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I’ve not visited Penarth for more than fifty years. Therefore I was very interested in the photograph attached to this entry. It has given my aged memory a jolt and two things have crossed my mind.
Firstly, I can remember Alan Watts who ran the Washington telling me that the auditorium area of the Windsor had been a drill hall before his family created the cinema.
Secondly, looking at the photograph, I get the impression that the building behind the garage forecourt and front reception area may be the remains of the former cinema auditorium.
Many of the practices that would never ever be found in the up market Withers circuit were quite common in the minor welfare halls of the valleys.Many of these halls were operated by a single projectionist who was often a part time jobber who lacked the finer side of projecting.
The going rate for a sole run in 1960 was two pounds a night. One pound for a Saturday afternoon and ten shillings for a Saturday morning kids session.Thus a day’s work on a Saturday would earn the grand sum of three pounds ten shillings before tax and National Insurance.
Extra payments to jobbers were usually made for spooling up and linking up the various advertising shorts into one reel.Working on a Sunday attracted double pay with the added bonus that most valley halls had by law to close their screens by 2130 hours on those days.
Not exactly big money now but acceptable at that time. Many of the halls I worked in often fiddled the books and paid me in cash in hand at the end of a session. Apparently it was easier to pay illicit cash than to do the paperwork for a one session only employee.It also avoided the employer making a National Insurance contribution. I later learned that that these back hander payments were usually sourced from the Kia Ora or Popcorn revenues.
In 1959 the average gross salary for a chief in the Withers circuit was twelve pounds a week.The flag hall chiefs received slightly more.In many cases chiefs would not take their one statutory day off a week entitlement so that their wages could be boosted to a higher level.
I bought my own Premier Two splicer soon after I started projecting in early 1960. I could just not get on with the smaller Premier One splicers which did not include a preset cutting blade on the lower right hand clamp side. I also purchased my own can of acetate, bottles of Lion Indian ink plus a supply of pink Windolene which I took with me to every hall I worked in.If my memory serves me right my first half pint can of acetate lasted me for two years.
Also I always carried a set of glass slides pre coated with shoe cream and a nail with which to scratch messages on for the slide lanterns.Most of the messages projected were usually asking people to move cars which were blocking drives or exits from the hall car park.
Many of the third tier halls had projectors that were in a deplorable condition. Arcs were rarely cleaned and mirrors horrendously spattered. Kalee heads had their gearing house in an oil bath that circulated when the machines ran.Quite often the machines were filled up with oil on their installation and then left. There was a glass bubble at the top of the heads through which you could see the oil circulating.As long as the oil could be seen flowing, no one ever considered that an annual oil change might be a good idea.Thus eventually the oil baths would become ineffective and the gearing would grind itself away.These head failures did not worry some of the smaller circuits as there was always a supply of second hand heads available from the many halls that were closing at that time. For example a supply of spare parts for the Cardiff Globe cinema came from the nearby Canton Coliseum which had gone over to bingo.Likewise replacement heads for the Cardiff Ninian had formerly seen service at the Tivoli and then afterwards placed into the Withers spare part store.
I entered into projecting long after the use of nitrate film had been discontinued throughout the cinema industry.Thus by 1960 the risk of fire in boxes was less of a risk than it had been in the past but still existed.Even so it was not unusual to cover for a projectionist’s night off in a minor hall and find an ash tray filled with cigarette ends somewhere in the box.
Minor hall projectionists often spent long hours alone in a box waiting for the main feature change overs which were about twenty minutes apart. On one occasion I can recall being employed at a hall in South Wales, as a sole relief, for a whole week. The projectionist gave me a run through of the system and then escorted me to a wide balcony outside of the box. The balcony contained a large number of rabbit hutches which evidently provided the projectionist with some extra income.Apart from operating the box it was made clear that I was also expected to feed and clean out the rabbits.
If you look at the links provided in a previous comment by amscwl you will see that the Plaza had an external balcony that extended across the front of the main entrance. The box was located immediately behind this balcony.The door on this balcony was an entrance to the box. The nominated number one projector and the slide lantern were located to the left hand side of the box. The portholes were located above the audience at the rear of the auditorium balcony. It was a very narrow projection room which in the summer became extremely hot.Projectionists used to take it in turns to have a break from the machines and cool off on the outside balcony.
My husband has just pointed out to me that Tacurong is also part of Sultan Kudurat and that the Nonoy Cinema there is still operating.Thus entry should read “probably one of only two cinemas to have existed in the remote province of Sultan Kudurat.”
The footfall within what is now the new Gaisano Grande Mall continues to be minimal when compared with the other malls located in the city centre of Koronadal. Much to every one’s surprise Gaisano have now reopened the four screen cinema within the mall complex.
The machines at the Strand were the integrated Supers.Ok as projectors but a nightmare when one had to do quick changes from flat to scope during Pearl, Dean and Youngers/Trailer times.
Geoffjc is correct.Cowbridge road is a very long road that is split into two parts for address purposes.The Google map and picture shows Cowbridge Road East.The correct address for the former Avenue Cinema is 364-372 Cowbridge Road West,Ely,Cardiff,CF5 5BY.I looked up this address on Google and got a very good 2008 view of the building.The shutters at the front of the Blockbuster Stores are where the windows for the new Howell’s Garages Car Showrooms were inserted after the cinema closed.
I’ve referred previously to the fact that the old local nickname for the Clifton Cinema was the ‘Blue Palace’.
However, I’ve often wondered why the word ‘Palace"was used rather than the 'Blue Cinema or Blue Hall’. Last week a friend informed me that the original given name on the opening of this hall was the “Clifton Palace Cinema'.
My friend has also reported that rumours abound that there was formerly another cinema located in nearby Stacey Road.It is claimed that this hall closed soon after the opening of the Clifton.Can anyone confirm or deny this rumour?
Thank you Richard. The penny has now dropped. I can very well recall the Berlei Factory as there was a thriving trade in distributing stolen bras going on amongst the young ladies of Pontadawe at that time.
However, I never realised that the building had been a cinema. Though thinking back I can visualise the building and once went inside it and saw the layout of the sewing machines….. Yes it was the right shape to have once been a cinema.My first memory of the building was of it being the Berlei factory.
The hall’s days as a dance hall must have ended before 1940 as my father moved to Pontardawe in 1940 and he said it was a cinema at the time of his arrival. I became a cinema addict around the age of eleven (1951) and the hall had certainly closed by then.
This morning a friend sent me a photograph of the Monico taken shortly before the cinema closed. It came as quite a surprise to me.
In my days at the Monico (1960s) the entrance to the cinema was at the bull nose facing directly at the point where Tyn y Parc Road and Pantbach Road junctioned. The brown stained pay box,occupied by long serving cashier Marge, directly faced the entrance.To the right of the pay box was the sweet and kiora kiosk and again to the right of the kiosk was the entrance to the stalls. The manager’s office being at the far end of the stall’s entrance area
The picture I have received today shows the entrance having been moved to the south west of the building and obviously going through what was once the area of the manager’s office. The bull nose entrance now being replaced by a wall bearing a quad poster frame. In my day the cinema was gray concrete all over having never been painted.
The only renovation of the hall in the 1960s,as far as I can recall, was the roof being resealed and the installation of magnetic sound. I was surprised to see that so many changes had been made to the hall exterior, especially to the entrance, presumably post 1965? Were these changes a part of the hall being twinned?
Incidentally, around 1960 the then manager of the hall asked Jackson Withers if it would be possible to attach an electric motor to the masking so that it could be adjusted from the box. The answer was a firm “NO”! The miserly circuit management instead deciding that it would be cheaper to employ a rewind boy at three pounds a week who could manually under take masking adjustments from behind the screen plus do general cleaning during the day time two hour maintenance shift.
Gaisano completely stripped the inside of the former Fit Mark building which included tearing out the cinemas. The building reopened as the Gaisano Grande Mall on the 13th of December last. The former cinema and conference area now being a part of an enlarged department store. However, it seems that the new department store continues to be a complete nail as it was in Fit Mark times.Vast numbers of staff and few customers. I’ve been assured by local Gaisano managers that there are no immediate plans to include cinemas in the building.
The first of Pontardawe’s three cinemas to close was the Pavilion in Church Street. It was certainly closed in the early 1950s.
Unusually for the Swansea Valley, the Public Hall was a facility that was mainly supported by voluntary subscriptions (6d a week) deducted from the wages of workers at the nearby tin plate works and not by coal miners or the the NUM.It was the closure of the tin plate works that led to Pontardawe becoming an unemployment black spot and the Public Hall to suffer severe financial difficulties.
There is a superb image of the Lyric Cinema building on Google Earth. To view this image enter 77 Herbert Street, Pontardawe. The entrance to the former cinema was via the pillared doorway on the right.
Not all BTH projectors were difficult to use. The ones that gave jobbing projectionists the most problems were the integrated versions of the BTH Supa. I experienced these machines at a number of theatres including the Regal Chepstow, the Rex at Aberdare and at a cinema in Bideford whose name slips my memory. The earlier BTH models were quite easy to operate as Eric Evans states.I grew to hate the integrated Supa machines so much so that I very rarely undertook a repeat jobbing session at any hall where I found them installed. Changing from scope to flat was a nightmare when one had a scope screen trailer sandwiched between Pearl, Dean and Younger adverts plus a follow on wide screen presentation. The integral change over devices were notorious for failing and in many cases were never repaired.The cinema at Bideford had them wired out and change overs were achieved with a home made set of sliding black steel plates and a cross over switch for sound.
The other bit of kit that projectionists hated were the Ross Stream Light Arcs.Heavy on carbons, difficult to adjust and prone to gearing / feed problems.In the early 1960s many of the 3rd tier halls actually removed their Ross Arcs and replaced them with older Kalee Regals instead.The Regals having come from closed halls. The Castle at Caerfilli being an example. To the best of my knowledge the only South Wales circuit to stick to Ross Arcs to the bitter end was the small Bridgend Cinema circuit.The last of their cinemas to use them being the Embassy at Bridgend.
Thanks for locating the picture which has done much to refresh my aged memory.I can recall that the auditorium was definitely much wider than the entrance area. Therefore I would think that the cinema was formed from two separate constructions joined together to make a whole.
The front of house being a conversion from a 19th century commercial/ residential building complete with chimneys (witness Evans Outsize Shop to the left which seems to be of the same genre) and the Queen’s auditorium being a separate, and much wider, new build circa 1911.The queue line to enter the hall always stretched along the west side of the entrance.
It is interesting to note that the offices of the legal firm Leo Abse and Cohen were housed at the top of the front of house portion of the cinema.I can recall that the entrance to these offices was from a separate door located to the right of the main cinema entrance.
The two black wires running horizontally across the top of the picture are probably trolley bus wires.Trolley buses replaced trams in the early 1950s. Thus the two angled poster sites were probably strategically located so that they could easily be observed by tram car passengers (and later trolley bus passengers) from the upper decks of these vehicles.
Extracted From:Some Memories of Old Whitchurch by Tudor Jones.
The Rialto Cinema has also disappeared. In its place are some new houses know as Rialto Court. So the name lives on. Saturday afternoon matinees at tuppence per person were hugely popular. Films featured serials with Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, etc, and various western cowboys. At the intermission between films, a lucky ticket number was called out. One week I won a jigsaw puzzle, one of the few prizes I have ever won in my whole life (so far!).
The Fit Mark Mall has recently been taken over by the Gaisano Mall Company. There is some concern in Koronadal that the cinemas may be closed and the space used for retail purposes.The sale sign in the picture represents Fit Mark selling of the contents of their department store before the hand over to Gaisano.
I’ve looked at the Google picture and feel sure that the building at the rear of the garage is the original auditorium.Therefore I’m wondering if it was the front of house portion of the building that could have suffered subsidence? Later being demolished and replaced by the present structure.
How close did the canal (if it ever existed?) run to the building?
I operated at this box several times in the early 1960s. I can confirm that at that time there was an interior access to the box.
I first visited this hall some time around 1946 and came to know it very well.The admission prices in 1953 were 6d for the Saturday matinee and otherwise 1/3d for the front and 2/– for the back.The sound was very ropey at that time and so were the projectors.Breakdowns being a very common feature especially when ancient ‘Three Stooges’ films were shown as a part of the matinee presentation.
The cinema received a heavy renovation in the early part of 1953 when it received new seating and presumably a new sound system.On Coronation Day 1953 a portion of Herbert Street was used for a childrens' street party which I attended.That day the Lyric presented a cartoon film show and gave free admission to all children.
The Lyric was located on the north side of a small river which used to flood during times of heavy rain. I can recall the hall being closed on several occasions because of a flood risk. Though I can never recall the hall actually being flooded.
One of the unusual aspects of the Lyric Cinema was the large amount of stained glass contained in the entrance lobby windows. The dominant colour was blue. As a consequence the cinema was often referred to as the ‘Ty Glas’ by Welsh speaking locals.A few years ago my sister in law told me that the cinema had been converted into a number of retail premises. However, some of the blue glass still remained in the lobby area that was now a part of a chemist’s shop.
Many of the South Wales valley welfare halls originally opened as concert venues, as meeting places for the local miner’s lodges and lecture halls for the Workers Educational Association (WEA). They nearly always contained meeting rooms, reading rooms and libraries. It was only in the late 1920s that they began to venture into film presentations.
These early welfare halls were often equipped with movable benches these being later replaced with fixed seats as the film side of the halls' operations became more important and fire safety regulations were enforced.Thus the original seating calculations for these welfare halls was a calculation of what the hall could physically seat rather than the actual number of seats.
Once again Capelmawr is being abusive. I grew up in the area during the late 1940s – early 1950s. My family often attended concerts, film shows and miner’s welfare association events at the hall.My father was a lodge official. In those times it was always know to locals as the “Waun Welfare Hall”
There seems to be some confusion about which member of the Willis Family founded the Willis circuit.
The Willis circuit was founded by W.E. (William Elias) Willis who was a native , I believe, of Tonypandy.He was still alive in the early 1960,s residing in a house in Wellfield Road that was immediately next door to the Globe.This house was used as the registered head office of the Willis circuit.
His son Rex Willis, a noted Welsh rugby player, had taken over the general management of the circuit by 1961.
It is interesting to note that Mickrick had to beg materials from another cinema.
The normal method of getting supplies for Withers cinemas was by requisition through the management.Requisitions had to be made two weeks in advance and were delivered in boxes which contained projection materials, carbon rods and light bulbs.
Both the officially Withers supplied blooping ink and film cement were of very poor quality. I think the Withers head office must have bought the substances in bulk containers and decanted them into smaller glass bottles for distribution to their halls.Thus the film cement was usually contaminated by air and of a poor strength when it reached the halls.
Many of the chiefs did not bother to requisition Withers supplied film cement because of the risks of the splices failing when they passed through the heads. What they did instead was to buy commercial one pint containers of neat acetone (which made much stronger joints) from the local chemists and Lion Brand Indian ink from the local stationers which proved to be a more scratch resistant blooping medium.Needless to say these expenses were met from the chiefs own pockets and not by the management.
The cash outlay was later recovered by surreptitiously selling off, to scrap dealers, the copper drippings from the carbon rods.The chiefs with Peerless arcs , which had drip trays, usually obtained more rescued copper than those who operated Kalee arcs.
Film splicers were also a bone of contention. The standard splicers were Premium machines but there were two differing types. One was a cheaper and simpler match and splice machine which did not contain a cutting blade.Hair dressing scissors or nails scissors were used to make the cut.These being much sharper than ordinary scissors.
The other more efficient model was a far superior type that contained both a cutter and an emulsion scraper
Withers boxes that were equipped with the smaller model often begged for the more advanced model but never got one.In many cases the chiefs again funded the purchase of the better model out of their own pockets.The standard chief’s wage in 1960 being about 12 pounds per week plus extra for Saturday matinees.When I took up jobbing projecting I purchased a Premier Two splicer which which was, for me two weeks wages, a lot of money in 1960.
Outside of the circuit hall many of the welfare hall jobbing projectionists did splices on an eyesight basis only aided with a pair of scissors. They often used an England’s Glory or Pioneer matchbox, guided by a thumb, to scrape off the emulsion.Pressure was supplied by a sheet of waxed paper placed against the joint and a wad of newspaper placed on top.The waxed paper being either common sandwich grease proof paper or ordinary paper which had a candle rubbed over it.
The Queen’s Cinema closed soon after I moved permanently to Cardiff to take up a post with Warner Pathe at the Dominions Arcade.The hall possessed brown varnished entrance doors, fitted with glass panels,which faced directly on to Queen’s Street. After the closure I noticed that rubbish had gradually begun to pile up inside of the entrance and eventually the doors were boarded over when the windows were smashed.
The change to a branch of Wymans was very rapid, taking place some months after the closure. The shuttered doors were there one week and a new fascia was in place the next. Wymans store consisted of an open air newspaper kiosk on the west side of the entrance with the main entrance door located further back in the building.I visited Wymans soon after it opened and can recall that the store was ground floor only, with a low ceiling, and reached right back to where the screen had been sited.
I’ve been wrecking my brain trying to visualise all that I can remember from that period.The Queen’s Cinema stood sandwiched between two other buildings and I cannot recall if it was a complete building in its own right.Therefore I’m wondering if the outer shell of the Queen’s Cinema was actually demolished?
I was last in Cardiff sometime around the very early 1960’s and these are the memories of an old woman which may be at fault.Can anyone on the ground in Cardiff confirm my thoughts about the fate of the building?