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I started my career as a cinema projectionist, in my home town of Crewe, at The Odeon in 1963. The film playing that first week was ‘Summer Holiday’ starring Cliff Richard and I remember that the audiences were huge. The Odeon was a very popular cinema in the town and played programmes on a weekly basis (seven days). The Odeon showed Rank 1st run release and shows were continuous from around 1.30pm daily (3.00pm Sundays). The Childrens Club on Saturday mornings was always well supported with both stalls and circle seating being used. It was always packed with over 1000 boisterous children. The projection suite was very spacious and included separate staff, rewind and rectifier rooms with a large workshop and several other storage rooms. The projection room housed two Gaumont-Kalee 18 projectors with President carbon arc lamps, a carbon arc spotlight plus carbon arc slide projector. Sound system was Duosonic with two amplifiers and a double non-sync unit. The light on the screen and picture quality were excellent.
Chief projectionist in 1963 was Mr. Mike Wells. Mike moved on to the Gaumont in Sheffield some time later. Co.chief was Mr.Frank Hamilton, who was the former chief projectionist from a potteries Gaumont cinema. Either Stoke or Newcatle. He travelled to Crewe daily by bus from his home in Newcatle. Brian Humphrey (second) and myself completed the projection staff.
I moved away from Crewe in 1964 to join the ABC circuit in Birmingham but shortly before leaving a new manager arrived at the Odeon from the Odeon cinema at Spalding in Lincolnshire. Mr Doug Clark and his wife Jean remained working at the Odeon in Crewe for many years, maybe until final closure and were goods friends of my parents. Also friends of my parents were subsequent chief projectionist Mr. John Winkle and his wife Edna. I think my father spent many hours with John in the projection room and loved the environment there. John had been a projectionist in the Middlewich and Northwich areas of Cheshire all of his working life and would later spend time working for the Hutchinson chain in Astra cinemas (formerly Odeons) along the North Wales coast
Although I never worked at the Ritz (formerly Kino) cinema in Crewe I did visit the projection room from time to time and enjoyed banter with the lads there. The Ritz had BTH Supa Projectors with xenon lamps installed and fitted with Projectomatic for changeovers. The Ritz showed mainly ABC circuit releases as there was not an ABC cinema in Crewe. I think I remember the Chief projectionist as being Mr Brian Roscoe. Other cinemas in Crewe at that time were Gaumont (formerly Plaza) Grand, Empire, Palace and of course the Lyceum theatre still operating and much improved on the theatre of 1963.
Former projectionist, Odeon Crewe, 1963 – 1964.
Kidderminster 12th April 2018
You are quite correct with your dates, Summer Holiday not being released until 18th February 1963, the date could not have been 1962 . I have rechecked my diary and must have misread ‘63 as '62????. I have reposted the amended text today. Thank you for your input and interest in the Odeon.
Cheers for now
Kidderminster Dec 2020
Hi everyone and many thanks to yourself bia for your information regarding Brian Roscroe. There was another young chap working as a projectionist at the Ritz at that time (early 60’s) but I am afraid his name now escapes me. Little did I realise at that time that I would finish my cinema days also working for the Star Group, who operated the Ritz, at the Majestic in Bridgnorth some twenty years later.
I did not know that the Empire had been operated by ABC. Have you any knowledge of the dates? And was the Empire demolished at the same time as that part of the town centre was redeveloped. Again any dates would be useful.
I only remember the Regal at Nantwich but not in any great detail and so have nothing new to contribute I’m afraid.
P.S. Sorry for long delay in replying. I am afraid I just forgot about the post!!!
It’s been a while since your post Doug but nice to see you are still interested in the “Trade”. Certainly great days at Hanley and I will always remember the theatre, picture and sound quality and of course you guys in the “pictures”.
Thanks again for posting and sorry for the delay in acknowledging.
I can confirm that this cinema was known locally as The Kino. It was always advertised in the local press and billboard advertising by this name. My grandmother used to visit there several times a week.
I am sure that the cinema, before it’s Ritz day’s, was operated by a Mr & Mrs Hand. I think from memory they may also have operated the EMPIRE in Heath St. Crewe and The GRAND in West St. Crewe.
I have never been able to find any reference to the EMPIRE anywhere which is a shame because despite being it being a little worse for wear I think it may have been an early exponent in Crewe of Cinemascope presentation.
I clearly remember seeing “The King And I” there as a child, my father and mother being disgusted that it was not being screened at the Odeon in Crewe.
Details of the Grand are elsewhere on this page under “Nearby Theatres”
Was the old chief at the Ritz Brian Roscoe?
I used to visit The Palace as a child with my mother during the early/mid 1950,s. By this time the projection room was at the rear of the stalls seating with an almost level if not uphill rake to the screen. I remember looking through the projection room door which had been left open to see the “huge” projectors at work.
For details of the original ODEON in Delamere St. click on the Focus cinema icon under “Nearby Theatres” or cut and paste this link
I have many fond and nostalgic memories of the ABC (Majestic) Bridgnorth being appointed chief projectionist there in 1967 and taking over from the previous chief Bert Bennett (see photograph). Bert, who was a cockney, had been at the Majestic since the early days of the war and knew the building and it’s foibles inside out. The cinema was unique in as much as it had two diesel engine powered DC generators for all of its auditorium and stage lighting, plenum, extractor ,boiler pump, tabs and masking motors as well as supplying power for the projector arc lamps and secondary lighting. Bert used to run them months about, the idle unit undergoing maintenance during it’s month off. By the time that I arrived the diesel engines had been replaced by two three phase motors and they were used to drive the DC generators and were still in use when ABC closed the cinema in the late 1970’s.
The projection room was very spacious and housed the usual ABC set up of Ross GC3 projectors, RCA sound and Peerless carbon arc lamps,along with slide projector. The spotlight had been removed by 1967. There were separate rewind, staff and battery rooms along with washing and toilet facilities all within the suite.
Staff at the time from my memory were second projectionist Fred Rowley and third projectionist Tommy Watkins. Our manager in 1967 was Mr.Colin Hay who I had met during my time at the ABC Cine-Bowl in Hanley. He did move on to ABC Harrogate I believe. His successor was Mr Alan John who stayed for several years before leaving the business.
Three ladies who would be well known to all patrons of the Majestic were Mrs Jessie Ping who worked as cashier and Miss Bill, the circle usherette and another usherette called Bett. There were others, Jack the handyman and the cleaning ladies whose names now escape me plus other staff who came and went.
We generally played Sunday for 1 day, Mon Tue Wed, Thu Fri evenings from 5.00pm & Sat am minors then continuous from around 1.30pm.
During early 1969 bingo was introduced to the Majestic by ABC on three nights per week (Tue Wed & Sat) however the cinema was soon acquired by the Star group and they spent a lot of money on refurbishing the auditorium and installing an oil fired boiler. Saturday late night shows were introduced after the Bingo sessions, commencing at around 11.00pm and running through till around 2.00am. Saturday was quite a long day!!!
And so the Majestic soldiered on into the late 1970’s doing OK business but never “busting blocks”
“The End” came in 1977 and it was a very sad time for all of us who had kept THE MAJESTIC alive.
It was great to see that it was subsequently reopened and that since that reopening it has kept the movie flag flying for Bridgnorth.
Well done to everyone concerned!!
Chief Projectionist ABC(Majestic) Bridgnorth
September 1967 – December 1977
Hi Mike & Steve Yes it would be Jim Hunt. I remember him well as he gave me my first Chief’s position at the Majestic Bridgnorth in 1967.
He also arranged for me to transfer from the Bristol to the new ABC Hanley in late 1965.
I have fond memories of both the Bristol and ABC even after some forty years plus have elapsed.
Projection staff I can recall were : Dave Brinkworth Chief. Dave Thom Co-Chief. There were two other guys, both seconds I think, Brian and Geoff . Sorry but can’t recall surnames.
Projection Room 1965 post 3 strip Cinerama
Cinemeccanica projectors, Ashcraft arc lamps
I worked as a projectionist at the ‘Oak’ for around twelve months from July 1964.
Sorry but can’t remember the names of any of the other projection staff, only the manager Albert Harris.
Left To Right Terry White Co-Second, Frank Shaw Chief, Doug Blakemore Co- Third