Wonderful world of the ‘West Ends’

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MIDWEEK Memory Lane’s look back at the closure of what was then the town’s last cinema inspired Pat Stamper to get in touch.

“What wonderful memories your article stirred up, we lived in Sandringham Road from 1940 until 1955 and the West Ends as we always called it, was a big part of my childhood.

“We used to pay a ‘tanner’ (sixpence in old money) to sit in the “spelkies” right at the front, but I always looked around to see if I knew anyone in the “ninepennies” a few rows back to sneak up and join them.”

Pat recalled the shilling seats were further back but the really posh seats cost 1s 6d (7.5p) and had a curtain at the side, “ideal for the courting couples”.

During the war films could be interrupted by air raids and Pat remembers being with her mum when Pathe News was showing Belsen and the horror camps.

Pat said: “She made me put my head down on her knee so I would not see anything of the horror, but I took two lemonade bottles back to the shop the next day (for the deposit) and went back to the West Ends again the next night, just to see what I had missed.”

She added: “We always re-enacted the films we had seen. My brother Bryan and I would sword fence, or ice skate, or ride our horses and shoot our guns, all the way back down Sandringham Road, the theme would alter to whichever picture we had seen.

“My brother Dick had a job in the projector room and on a Saturday morning when we used to go to the kids films, sometimes the film would snap, and while the film was being mended all the kids used to shout ‘put a penny in the gas’.

“Dick often used to come down to the front of the cinema and sing in his Al Jolson voice to keep the kids quiet until the film was fixed.

“My Sister Eileen had a job as an usherette for a while and we were delighted to use the concession tickets she got.

In her teen years Pat “noticed a boy in the queue, who I would later marry.

“We are still together after 55 years.

“We did a lot of our courting in this cinema – we could not afford the ‘posh’ cinemas such as the Forum, the Regal, the Odeon, or the Picture House, but we were content with the West Ends.

“Happy days, wonderful memories mixed with a few nostalgic tears thank you for letting me relive them again.”

Our thanks to you Pat.