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For many years a Mr William Mulvey was the manager.He became manager in 1915. Before Edgar Patchett a piano was played by Bobby Williams.
In 1921 the Orchestra under the leadership of Edgar Patchett was placed in a sunken platform at the foot of the screen. The screen had a gilt moulded surround. Projection at that time was provided by two Kalee Indomitable projectors with large diameter Dallmayer lenses.
The first Sunday screening was ‘East Side of Heaven’ on 3rd November 1940.
The first Sunday showing at the Tatler/Classic was ‘Q Planes’ on 3rd November 1940.
The first Sunday show at the ABC Regal was ‘Spy In Black’ and ‘No Time To Marry’ on 3rd November 1940.
The first Sunday show at the Gaumont was ‘These Glamour Girls’ and ‘Within The Law’ screened on 3rd November 1940.
Manager for many years was a Mr Tom Barnes, who had also worked at the Abbey Wavertree. Manager at the time of closing was a Mr Sam Bennett.
Vincent Dunning, who worked at the Gaumont and the Music Hall in the 1940s tells me that the news at the the Gaumont was shared with the Majestic and the news at the Odeon was shared with the Music Hall.
Glady’s Coventry, who became Glady’s Barnes started work at the Gaumont restaurant in 1941 aged seventeen. Her weekly wage was seventeen shillings and sixpence, eighty seven and a half pence. The restaurant was open from 10am – 9pm, later closing at 8pm. A three couse meal could be had for one shilling and sixpence (seven and a half pence). When the price was put up to two shillings people complained, so a small coffee was added. Glady’s was in the restaurant cash desk for thirteen years and eventually became assistant manageress. A Mrs Sumpter and a Mrs Pincher’s carried out the cooking. Unlike today, tea, which was silver service, would be served to the cinema patrons. “Sugar was in cubes, not the packet type you get today.” said Glady’s. As for the food. Glady’s recalls the delicious cream cakes that were on offer. Glady’s served tea to several stars that performed at the theatre, including Adam Faith, Billy Fury and Cliff Richard, who sang to her. A Mr Bill Clarke was the last chef
Before Orcon xenons were employed the light source was provided by the Peeless Magnarc carbon arc.
Projectors were Ross with RCA sound. Light was provided by Peerless Magnarc. Later Philips FP20s were used.
At the top of the building was a red neon sign spelling GRAND. Back in the 1940s, the cinema staged occasional live amateur shows. The screen was pushed back for these. A Mr Tom Fyall, who was the manager had his own dance troupe called Tom Fyall’s Dainty Dots. Other entertainers included the Josy Taylor accordian band from Wales, comedian Archie Warren and singer Lorna Plummer. The hall was coloured red and gold. The curtains (tabs) were red with a gold fringe. Seating was red tip-up. The last manager was a Mr James Turner, who was known locally as Jimmy Pictures.
Frodsham Cinema Company Ltd first owned the Grand. By the early 1940s it was run by Byrom Picture Houses Ltd based at 51a Rodney Street, Liverpool. A Mr Philip M. Hamner, who also booked the films ran this.
In the summer, entrance doors to the auditorium would be left open and a curtain would be pulled across to block out light. Some seats at the rear of the auditorium were reserved for staff only.
Some of my above comments are in my article that was written for Steve Howe’s website based in Chester at http://www.bwpics.co.uk/gallery/cinema6.html However the above also contains information that is not on the above website.
I have written with Steve Howe the history of Chester cinemas under the name of David A Ellis, which can be found on the web.
The projection box was equipped with Kalee 21 equipment with Gaumont Kalee President carbon arcs. For many years one of the projectionists was a Desmond McGreal, known as Des. When the Gaumont closed he moved over to the Odeon. Sadly Des is no longer with us.
For many years the chief projectionist at Woolton was Dave Swindell, who is sadly no longer with us. He passed away shortly after his retirement.The cinema was run for many years by Cheshire County Cinemas before being taken over by David Woods, who was the grandson of the founder of Bedford Cinemas (1928) Ltd.They ran several cinemas including the Mayfair, Aigburth and the Abbey, Wavertree. Projection equipment at the Woolton is Westar. There are two machines with a tower system and 2000 ft spools can still be run in the old way. Light source is now xenon. Two converted Peerless carbon arcs provide this. Entrance to the box is from outside the building. I was in the box some time back and took several photos of it.
Projection equipment at the Regal was Westar with Orcon xenons. Sound was Western Electric. For many years Peerless arcs provided the light.At the time of closing towers were in use and there were still two projectors in the main box.The Regal was part of Cheshire County Cinemas, run by the Godfrey family. For many years the head office of this small chain was based at the Empress Runcorn, which closed in 1973 and was demolished to allow for road improvements.
I remember going to the Continentale back in 1963, when on holiday with my late father. We went to see a double horror show. I remember the tabs were very noisy when they opened and closed. Several years later I visited the box. If I remember correctly they had Kalee 12s, but I can’t be sure. Is there anyone who knows for sure?
Several years ago I went into the projection box of the Cinescene. They were using Kalee 21 projectors with President arcs. A Duosonic sound system was also employed.
In 1963 I went on holiday to Brighton with my father. We went to a number of cinemas including the Astoria, which was showing Mutiny on the Bounty in 70mm. The sound from the six tracks was fantastic and was as good, in my opinion as any modern sound system such as Dolby stereo or DTS.Projecting the 70mm images was the popular Philips DP70s. Before 70mm, Kalee elevens put the pictures on the screen. One of the projectionists was a Mr Ted Jempson, who sadly is no longer with us.The picture and sound at the Astora certainly made an impression on me.
Projection is provided by seven cinemeccanica projectors housed in a long corridor. Non- rewind systems are in use for all the screens. Chief projectionist is Peter Davies, who started his career at the ABC, Chester in 1962.
The Futurist Liverpool was originally equipped with Kalee projection equipment and Ashcraft carbon arcs. Later, when the little cinema started to show 70mm films with the fantastic six track magnetic sound, it was Philips DP70 machines doing the business. Most DP70 set-ups had the Mole Richardson carbon arc delivering the illumination. Because the Futurist was a small hall, Peerless Magnarc was used instead. For many years the chief projectionist was a Mr Eric Norgate, he was there at the time of closure. He retired several years ago, his last cinema being the six screen multiplex in Chester. I remember going to the Futurist on numerous occasions to watch such films as Paint Your Wagon, The Great Race and Ryan’s Daughter.The once respendant cinema now looks in a very sorry state.
Regarding the above comment, it should read The downstairs cinemas, which had been two and three, not one and two as stated above.
The first person to manage the Odeon, Chester was a Mr Harry Yorke, who had previously worked in Brighton. The opening was a grand affair with film star Douglas Fairbanks Junior in attendance.The cinema continued as a single screen until 1976.That year two more screens were added, built in the stalls area. A new projection box was built in the front stalls area to provide projection to the three screens. Number one still had two projectors with 6000ft spoolboxes.Projection from this box to the number one screen required an upward rake. Projection for screens two and three was from the side of the screens, by use of mirrors. Only one projector was used for each screen. Non-rewind systems were also in use. Odeon one used the balcony area and the original proscenium was still intact and used for Odeon one. In 1991 two more screens were installed in the building.These were created in the back circle.These new additions were called screens two and three.The downstairs cinemas,which had been one and two now became four and five.The original projection room,which had been closed when the building was converted to three screens, re-opened to provide projection to the new screens.Number one had top and side masking.The masking would open vertically, giving a large wide screen picture. For scope it would drop down and widen out.The scope, I thought wasn’t that impressive,but wide screen was great. A few months before closure a new screen was put into number one with side masking only, giving a better scope experience. Number one eventually went over to a single projector with a non-rewind system a few years back.