Once the films arrived, usually Monday or Tuesday, you'd go down to the cinema, and you had to take the films out of the transport cans and put them onto the spools, the projection spools, and what you were doing was to check them over to make sure that they were alright. Because the distributor would send a running sheet down with the films telling you that they'd checked them and they were all satisfactory... but you never took their word for it.The projectors in the photograph were 'carbon arc' projectors, which meant that instead of having a bulb in them to generator light as more modern projectors do, they actually burnt carbon inside them which gave off a bright light. This is one of the reasons that projection was such a dangerous occupation - that, and the very flammable nitrate film that was used, which has been known to spontaneously combust from only the friction of moving through the projector!
- David Griffiths
Tom Dallow tells us a little about the carbon arc projectors that he worked with at the Regal;
The thing with carbons... if you let them burn too far apart, they'd go out. But if they burn too close together, the picture would go brown! So, then there used to be some fun and games if you hadn't put enough carbon in there because you'd got to get your hands in the archouse, open it up, tap them up a little bit more with something so that it'd last... they've been out many a night.
- Tom Dallow
We hope you've enjoyed this brief journey into the projection room of years gone by! We'll share some more memories of the Regal over the summer. If you've got any photographs of the Regal that we could feature here, please do let us know!