One of Blackpool’s most historic former cinemas is being brought back from dereliction – despite repeated break-in attempts by criminals.
The Regent, on Church Street, is being brought back into use by its owner Richard Taylor and is set to open this spring as a gifts emporium.
But Mr Taylor said he has been battling the ravages of the weather and years of neglect as well as repeated damage by people trying to break in to the empty building.
He added: “It’s unbelievable really. We are trying to do something here which could benefit Blackpool but these people have been repeatedly trying to break in. I don’t understand it. There is nothing inside to take, not even the electrics yet. When they are in I will be putting in a serious alarm system.
“Last night they tried to get in through the roof and have pulled tiles off. It’s a bit disheartening, everyone could benefit from The Regent, there would be jobs and an attraction for this part of town.”
Despite the setbacks, he said work is progressing well inside and the ground floor will be open by Easter with a wide range of stallholders selling goods from collectibles, antiques, books, wools and buttons to vintage clothing.
Upstairs will be renovated later as a multi-use arts space.
He said: “It is a wonderful building with some great features. When we do open I think it will fly. There is a big car park just across the road and we will be getting the new Sainsburys so people can do their shopping then come and have a rummage.
“This could be an up-and-coming area with the Talbot Gateway project and it will be great to get one of Blackpool’s landmarks back in use. There’s room for about 30 stalls and half have gone.
“If anyone is interested contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a good place to start a business as it will be manned so stall holders needn’t be there to attend their stalls, only to re-stock.”
The building was built in 1921, and operated as a cinema until 1969 when it became a bingo hall before being run as Riley’s snooker hall until 2010.