William Thompson

Williams Thompson Solicitors

One of the most successful businesses in the centre of Christchurch is not even a “for profit” business. It is a charity run with the support of 200 unpaid volunteers.

The Regent Centre was built as a cinema 85 years ago in 1931 at the start of Hollywood’s Golden Age. But as cinema audiences declined, so did the Regent Centre. For a period it was a Bingo Hall and when that failed the doors were closed in 1973 and the property lay empty.

Fortunately the Council purchased the building and with its support and that of volunteers investing many hours of unpaid work, the centre was reopened ten years later in 1983 by actress Dora Bryan.

After years of hard work, by volunteers and a small team of paid professionals, the Centre is now an immensely successful enterprise. It boasts an enviable and varied programme of cinema, live professional shows, music acts and dhigh-standar amateur theatre productions.

It’s at the forefront of satellite relays from a variety of live production- so much so that there’s every chance that this year it will win the prize as the theatre which has sold the highest number of tickets for satellite broadcast from the National Theatre in the whole country.

Every year the number of “sell out” show increases and its policy of putting 50p from every ticket into a development fund means that it is able to improve its premises methodically. Last year the toilet facilities improved (importantly increasing the number of ladies looks as well!).

Last year turnover reached £1 million for the first, meaning that it’s now self-funding business (with some help form its well-intentioned Council landlord).

What a great success to have in the heart of Christchurch- and a warm thank you to all the volunteers that make it possible. If you are not already a regular customer, do give it a try.

Peter Watson-Lee

 

Christchurch Chamber of Trade and Commerce

www.williamsthompson.co.uk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 01202 484242

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