Do you remember the time when Farnham had two full-sized cinemas? This archive photograph dates from September 1955 when the town could boast the Regal and the County, both in East Street. The County was located in what is now Cambridge Place and while it looked quite grand when viewed down the forecourt from the East Street pavement, was in fact a little more basic when you actually got into the auditorium.

However, the Regal, where this photograph was taken, was an altogether more professional operation. The photograph shows cadets from the town’s Army Cadet Force arriving for a special viewing of the The Private War of Major Benson starring Charlton Heston and Julie Adams. 

It was, according to Wikipedia, a comedy “about a tough-talking US Army officer who must shape up the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programme at Sheridan Academy, a Catholic boys’ military academy, or be forced out of the Army.”

I wonder why the cadet officers chose to take their unit along? Was the Farnham unit under threat, perhaps? Unfortunately, until the project to digitise the Herald Archive gets into its swing, it’s very difficult to access the story that went with this photograph.

Sadly, today Farnham no longer has a full-time cinema until the much-vaunted six-screen Reel offering in the Brightwells Yard development finally opens its doors. However, it does have the Maltings which shows a recently-released feature film most Wednesdays with up to three screenings, some of them subtitled. It is very often fully booked and patrons need to act swiftly to ensure a place when the new season is announced.

Changing the Great Hall to a full-sized cinema every week involves the staff putting out the raked seating and erecting the large screen and they should be applauded for this regular task which has kept cinema alive in the town. 

Let’s hope Film Maltings continues to please audiences for many years once Reel finally goes on view!

The Herald Digital Archive Project is on the lookout for willing volunteers to fill two new roles on its steering group; one to drive fundraising for the project and another to help with community engagement. To find out more, please email [email protected]