Fond memories of old cinema

Interior of the Corn Exchange in Alnwick.
Interior of the Corn Exchange in Alnwick.

I have happy memories of the Corn Exchange cinema, it was part of life at that time in its early years (when there was no television).

About 1940 onwards, it was open seven days a week, plus a Saturday matinee.

It showed some great films and Superman every Thursday, first house.

It was always very orderly, the staff were firm but fair. You just knew, no carry-on.

Mr Percy Sanderson was the manager, three other gentlemen were ushers downstairs, and Miss Tate, who Mrs Winkler from Thrunton speaks of, was upstairs looking after the balcony. She was very good at it, but strict.

On Sunday evenings, as there was only one viewing, Mr Jury used to play the organ in front of the screen in the pit to fill in the time. Sometimes, we used to sing along with him.

At the back, downstairs, was a small partitioned-off area of very basic seats which we nicknamed the Chicken Run. It was for us kids, 4d through the week, 7d on Sundays.

In later years, there was a sweet and ice-cream shop to stock up at, before pictures commenced.

When really good films were on, like Geordie (Bill Travers), or A Streetcar Named Desire (Marlon Brando), it was always full.

In fact, the queue was right down the steps to Hepworths the Tailors (now Ray’s Menswear).

I’ve seen, you would get right to the top of the steps and they would put the ‘house full’ board up. ‘Oh boy, well sick’.

Anyway, hope this helps folks to remember, I know it seems long, but I could give you pages of memories about happy times in the Corn Exchange.

Folks my age, 77, will remember the Chicken Run and happy times even during the war.

Dougie Hedley,

Alnwick