Alas, three palaces of dreams have gone……..

Osnaburgh 4


Behind this hoarding is an empty site, which is all that remains of the Regal Cinema which was opened in August 1932.  Next to it (and just behind me and to the left) was another seller of dreams – the original store of R P Over, once described as ‘Camberley’s Economic Shopping Centre’, which is now a housing estate.  On the other side of Over’s store was the Volunteer (which seems to date from 1865, slightly later than the Fox and Hounds mentioned yesterday).   This hostelry had rooms but could only supply beer (enough to supply dreams, I suppose?)  The drink originally came from Wokingham, then Staines and finally Simonds of Reading, who supplied the RMA and much of Camberley.  Like the Fox and Hounds it closed in the 1920s. I am guessing that changes in the licensing laws caused this – can anyone provide some information?

I am not sure exactly who was behind the building of Camberley’s 4th cinema – there is considerable detail in Graham Barson’s book (Camberley & Yorktown between the wars) and he says that Mrs May was the wife of the chairman of Regal Ltd.  Another source says that Ray Fairs, George Doman’s son-in-law (owner of the Arcade Cinema) was also involved in this one.

The site originally housed Osnaburgh House, which may have included materials ‘surplus to requirements’ when Thomas Longman was building the original Farnborough Hill in 1860 (see this article on him – rather long !

The house had had a lot of military tenants, as you would expect, including Colonel Bethel Martin Dawes who lost two of his children during an outbreak of diphtheria in 1886.  At the time, the Hill’s dairy farm was implicated as the source, although it was never proved.  His granddaughter, Daisy, went on to write ‘Old Frimley’ in 1978.

Richard Parnell Over had opened his drapery business in 1857 and it was originally a single-fronted affair which had, co-incidentally, been built by his father in law (George Edwards) in 1850.  His four sons also became drapers but eventually only two remained in the business and a new, furniture store was built nearer The Avenue (more of this anon).  According to Gordon Wellard (see the business started in Eversley in the early 19th century.  Can anyone confirm this?





11 thoughts on “Alas, three palaces of dreams have gone……..

  1. Where were the other 3 cinemas? I have seen old pictures of the High Street with “Electric Theatre” (or similar) from 1910 or so and I vaguely, vaguely remember an old cinema opposite the war memorial/RMA entrance but think it was already closed in the 1960s.

  2. The electric cinema was in the High Street, you are right – now the TSB. The Arcade cinema was the one just opposite the RMA gates and the Academy (the first) was on the corner Victoria Road/London Road in Yorktown.

  3. I have just left a comment on A Wellard, historian site. I have just read that you write of a Mr Over in mid nineteenth century opening a drapery store.. He had 2 sons who continued in the business. My mother, born Pauline Bessell,told me that her father, James Bessell, father/grandfather? Ran a successful department store with his twin brother in Camberley… I would love to have more information. Many thanks Elona Bennett

    • Thank you for this comment Elona. I don’t know of the Wellard history site, could you tell me what it’s called? (Just in case I’m missing something!). You also left a comment on my Camberley history site and I have replied in some detail there……

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