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Hi davbrad. Do you have any photos of your mum or Tom Bradbury at the Roxy? If so, I would love to see them. The projectors, one of which is now fully restored and in regular use in my garage cinema, were installed in 1947, so I am running a machine that your mum and Tom Bradbury worked on all those years
ago. If you send me your email address, I can email you some photos of the machines in the Roxy/Ritz before I removed them and of the one in my cinema. And, if you are ever in the area (I live a couple of miles from Surbiton in Hinchley Wood), you are VERY welcome to visit for a show. You can even operate the projector your mum worked on. My private email is
I have converted the arc lamp to take a 36volt 11 amp halogen bulb. I did so by fixing the lamp holder to the front carbon guide, so that I can use the original arc mirror, periscope and arc alignment card, and I even have carbons in place. Now that my son has left home and I have his bedroom, which overlooks the back garden, I intend to have a couple of projectors (I have several more vintage machines waiting to be reassembled) pointing into the garden for outdoor shows. I will then be running carbon arcs. I have a couple of single phase mercury rectifiers.
Yes, I rebuilt one projector and have kept the other for spares. My second machine came from the Premier, Enfield, which is also featured on Cinema Treasures. Unfortunately, this site is not accepting pictures, but if anyone is interested in seeing photos of my garage cinema, please email me on
In 1989 I removed the projectors and one, fully restored, is in regular use in my garage cinema. It consists of a Ross GC1 mech, an RCA LMI9031 soundhead and a Peerless Magnarc lamp.
I liveds a short walk from the Premier Cinema. In the 1950s children were a lot safer than they are now and, from the age of five I was allowed to go to the Premier on my own. Mum would send me off with a shilling (5 new pence) and often a cheese roll from the local cafÃ© where she worked to help make ends meet in what were not very prosperous times. I then had an agonising decision. Should I spend the shilling on an expensive seat at the back of the cinema, or go in the sixpenny (21/2 new pence) seats and spend sixpence on ice cream. Being an avid film fan, I usually opted for the better seats. In those days seats were priced in blocks of rows, becoming cheaper the nearer they were to the screen.
The Premier belonged to a very small independent chain and was unable to get the pick of the new releases, which went to cinemas in Waltham Cross and Enfield Town, which were part of larger circuits. It survived on a diet of not-so-new releases, re-releases an almost archival material. From my point of view that was a bonus, as I was able to catch up on old Westerns, my favourite being The Lone Ranger, and swashbucklers such as Captain Blood, which had been made in 1935!
In was once thrown out of the Premier. I mentioned earlier that seats were priced according to how near they were to the screen. On this occasion I paid my shilling, which should have entitled me to go in the adult two shilling seats, as children were admitted at half price. However, the cashier had given me a shilling adult ticket instead of a shilling childâ€™s ticket, so the usherette, a fearsome lady by the name of Betty, took me to the adult one shilling seats at the front. I protested in vain so, as soon as the usherette was out of sight, I sneaked back to he adult two shilling seats. The usherette saw me and escorted me back to the cheap seats. I waited until the lights dimmed and sneaked back again to my rightful place in the more expensive seats. Before I knew what was happening I was lifted out of my seat, frogmarched to the nearest exit and unceremoniously dumped outside. I then had three hours to kill as, even though I was in the right, I was not sure that Mum would believe my side of the story.
Many years later, in 1977, the owner of the Premier let me remove the projectors, two very early â€œtalkieâ€ machines dating from 1930. I was let in by the cleaning lady, whom I instantly recognised as Betty. She was such a nice lady and we had a good laugh about what had happened some twenty years before. She did admit, however, that back then she would not stand for any nonsense!
Dad used to take me to church in Waltham Cross and the highlight of my week, on alighting from the bus at the Bell on a Sunday morning, was to look at the stills for the next weekâ€™s programme. Nearly fifty years on I can vividly remember the feeling almost of despair when I saw a notice in one of the stills frames announcing that the cinema was closing that very week for bingo.
The Premier is long gone, but at least I have happy memories, many photos both inside and out and, best of all, the projectors, one of which is fully restored and in regular use in my garage cinema. Every time I run it, I think of myself as a child watching those images on the screen projected by that very machine.
A few â€œbiographicalâ€ notes on the Premier.
It opened as a silent cinema on 17th January 1921 with Wolves of the Night. The first talkie, Sunny Side Up was shown on 26th May 1930. It closed on 19th April 1961 after the final showing of The Left Handed Gun and Wind Across The Everglades and became a bingo hall. It finally succumbed to the wreckersâ€™ ball in January 1985.
In latter years the Florida was owned by the Davies circuit and/or British Cinematograph Theatres, both of which were run by John Wingett Davies. He was a lovely, kind man, very involved in the Cinematograph Exhibitors Association. In 1977 he very generously gave me the projectors from one of his other cinemas, the Premier in Enfield, which had been my local until it clossed in 1961. One of these machines is now in regular use in my home cinema.
I saw my first ‘X’ film , “The Pit & the Pendulum”, at the Savoy. The minimum age in those days for an ‘X’ was 16 but, being tall for my age, I got in at 13. To make myself look more adult I went in smoking a cigarette! I can remember almost every detail of that visit, such was the experience. From then on I was hooked on horror films and still am, but there is nothing to compare with the thrill of getting in underage. I was never once challenged over my age, although on numerous occasions people, who I could see were older than me, were refused admission.
Hi Laurie. I don’t suppose that you have any photos of the inside of the Corner even as a club? I started at St Ignatius College, Stamford Hill, in 1959 and used to look at the stills outside the Corner, though I never went in. It closed not long after. I remember that a couple of doors up there was a sweet shop, where they made delicious sweets on the premises. Happy days!
Who remembers Tony’s Peanuts? I used to go regularly to the Florida on a Sunday to see the “Sunday For One Day Only” horror film. As you waited outside for the cinema to open, you would see a figure in the distance walking towards you from the direction of Spurs ground and swaying wildly from side to side. It was Tony Pankle. He had one leg much shorter than the other, but did not wear a block boot. At the cinema he would look around, presumably to see if there were any coppers, unzip a canvas bag and flip out a handwritten cardboard notice bearing the words “Tony’s Peanuts 6d”. Because he was so deformed, I never bought any. I feel both ashamed of myself and very sorry for Tony, who must have been very poor to have to scrape together a few pennies like that.
It is Kieron backwards.
The Premier had opened in 1921 as a silent cinema and was converted to sound in April 1930 with the installation of a pair of Western Electric Universal Base sound reproducers. It was the practice of Western Electric engineers to print the date, on which the installation had been completed, in white paint on the underside of the bedplates. The machines at the Premier were â€œTESTED O.K. 15.4.30.â€ However, the first talkie, Sunny Side Up, was not shown until 26th May 1930.
The exact configuration of the machines in 1930 is unknown. The Universal Base was so named because it could take any make of projector head and arc lamp, and it is possible that those already in use were retained. They were subsequently replaced with a Kalee 12 projector head and Monarc lamp. Both first appeared in 1939, although the Kalee 12â€™s specification dates it to the early 1940s. It is also not known whether synchronous turntables for sound on disc were fitted, as some cinemas opted for sound on film only. I removed them in 1977 and one, now fully restored and with a synchronous turntable, is in frequent use in my garage cinema.
Don’t be fooled by the old car. This photo does not date from 1939. It was taken in or after 1960. The film advertised on the poster is “Confessions of a Counterspy”, which dates from that year. I know, as I have a print from the original negative and the title is quite clear. As can be seen, the building is very dilapidated – the X is even missing from EXCELSIOR on the canopy.
I have only just seen your post! As per my post above, the Premier was my local. I have done some research on it going back to its opening in the twenties and have a collection of photos inside and out taken while it was a bingo hall, though it had hardly changed from its cinema days. Even the screen and tabs were still there. If you are interested, I am happy for you to contact me on
The cinema still boasts (or did when I was last there) many original features. There are a number of the original inlaid wooden doors, and some beautiful plasterwork in what was the former cafÃ© and is now offices. Behind the new screen is the top of the original proscenium, complete with concealed lampholders and more decorative plasterwork. Former “chief” Neville Dimon was instrumental in getting all the lights working again in the central internal dome in screen one. The original projection room was, at the time of my last visit, home to pigeons. The massive three phase mercury arc rectifiers and associared electical equipment was all still in situ in the intake room.
Century was the name which Granada gave to their lesser cinemas, particularly when they owned two in the same vicinity, such as at Slough and Cheam.
Walter Forrest, the nephew of George Coles, told me an amusing story about the chimney of the pub referred to above. If you look at the photo you will see that the stack rises up against the side wall of the Troxy. Fire regulations dictated that the stack had to be above the level of the adjacent building. Apparently, its length and height caused such a draught that it was impossible to sit by the fire reading a newspaper without the paper being sucked up the chimney. The architects were called back to remedy the situation!
I visited this cinema on its last day, as I knew the projectionist Ray Aguillar. It was a very sad occasionand some of the staff were near to tears.
When I visited the Tivoli many years ago after closure by the “committee” I was intrigued to see two sets of four concrete blocks on the floor of the projection room, where the projectors had once stood – a dead give-away that they ran Western Electric Universal Bases!
My late father, who was born and bred in Edinburgh told me that shortly after opening the Playhouse either suffered from, or was rumoured to be suffering from, subsidence. In view of its vast size and the fact that it is built on a hillside, this apparently deterred a lot of people from visiting.
A few doors away are the sorry remains of the Salon, a very early picture house, which closed in the 1970s. The entrance was a one storey structure built in the front garden of one of a row of large terraced houses. This remains boarded up with no sign of its cinematic past. The auditorium was built in the steeply sloping back garden and has long since been demolished. If only it had survived a few more years, the Salon would have merited listing, as it retained many of its original features right to the very end.
Epsom now boasts (if that is the right word) a new 8 screen soulless and sterile Odeon multiplex. The two identical operating boxes, situated one above the other and each serving four screens, consist of even more mind-numbing expanses of plain plastered walls. For someone like me – a film fan of some 55 years, who has projected films of all gauges from 8mm to 35mm for over 40 years – one visit was more than enough.
I remember the Mayfair very well, as it was opposite my old school, St. Ignatius College, Stamford Hill, Tottenham. While I was there the college / church purchased the buiding and replaced it with a bland meeting hall. As some of you may know, St.Ig’s most famous “old boy” was Alfred Hitchcock. The Central Hall dated from circa 1911, when Alfred Hitchcock would have been a pupil at the college. I can imagine him looking with anticipation at the stills outside the Central Hall, just as I did some fifty years later outside the Mayfair. Colin Crickmay was still alive in the 1970s and very kindly let me copy his photo of the old Central / Roxy. The Mayfair appears to have been a total rebuild.
Originally, there were large windows in the faience tiling on both sides of the entrance. These contained stills and details of forthcoming attractions, which could be changed from inside the foyer. These windows were still there when I left the area in 1970. Subsequently, the front was retiled, so that it now has an almost prison-like quality, unrelieved by anything apart from the entrance and that looks narrower and less impressive than it was.
Behind the large semicircular window at the front of the buiding was the rewind room / workshop. The projectors were BT-H SUPA Mk.Is, which after closure were visible from the street through the open side door of the projection room. Like other buildings in the area, such as the Dalston Odeon just up this road, this lovely cinema was vandalised by the scum, who now infest this part of North London.
In the 1960s the Kenning Hall was one of those cinemas you visited to see obscure horror films and revivals of older pictures. On a visit to this quaint little hall one really cold and snowy winter’s day in the 1960s, I was puzzled to see the handful of patrons huddled in little groups next to the walls. The reason soon became apparent – they were desparately trying to get some warmth from the half dozen radiators, which were totally inadequate to heat a building of even that modest size. I was a fanatical film fan and would travel all over London to catch a rare movie, but the cold defeated me and I had to walk out before contracting frostbite in my toes – the first, and last, time I have ever done such a thing.
The name BEN HUR CINEMA survived painted on the side wall of the building for many years after closure.