A Fabulous Large c.1930 Cinema Lobby Sun Ceiling Light; The Regal Cinema, London


Origin: English
Period: Art Deco
Provenance: The Regal Cinema, West Norwood, London, UK
Date: c.1925-35
Diameter: 31.5 inches
Height: 11 inches

The large and weighty patinated gilt metal ceiling light shaped as the sun, in the art deco taste, having a circular gilt metal frame with scrollwork and yellow glass panels, the whole unsigned, manufactured for the lobby of the Regal Cinema, West Norwood in the late 1920s.

The light is in very original condition and does not suffer from losses, cracks, damage or restoration, though could of course be cleaned if so desired. There is one tiny triangle of glass that has come free, around 3cms long, but it is supplied with the fitting so could be readded. The fitting has nine bulb sockets on a plate that is separate to the main body and both this plate and the main fitting are designed to be drilled in directly to the ceiling so there are drilled holes for this purpose. The triangular glass inset panels to the underside of the light are drop in and therefore can be removed. The light could easily be adapted to modern standards and lit once more and although we have not adapted it to modern standards ourselves this wouldn’t be a difficult job. We are lucky enough to have a photograph of the lights in situ in the Regal, emitting light beautifully, amongst the palms.

Cinema arrived in England in around 1895 and reached almost every corner of the globe by the end of 1896. The heyday for the cinema was during the 1930s, when this light would have been made, and when up to half the population visited the cinema twice a week. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, cinemas closed, like the Regal, only to reopen two weeks later and to continue operating throughout the war, offering customers an escape from daily reality.

The Regal Cinema in West Norwood in Lambeth, London was built for A.E. Abrahams in the late 1920s by architect F. Edward Jones and it officially opened on 16th January 1930. Jones was also responsible for the original cinema at Madame Tussaud's waxwork museum on Marylebone Road. Its decorations were in the Art Deco style of the period and It was leased by Hyams & Gale from 24th April 1933 and taken over by Gaumont Super Cinemas in October 1935. It was equipped with a Christie 3Manual theatre organ.

The Regal was then closed due to wartime conditions at the beginning of the war and it re-opened on 3rd November 1940. The closing programme on 8th February 1964 was the Peter Sellers double bill;“I’m Alright Jack” plus “Two Way Stretch”. It immediately became a Top Rank Bingo Club, which opened on 20th February 1964, and it closed in 1978. The site is now home to a B&Q store.

A highly desirable piece of original art deco inspired cinema history hailing from the tumultuous glory days of cinema and a wonderfully original lighting fixture for today’s dramatic interior.