We would cry, plead and beg for the money to go, asking neighbours if they needed messages, hoping for a tip and looking all over for empty pop bottles as they had a twopenny deposit on them.
The Pictures was our name for the cinema when I was a boy and we were not, as small children, taken there by our parents very often. Looking back, with three children it would have been a fairly expensive outing. I do remember my dad taking me only once to Newcastle and twice to the cinema. I can still remember the two films, A Portrait [sic] of Dorian Gray and The Wicked Lady, starring Margaret Lockwood and James Mason. When we were older and could go ourselves to North Shields; there were six cinemas: The Rex, The Princes, The Comedy, The Boro, The Howard Hall and The Albion.
Our favourites were The Boro and The Howard Hall, and we could not wait for Saturday afternoons when the matinees were shown. We usually got the money (sixpence) from our parents to go, walking there and walking back. This was no problem for us because we walked everywhere (we would not be allowed to do that today, how sad). When we were on holiday however, the kid’s matinees were on another couple of times each week and getting the money was not easy. We would cry, plead and beg for the money to go, we would ask neighbours if they needed messages, hoping for a tip. We looked all over for empty pop bottles as they had a twopenny deposit on them and we’d take them back to the shop and get the money. When we had the sixpence ticket price off, we would go.
Westerns were my favourite, Tom Mix, The Lone Ranger and Johnny McBrown were my special heroes, I loved them. We cheered our heroes and booed the baddies. Of the comedies we liked Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin, but The Three Stooges were the stars. The place erupted with laughter at their antics and the noise was deafening.
The Princes was owned by Gaumont British and they ran The GB Club on Saturday mornings. You had to join and get a card to get in. They showed all kids films, cartoons, westerns, comedies and cliff-hangers, nonstop for a couple of hours.
I never lost my love of the cinema until recent years when they started to put in sex or violence or both, not as part of a good story or plot, it seems to me just for the sake of it. I have not been to the cinema for years, I’m happy with the wonderful memories of my visits to the pictures in a bygone era.