Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The magic of movies in a long ago, dank cinema

We lived in Woking, Surrey, UK in the mid-1960s.

One of the special treats was to be allowed to go to the Odeon Cinema on a Saturday. It was THE weekend event for the 5-10 year-old set. Several hundred kids crowded into an old converted theater. I see from some searches that it held 852 and I recall it as always being full.

The pungent mix of smells of old cloth seats, sweets, unwashed kids, and drying wool clothes. Six pence to get in after standing in line in the wet and the cold with all your friends. Another threepence for sweets.

Finding seats with your friends in the stampede in. The noise of excited voices. The falling of the lights and opening of the curtain. There were a number of shorts, usually cartoons but sometimes brief films (news?) Definitely Flash Gordon shorts from the 1930s. And then the main attraction. I remember westerns but there were likely Disney movies as well.

Afterwards, and only occasionally, we would repair to the fish and chip shop just a few shops down from the cinema. Deep fried fish and chips, served in conically rolled newspaper.

I don't know why all that was brought to mind this morning but it prompted me to go searching to see if I could find a picture of the old Odeon, long since demolished to make way for office buildings. I recall the Odeon being on High Street but in fishing up Google maps, I see that, in typical British fashion, that stretch of road switches from High Street to The Broadway to Maybury Road. The cinema would have been at the corner of The Broadway and Duke Street.

I think this was it. Kind of pedestrian looking for what in my memory was a magical movie palace. The first view is the front on Duke Street. This is where we stood in line waiting to pay our admission.

And this is the side on The Broadway.

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