Entertainment in Whitley Bay

A Whitley Bay resident talks of entertainment at the coast during the 1930s and 40s.

There were several cinemas in Whitley Bay.  There was the Coliseum, the Empire, which became the Gaumont, the Playhouse and the Picture House, which was part of the Spanish City.  I used to like Tyrone Power and the Andy Hardy films.  I also liked to see films with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in.  I liked Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler musicals as well.  My cousin was a projectionist at the Empire Cinema.

When I was in my teens, I used to buy the Picture Goer every week and cut out pictures of film stars.  It wasn’t very expensive, about 5 or 6 old pence I think.  You used to get the best seats in the cinema for a shilling then.

I remember there was a roller-skating rink, which later became the Priory Theatre.  There was also a café at the Panama Dip that looked like a ship.  It was supposed to be a ship that had been washed up.

I went to concerts at the Empress Ballroom on a Sunday evening.  They were like a promenade concert and you could sit and have a cup of coffee.  There was a juke box at the Spanish City, and I would play records by Denny Denis on it.  Mostly on summer evenings people would just walk along the promenade and back.

On the beach there was a man with a motor boat who did trips to St Mary’s Lighthouse and back or to Tynemouth and back.  He had a portable jetty on wheels, and you would hear him shout “Anyone else for the motor boat?”.

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