The lost Surrey cinemas where you probably had your first date

In the days before Netflix and Amazon Prime even small towns could boast of a cinema.

Most were built during the cinema boom of the 1930s after the rise of Hollywood in the 1920s. However, in recent years many have closed or have been replaced with larger multi-screen buildings.

Here are a few of Surrey’s cinemas from years gone by, in addition to one in Aldershot, Hampshire.

READ MORE: 9 of Surrey’s ‘old favourites’ that no longer exist

The Odeon, Guildford

Before the new Odeon was built by the river in 1996 there was the art deco style Odeon building on Epsom Road near Guildford’s upper High Street. Opened in 1935, the original building was demolished to make way for the Trinity Gate building in 2002.

Unlike the nine-screen cinema, Guildford has today, the original Odeon only had one screen but had two more added in 1973 and another in 1989. It seemed more like a theatre than a modern-day cinema, with proper intervals as well as stalls and circle seating before extra screens were added.

In 1963 The Beatles even played a concert here and the staff reportedly had to play the national anthem over the speakers to make the audience finally leave.

Regal Cinema, Cranleigh

In recent years Cranleigh has been cinema-less, but from 1936 to 2002 The Regal was open on The Common.

The small cinema had only one floor and a stage and originally seated an audience of 466 people.

However, this was later reduced to 266 seats.

Like many cinemas of its time, the Regal was decorated in an art deco style and had decorative gills lining its walls.

The last film it showed was Gosford Park on March 14, 2002.

Robins cinema, Camberley

The inside of the derelict Robins Cinema in London Road, Camberley, May, 2012. Taken by an 'urban explorer
The inside of the derelict Robins Cinema in London Road, Camberley
(Image: Aldershot Titles / Urban Explorer)

Opened in 1932 and closed in 2003, the Robins cinema building was later demolished in 2013.

Over the years it was renamed the Regal Cinema, the Odeon, the Classic Cinema and the Cannon Cinema.

The café located underneath the cinema eventually become Sovereign Snooker club, which closed three years after Robins in 2006.

The Robins cinema was known for its velvet furnishings and cramped seating. One frequent visitor wrote online that it was known locally as the flea pit. They said: “You either loved or hated it – you would either go out of your way to go to it or go out of your way to go to another cinema.”

Rembrant Cinema, Ewell

Unlike most modern-day cinemas, the Rembrant in Ewell was unusually located in a residential area.

The large cinema which opened in 1938 seated 1,462 people and originally had a restaurant on-site.

Throughout the years it was also known as The ABC, Cannon and MGM before closing as The ABC in 1998. The building was then demolished to make way for houses in 1999.

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Empire Theatre and The Ritz, Aldershot (Hampshire)

In the 1930s Aldershot became a cinema hub with five public and two army cinemas.

However, they have all since been replaced by the Cineworld in Westgate Retail Park.

Aldershot has been home to three Odeon cinemas. The Empire Theatre, which opened in 1930 on Aldershot High Street became an Odeon in 1964. Its grand interior seated 1,599 and boasted a Compton organ and a large stage.

The Ritz opened in 1937 and was renamed the ABC later that year. By the 1970s it had three screens and was renamed The Canon before it was also taken over by Odeon in 2002. However, it closed only a year later.

The Odeon cinema previously known as The Empire closed in 1984 when it was taken over by a church group. It has since reopened and renamed Empire Aldershot as a banquet and events hall.

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