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  Where you are: Local History - Snippets - Pictures
  Going to the Pictures
 

 

Among all the news of church activities, local servicemen fighting in the War and fund raising projects, Tickhill’s Parish Magazine in April 1917 carried an unusual feature headed ‘Cinema Commission’:

Some remarkable facts relating to the cinema industry were disclosed at the first meeting of the Cinema Commission, which was formed by the National Council of Public Morals, at the instance of the Cinematograph Trade Council, its object being to inquire into the physical, moral and educational influence of the cinema. Evidence was given by the chairman of the London Branch of the Cinematograph Exhibitors’ Association to the effect that at the end of 1914, over £15,000,000 had been invested in the business, while in 1915 nearly another £2,000,000 had been added; and even these figures did not include large sums of money privately expended. The week-day attendance at the 4,500 halls is stated to exceed three and a quarter millions a day, and the Sunday visitors total for the year nineteen and a half millions. The figures, we are told, ‘represent a visit to the cinema on the part of every living inhabitant of the British Isles twenty-four times a year, or, roughly, half the entire population of men, women, and children visit a cinematograph once every week’. Fifty per cent of the visitors take seats costing only 3d and under, a fact which points to an extensive juvenile patronage.’

Tickhill has never had a cinema. Before the First World War, residents could attend lectures, for example held in the National School, illustrated with limelight illustrations using an oxyhydrogen lantern (a flame combining oxygen and hydrogen was directed on to lime to produce an intense white light). One such presentation was held on 10 March 1896 when the Vicar of Kilnhurst, the Revd P Houghton, gave an illustrated talk on ‘Some recent discoveries in Eastern lands, and their relation to Scripture records’. Front seats cost 6d other seats 2d.

With the opening of the Library and what became a multi-purpose main room, local people had access to more light-hearted entertainment. Films were screened in the Library, starting with silent movies accompanied by piano playing to enhance the unfolding drama. One of the early pianists was Ida Waiton (née Marsden). After the Second World War, there are memories of films being shown in the Library as part of a Sunday School treat at the instigation of Canon Cook. One memory is of Mr Richardson from Weardale House bringing his projection equipment to show films in the Library.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, part of the Saturday routine for some youngsters was making their way to Bircotes for Saturday morning cinema screenings. They were given 6d for the return bus fare by their parents, but sometimes walked one way to save money to buy sweets. Admission to the cinema cost 6d. The cinema manager’s exhortations to the children about not leaving chewing gum on the seats sometimes had the opposite effect!

What are your earliest cinema-going memories?

 

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