'The foyers of most of the cinemas were really plush, rather like the
foyers of the theatres nowadays. They had velvet curtains, wide
stairways, even chandeliers in some of them.'
'They were just like palaces when you went inside, all bright and
shining and so sumptuous. In fact, I used to be scared of making a mess
with my dirty shoes in some of those cinemas. You don't get that sort of
feeling any longer.'
'The sheer size of some cinemas took your breath away, especially if
you were sitting upstairs.'
'Whoever the architects were they must have known their jobs because
those buildings were definitely some of the most impressive in the
'The curtains across the screen were enormous and usually made of
velvet, or at least they looked like velvet.'
'I think some of the cinemas were almost like churches. They were
huge inside and the walls were incredibly decorated. The staircases were
enormous, or at least they seemed enormous.'
It wasn't just inside that was impressive, some of those cinemas had
really outstanding outsides as well. There must have been a lot of money
in the film industry then to build such places.'
'Not all of the cinemas were huge but even the smaller cinemas had
pretty impressive surroundings with nice decor and upholstery.'
'I think some people went to the cinema just to get a feel of luxury
and not just for the film. It was after all, the only place that most of
us could get anything like luxury or comfort. I remember going to one of
the smaller cinemas and feeling that I was someone important, even
though there were hundreds of other people inside the auditorium. It
must have had something to do with the general decor of the place. I
haven't had that sort of feeling for years, simply because there aren't
those sorts of buildings about any more'.
'When you first went inside, it was wonderful. The luxury,
the splendour. It made you feel really good.'
'There were parts of the cinema where you never sat if possible. The
very front rows of the stalls was one of those places. The seats were
the same as anywhere else in the cinema but the screen was right on top
of you and you got the most awful neck ache from looking straight up.'
'Many's the time I've come out with my neck stuck because I had sat
too near the front of the cinema.'
'The first time I went to the cinema, there weren't any posh seats
where I sat, only wooden benches. It must have been about 1926.'
'I used to love being at the front because the screen was so big and
you almost felt like you were in the film yourself.'
'The seats were quite comfortable but they would often go up and I
used to get my feet stuck down the back of them. The other thing I can
remember happening more than once was sitting on a seat where someone
had dropped chewing gum and getting it stuck to my trousers.'
'Some of the best seats were upstairs and because you were upstairs
you got the best view as well. Needless to say, you only went upstairs
if you were with your mom and dad or if you were courting and he paid.'
'Some of the seats in those smaller cinemas were rock hard and didn't
do your backside a lot of good. But because they were cheaper, well,
beggars can't be choosers.'
'I think the seats were rather like little tubs and they would often
tip up and could be a real nuisance.'
'If you were sat behind one of those women with a bouffant hairdo,
you could hardly see a thing. Mind you at times that was probably a
blessing in disguise.'
'You could go into the cinema at any time during the programme. This
meant that you would usually arrive mid way through one of the films. It
was really dark when you went inside the auditorium and it wasn't always
easy to find a seat, so you needed help.'
'We'd often go into the cinema half way through and watch it to that
point second time around and then leave. This meant I knew many endings
of films better than I knew the beginnings. This spoils it if ever I see
some of the old films on telly these days.'
'I can remember going into the film while it was on and using the
light from the big screen as the way of finding a seat.'
'It was hell if you went to the toilet during the film because you
could never see your way back and the place was so big you easily got
disorientated and lost. I used to ask whoever I was with to wave a
hankie or their hand to attract my attention but that still didn't help
if the film was quite dark as well.'
'Going to the loo in the dark was a real bind because you could never
find your way back to the seat. I've waited at the back until the
interval before now. That's alright if the interval is due, not if it's
'We used to try ad judge when the interval would be coming before we
went into the cinema but we were always wrong, so we had to go in when
it was still dark inside.'
'It always seemed darker in the cinema then than now. It was really
difficult to get used to the light when you came out.'
'That beam of light from the projection room was one of the most
visible memories of the cinema that I've got. There was always smoke
drifting up through it as well. One time I remember some clever beggar
put his hands into the beam so that it appeared on the screen.'
'Of course you could smoke in the cinema then and so there'd always
be smoke wafting about. You could see it in the light from the
projector. I never smoked but many people did and it was a real nuisance
having smoke all around the place.'
'It was the done thing amongst us to smoke in the cinema because it
was dark and you could get away with it. We all used to put our fags out
when the interval came or when it was time to go out. It seems funny now
because we were all about eighteen at the time but we were worried that
our parents would find out. I think some of us went to the cinema just
to smoke, not to watch the film.'
'One of the worst things about the cinema then was how dark
it was. You could see the exit signs and the toilet signs but you could
hardly see anything else. When I go now I think it isn't so dark and you
can see many of the people sitting in the cinema. Maybe that's just my
'One of the best things about the cinema was being in the dark
especially if you were courting. You could sit on the back row of the
stalls or upstairs and just be together.'
'We did most of our courting inside the cinemas in town. It was dark
and it was private. Perfect for a courting couple.'
'Much of my courting went on at the pictures. It was the one place
where you could go and be with your chap in the dark. Mind you, very
little went on because there were too many people about. It was just
nice to sit holding hands.'
'When I went on a date to the cinema, I remember I never used to take
my glasses because I didn't want to put the chap off. That meant I
couldn't see the film usually and worse still I couldn't find my way
around in the dark. So I never went to the toilet, even though I often
wanted to go. I remember times when I think watching the film would have
been preferable than being with the chap. I don't know though!'