Comments from Jeffrey Morris

Showing 51 - 61 of 61 comments

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about Regent Cinema on Oct 8, 2009 at 1:19 pm

In the Valleys I recall that the JW circuit cinemas used yellow and red neon to illuminat the cinema name.

In Blackood the cinema also boasted two strips either side of the facade with blue, yellow and red neon running from the top down to the canopy two strips of three colour either side which could clearly be seen in the evenings from nearby Oakdale, Penmain and Woodfieldside.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about Maxime Cinema on Oct 7, 2009 at 3:03 am

Hi Editha â€" I’m sorry to read that you were unable to access my website using the link above, I’ve just tried the link above and have been able to access and view the site so please do try again when you have a moment to do so. I assumed the projection team would be very male so I am pleased to read that your experience was not so stereotypical.
I remember that the Maxine would offer a double bill on Sundays, generally horror movies for one performance in the evenings. I can’t recall if the Capitol offered a different programme on Sundays?
I recall the Capitol in the later part of the sixties, by then it was all a bit make do which might explain how our experiences were so different, The foyer was a odd shape and access to the projection room was via an external staircase? There was a significant size stage behind the screen with storage area underneath and a fair size fly tower. Like the Maxime there was external neon lighting.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about Maxime Cinema on Oct 6, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Hi Editha
Thank you for your memories of both the Maxine & Capitol Cinemas.
I always found the presentation at the Maxine excellent, especially those tabs when the P&D ads were screened. I can still picture the ticket seller at the box office {I think I fancied her} I also picture the person selling from the kiosk too. I would love to read more of your insight on this cinema. I loved your comments following the fire brigade visit.
And congratulations, I am impressed, a female projectionist in the masculine valleys of the 1960s, I doubt if there were many other females then and how did the guys take to you?
My website includes a link to my email address and I would love to hear more from you.
If you have any corrections, ideas etc having viewed my website please do let me know. The research has been painful. The website includes photographs of the cinemas.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about New Hall Cinema on Oct 6, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Hello Editha, thank you for adding your comments, which I appreciate, as well as those added to the Blackwood Maxime listing to.
While researching the Jackson Withers Circuit I have found a number of conflicting pieces of information so it is refreshing to have feedback from someone who actually worked for the circuit â€" you are the only person to date, making you especially interesting.
The 1963 Kinematograph yearbook lists the registered office for the circuit as Park Place Cardiff with Hodge as MD and AJ Withers as Chairman. In 1937 the circuit is listed at New Hall Bargoed while in 1944 the circuit office is listed as the Albert Hall Swansea, the circuit was then trading as South Wales Cinemas.
You might find my website interesting and do feel free to contact me via the email link, it would be wonderful to hear from you.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about New Hall Cinema on Jul 22, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I believe the manager, Albert Jackson Withers, gave his name to the Jackson Withers circuit. This circuit was born in 1937 and partially financed through Withers friendship with Sir Julian Hodge, a curious and unusual alliance. From what I know of Albert Jackson Withers he and Sir Julian Hodge were chalk and cheese.

Sir Julian Hodge was born in London, he and his family moved to the South Wales Valleys, Blackwood, Bargoed, Pontllanfraith, eventually settling in Pontllanfraith.

The Jackson Withers Circuit comprised of more than 50 cinemas, mostly through acquisition of smaller independents in South Wales and the West Country, including Ebbw Vale theatres, South Wales Cinemas, Cardiff Cinemas Ltd and 15 other companies. Sir Julian Hodge became Managing Director.

I understand that the head office/booking office was listed as New Hall Cinema Bargoed.

Sir Julian Hodge agreed to meet me for an interview when visiting Cardiff from his then home in Jersey. Unfortunately he passed away prior to the agreed date of his visit. His colleague also agreed to meet me following Sir Julian’s death, unfortunately he passed away too! {bad luck or what?}

A representative of the Julian Hodge group agreed to meet me, however this never happened and I received no further indication.

Come on Editha Pearce, you must know more, get in touch and let us know.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about Memorial Hall Cinema on Jul 19, 2009 at 4:40 am

The link above relates to the Memo in Newbridge and is unrelated to the Memorial Hall in Caerphilly.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about Capitol Cinema on Jul 19, 2009 at 4:03 am

The Capitol Cinema started life as a theatre in 1914, later it became an indoor market before conversion to a cinema in 1939. Originally the venue seated 900 with a vast auditorium comprising of stalls and balcony. There was a huge stage with dressing rooms and flytower. During conversion to a cinema the Capitol then seated 1200. From my experience of visiting the venue it would appear as though the configuration of the venue had been changed considerably since its days as a theatre and market. Changes to the building for cinema use seemed awkward, in particular within the foyer areas. The screen was originally erected in front of the Proscenium arch with black masking to and no tabs. Evidence suggests that a change took place later where the screen was erected on the stage and tabs introduced.

The balcony/circle was stadium style while the stalls were raked with long curved rows featuring aisles either side but no central aisle.

Above the main entrance to the cinema was a neon sign name in yellow, both the Maxime and the Capitol and almost all other cinemas of the Jackson Withers circuit boasted yellow neon signage during the 1960’s. The Maxime was the exception because it also boasted additional decorative colourful neon signage

The Jackson Withers circuit operated both the Capitol and Maxime cinemas in Blackwood during the sixties through to the seventies. Both cinemas screened first run movies. This continued through to the summer of 1969 when it closed as a cinema and re-opened as a bingo hall, leaving the Maxime as the only operational cinema in the town.

Bingo wasn’t a success and the venue closed again in July 1970, the cinema remained unused and derelict with all fixtures intact from its days as a cinema and bingo. During 1977 the local authority considered plans for conversion to a sports and leisure centre, this never took off and the building was demolished in the 1980s to make room for a small quick save store and car park, this has also since been demolished and the site is now home to the new law courts

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about Capitol Cinema on Jul 19, 2009 at 3:27 am

The Capitol was a dominant mammoth building in the heart of the Cardiff shopping area. Living in the valleys we would usually go to the surrounding cinemas within this industrial area, on one occasion only did we visit the Capitol cinema in Cardiff and I was mesmerised. My Father decided that we would visit the Capitol to see THE SOUND OF MUSIC. It was without a doubt an experience, even at such a young age I was in love with the cinema, it’s buildings, its presentation and the cinema experience in general.

Later visits to the city as a teenager would always involve passing by this structure and I do recall advertising for double bills and live concerts by groups such as the Osmonds, Bay City Rollers and so on.

A huge building that surely ought to have been saved and put to use in the Principality as a showpiece live event venue.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about Hanbury Cinema on Jul 18, 2009 at 9:30 am

Although I can’t be sure exactly when the Hanbury closed I can confirm it was still showing movies in 1973, I went along to see the POSEIDON ADVENTURE and THE EXORCIST during 1972 and 73.

I think it must have closed in or around 1974 as I went to the town to see EMMANUELLE at the newly opened CAMEO cinema in the high street {since demolished}.

A big shame that the Hanbury failed to re-open in 1990. Hopefully the cinema will not be demolished, it holds a commaning position in the town and I suspect it might well vanish as a result of it’s location.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about Blackwood Miners' Institute on Jul 18, 2009 at 9:09 am

Blackwood Miner’s Institute and Oakdale Workmen’s Hall and Institute Picture House are two different venues. Oakdale is a village on the outskirts of Blackwood town. The Institute Picture House was built behind the Oakdale Miner’s Institute and Workmen’s Hall, as with the Institute {or Stute as it was known locally} the Picture House was built from contributions paid for by local miners.

The Stute itself opened in 1917 the Picture House was built some years later although originally it was built as the “new hall” and converted to a cinema some years after in 1927, opening with a silent movie entitled APRIL SHOWERS and supported by a small orchestra who were dismissed a few months later to be replaced by Madame Templeman, appointed as musical director in 1929.

The last regular performance of a movie at the Picture House was in the late 1960’s although Saturday morning matinee’s for children continued through the sixties and early seventies, usually a CFF programme or a feature length film staring Norman Wisdom, Laurel & Hardy or the three stooges, a little later colour adventure movies such as Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts and the St Trinians series were shown on a Saturday morning to a rowdy crowd of local kids.My Sister and I would be there regardless of what was showing as would most of the village children.

The cinema featured a balcony and stalls seating 533.

The Institute was closed in the late 1980’s and rebuilt brick by brick at the St Fagins Museum in Cardiff. Unfortunately the Picture House was demolished as it was too big for the St Fagins museum.

Blackwood Miner’s Institute remains open and financed by the local authority, mostly for live stage performances with the occasional film show.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris commented about Maxime Cinema on Jul 18, 2009 at 8:34 am

Wonderful to see Editha Pearce’s contributions on cinemas in the valleys and while observing respect to Editha I must challenge some of the comments and information provided (sorry).

The Maxime cinema formed part of the Jackson Withers chain (using other trading names, as did many other valley town cinemas}. The interior was relatively modern with excellent tabs. The auditorium was spacious and the cinema was well run and managed throughout the sixties through to the seventies. Most locals would find it difficult to tag this cinema as a ramshackle or flea pit, on the contrary it was a pleasant venue with roadshow style presentation, the projection team were ahead of their time in many respects and the presentation was probably the highest in the valleys, based on my own experience as a patron.

The nearby Capitol cinema, operated by the same organisation, was ramshackle and considered a fleapit in comparison to the Maxine.

The 2-screen conversion in the original balcony was tasteful and when compared to other conversions of that era it was a considerable achievement.

I understand the local authority financially contributed to the operation of the twin screens, the Rank organisation were not overly interested in cinema then and more focused on bingo. It remains difficult to understand why the twin screens were not financially viable in an area that the nearest twin screen or large cinema was 12 miles away

Eventual Rank got it their own way and the twin screens close and the balcony converted back for bingo use.