'What else do you remember about
'You had to put your clothes on your lap and if it had been
raining it meant that your skirt would get wet and you had to sit
through the film show soaking wet. One of my boyfriends was really sweet
the one night because he sat with my wet things and his wet things on
his lap to save me getting wet. It was probably just to impress me.
Anyway, it worked because I married him.'
'We used to put our coats on the seat by the side or over the seat in
front. That was OK as long as nobody sat in those seats.'
'There was always a smell of popcorn in the cinema then. Not the sort
of popcorn you get nowadays, it was the Butterkist sort. Mind you
another familiar smell of the cinema was wet clothes drying out. That
was only when it had been raining of course.'
'I remember climbing up all those stairs to go and sit
in the balcony of the pictures and it seemed so high. It seemed then
that there were hundreds but if I think about it now there was probably
only about thirty, if that. It's funny how different things seem when
you are much younger.'
'The first time my dad took me upstairs in the cinema I cried my eyes
out because I was so frightened. It was years before I went upstairs
again and it wasn't with my dad.'
'I used to always sit downstairs and look at the balcony
above me. I often used to think what would happen if it fell down. That
was probably the main reason I never sat directly under it. It seems
'I was told by my mom
that it was dangerous to go upstairs in case there was an accident. She
said they would never be able to get you out in time. My dad told her
not to be silly because if the balcony fell down it would be those
underneath who would be killed more than those sitting in the balcony.
Luckily, none of us ever found out.'
'The cinema was the one place where you could go and lose yourself.
You could hide in the dark and be transported to whenever or wherever
you liked. It was great. The place was our own treasure island.'
'How popular was the
Each of the individuals who was interviewed was asked to express
their opinions about the popularity of the cinema in those
earlier days. Here are some of those opinions:
'Most nights of the week you had difficulty getting into some of
those cinemas because they were so full. I don't mean the more popular
cinemas either, I mean any of the cinemas in town. Remember for most of
my generation it was our only real form of entertainment. We didn't go
to the pub. There were no clubs, very few dances so it was the cinema or
not a lot more'
'Because it was so popular with my generation and because there were
so many flicks to choose from, I can remember going more than once a
week. In fact, it was more normal to go twice or three times a week than
just once. That's as long as you had the money of course.'
'There were always queues outside the picture house. It didn't used
to depend on the film either, it was the going to the cinema that was
important. Most of the people in the queue would be young. I mean in
their teens or twenties, often courting couples. They would stand there
for hours if needs be. I stood outside some of those picture houses as
long as three hours just to see a film which now I probably wouldn't
even watch on the television. It was the thought of going to the
pictures which was so important.'
'I've sat through the same film programme twice, many times. It was
so exciting being in the pictures. It sounds daft now, I suppose.'
'We would always go to the cinema, never to the pub. The cinemas were
always full of younger people, the pubs were for the old folk.'
'You know I've been in a queue for two hours in the pouring
rain and still not got into the film. The trouble was by that time it
was too late to get a seat in one of the other cinemas.'
'I used to wonder where did all the people come from who
went to the pictures every night because the cinemas were always full.'
'Many's the time that I've stood up at the back of the cinema waiting
for a spare seat and there hasn't been one so I've had to watch both
films standing up.'
'We used to go to the cinema almost every night. It was our only form
of entertainment. Remember, there was no television. You don't believe
me do you about every night? It's the truth. We also went twice on a
'I had no real preference for the cinema I went to as
long as I hadn't seen the film. We would go maybe three times a week.'
'I can remember being in a queue which must have
stretched something like two hundred yards. That was for a film which I
can't even remember now but the length of the queue was fairly common
because the cinema was so popular amongst us younguns.'
'My mom told me that in her days, the twenties I mean, the queues
were even longer than when I used to go regularly in the forties. She
told me about people standing outside one of the town's earliest cinemas
for as long as six hours, just to see a silent film. It seems incredible
now doesn't it?'
'With so many cinemas and so many people going to the cinemas, the
town would be buzzing at night. There'd be people about everywhere and
the main reason was the cinema.'
'I could never understand how there could be so
many cinemas close by and all of them be full at the same time. The
pictures must've been incredibly popular for so many people to go so
'The forties was the time I remember best and I remember the cinemas
always being full, even in wartime.'
'We used to often stand in the doorway of the
cinema and wait for an adult to come along and we'd ask them to take us
in to see the film because it was probably thought to be too old for us.
There were always loads of adults to choose from and we nearly always
got one to agree.'
'We used to walk home after the last film in a gang. Most of us had
seen our girlfriends on to the last bus. There was always loads of
blokes walking home from the pictures. You knew they'd been to the
cinema because we would talk about the films and decide which one to go
to the next time, which usually meant one of the next two or three
'If you caught the last bus, there was always talk
about the films and the cinemas. People used to sing the songs from the
film or act out the scenes on the bus. It was funny how many of the
passengers had seen the same films sometime in the week and there used
to be arguments about what really happened.'
'If ever you went to the last
show which was quite normal, you had to make sure you got your girl on
to the last bus, otherwise you copped it from her mom or dad. That
happened to me loads of times.'
It wasn't just the cinemas in the centre which were full in those
days, so were the local picture houses.'
'Even if you weren't going to the pictures, it
was impossible not to notice how many people were waiting outside most
of the cinemas for the film to start. I can remember seeing queues
outside most of the town centre cinemas at some time or other and
outside most of the neighbourhood cinemas as well.'
'We used to turn to the page in the Star or the
Chronicle which advertised the films and make our choices at the
beginning of the week. This usually meant that we were going to the
cinema about twice or three times in the next few days.'
'When I was a girl in the thirties, it was almost impossible to get
into some of those cinemas. They were so full.'
'It was a tradition in the war to go to the cinema. I think it was
mainly because it was the one way to find out what was going on
'We queued for many of the films in the war at most of the town
cinemas. I think it was one way of feeling together. Most of the people
in the queue of course were female or kids.'
'I think the pictures was more popular in the war than at any other
time because it was one way of finding out about the war and actually
seeing some of the fighting. It was better in a way than the radio.'
'I'd queue for as long as necessary if it meant
getting in and seeing the news during the war, let alone the film.'
'The cinema was just like your own private news broadcast in the war.
Well, private if you disregarded the hundreds of others in the cinema
who probably felt the same way.'
'If anyone asked me my most popular pursuit in my teens, then it
would be the cinema. I bet that would be the answer from loads of people
of my age, about seventy.'
'I can't remember anything that was more popular
amongst us in the thirties than the pictures. We'd be up town most
nights waiting outside one of the picture houses and it seldom mattered
what was on.'
'To my generation the pictures was the absolute. We didn't need
drink, drugs or music, it was the film and the cinemas which gave us all