By Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association President John Ashbridge
ABC Cine-Bowl 162 Broadway Bexleyheath Kent
The ABC cinema was built as The Regal Cinema in 1934 and operated by the Birmingham cinema operator, Mortimer Dent. It opened on 3rd September but within a short time was operated by Sidney Bacon Pictures. At the time the cinema was described as a ‘Super Cinema’ and was equipped with a Compton Manual/8Ranks organ. During 1935 the Regal Cinema was taken over by Union Cinemas and operated until a further take over occurred in October 1937 when the Regal was acquired by Associated British Cinemas (ABC).
During 1943 the cinema received a direct hit by a German bomb which damaged the organ chambers and, although the damaged was patched up, the organ never operated again. During the following 20 years the cinema operated successfully but was renamed the ABC from 29th January 1962. Following this, a 26 lane AMF equipped tenpin bowling centre, ABC’s 10th centre, was built over the cinema car park.
The bowling lanes were located on two floors and the centre opened to the public on 11th April 1963. The official opening was on the evening of the 10th April when, to the roll of drums, bowlers from Leytonstone rolled the first bowling balls down the lanes. The centre operated very successfully for many years and hosted a number of leagues plus national and local tournaments, one of which was the ‘Coach and Four’ tournament with teams made up of four YBC members plus a YBC coach.
In January 1978 the cinema was closed for conversion into a four-screen operation which reopened on 28th May 1978. In 1982 the cinema was renamed Cannon when the Cannon Group took control of ABC. It’s believed that the bowling centre closed on 31st January 1987 with the cinema closure being on 19th March 1987. The site was demolished in May 1987 and a supermarket built on the site and it is now an Asda store.