Cinema was one of the main sources of entertainment for people throughout most of the 20th century, and none more so than in Portadown. The first cinema or Picture House as it was called was Somersons in Bridge Street and it was opened a few years before the 1st World War. Somersons was named after the family who owned the Picture House, it had a small capacity, but it was renowned for being able to attack top films. In the early years it featured the silent films, with stars like ‘Rudolph Valentino’ being the great attraction.
The Savoy Cinema in Edward Street was known by its popular nickname ‘The Catch’. It was open from the early 1900’s. The Regal Cinema opened its doors in 1934 in Bridge Street. From its earliest years, The Regal, established a tradition of hosting a free film show for the children of the town during the Pre-Christmas Week.
Up to 1,000 school children enjoyed the 3 films shown and as each pupil entered the cinema they received gifts of money and sweets from the management. They were also entertained by The savoy Orchestra during the break. In the late 1950’s and 60’s The Regal also held host to popular film premiers each year, attended by stars including Janette Scott, Heather Sears and Noel Purcell.
The early years of ‘The Troubles’ led to a decline in attendance at the cinemas and the last 2 Portadown cinemas, The Picture House (Somersons) and The Regal had closed by 1972. The Savoy closed after an accidental fire over a decade later.