Saturday Morning Film Club at the Odeon

  • Subject: Oral History

Saturday mornings at the Odeon Cinema on Station Road, demolished in the 1960s as South Norwood moved into the age of the supermarket.

In this audio you can hear Richard, Mick and Sheila.

This audio is 4 minutes and 51 seconds long.

 

Audio Transcript:

Alistair (Interviewer): Did you go into the cinema when it was a cinema?

Richard: Oh yeah, yeah we used to go on a Saturday morning. There used to be, it was all excitement. It was always packed on a Saturday. You go and see, do you know, don’t even ask me what we used to go and see. But I remember sort of like in the interval, the manager of the thing would go up, get up on the stage, and he’d have a mirror. And someone up, they would shine a light down on the mirror and they would use the mirror to reflect into someone sitting in the crowd. And if you were lit up, you got free tickets for next week. So that was something that happened. You know, it was exciting. Saturday morning pictures was always good. We went there for years, me and my sister. And you’ll probably find there’ll be a lot of other people that would have done that as well. Someone, every time it pops up on Facebook, a photograph of the Odeon, everyone jumps up and down. “Oh, yeah. We used to go there, we did Saturday morning, I remember seeing this there, I remember seeing that.” Then you obviously get the people that say how sad it was when it closed, you know, lost a little bit of something. South Norwood.

Mick: So, we used to go up there on a Saturday morning because it was like the Saturday morning show for the kids, so we used to go there for that. Virtually every Saturday you used to go there because it was somewhere they used to take you. I’m not sure if my mum used to come with us, or we all used to go up in a big gang going up there. I can remember going up there, but I can’t remember if my mum was there or there was another adult because you was always running around.

Sheila: Well, you see, there wasn’t a lot of things to do when we were young people. There wasn’t the amount of things and certainly not the technology that there is now. We used to listen to the radio a lot. We always went to the cinema at least twice a week as a lot of people did in those days. The Odeon and of course, you had, when you went in, there was an upstairs as well as a downstairs, and you started off the price to go in to see the film. If you were sat at the front of the cinema, it was a shilling and then it was one and ninepence. Two and threepence if you wanted to sit at the back. If you wanted to go upstairs, I think it was two and ninepence. I’m going back in the old money but you had an usherette as you went in. You went in through, the usherette would be there to see you in, the doors would fling open, well, not fling open, you know, you push them open, and she’d be there with the torch, and she’d be showing you to some seats, whichever. They weren’t numbered and you didn’t have to sit in any particular seat. You just sat where there was room sometimes.

Sheila: And cinemas in those days would always have a lot of people in them. They wouldn’t be like the ones you go to now, where sometimes you go in, there’s 12 people sat in there. There’d be lots of people in there, and then it would go on. You’d have a programme that would go on for about three hours, where they’d be showing you what was going to come on next week or the week after. Then they’d have what they called Pathé News, news from all over the world, which would last for a few minutes. And then this person that had shown you to your seat, because the lights would come on then and she’d be walking down with a, I don’t know what you called it, but she’d have a tray, a band with a tray on, and she’d have ice creams and sweets and things, and you could go and queue up and buy an ice cream or whatever she’d got on her thing, which probably lasted for about half an hour, I’m not certain. Then the other half of the film, there was usually two films that were shown, but as I say, all these other bits and pieces, the whole thing took up over three hours. But a lot of people went to the cinema. As I said, there wasn’t the things to do that there is now.

South Norwood High Street Stories is funded by Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme delivered by Croydon Council. For more information visit www.croydon.gov.uk/southnorwood

Image Credit: Odeon Cinema on Station Road, 1937, John Maltby © Historic England Archive

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