their favourite organisations. One year the meeting went on so long I saw the milk man out delivering on my way home!

So I entered the Guildhall with a little trepidation on Wednesday evening, but it turns out I had no reason to worry. The council breezed through the applications within an hour – a record time I’m sure. All but two applicants went home with something in their pockets and there were no arguments (long may that continue!).

Some of the biggest beneficiaries of the night were Lyme’s water sports organisations, which won high praise from the councillors for being a great asset to the town and providing opportunities for young people.

I have to admit, it’s great to see the bay looking so busy during the summer – gigs skimming across the water, sail boats in the distance, paddleboarders making it look much easier than it is!

Sometimes I wish I had made more out of living by the sea while growing up. I spent every spare minute on the beach but not so much in the water… perhaps it’s not too late to start!

Woodmead Halls
About Francesca Evans 2046 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

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