I used to cycle into Marlborough to the pictures when they started the first talkie, I sat in the front seat for sixpence and I saw Rookery Nook with Ralph Lynn and Tom Walls. The cinema was where Waitrose supermarket is now.
It was what we used to call a flea pit and my earliest memories was you went in and you went down steps, paid your twopence or threepence, in those days I am talking about 1929-30 I was about seven or eight years old and I had never seen silent films. A chap called Lewis used to play the piano and you’d sit there and you’d suddenly feel something going over your feet and it would be a rat or mouse from the stables at the back where Frees the coal merchants kept their horses. Then of course later on they had it refurbished and then it was a posh affair, you just went straight in then and you didn’t go down any steps or anything and then you had a balcony that went upstairs off the box office.
They had two projectors and of course when one reel was coming to an end the next one was switched on, the chap that was on there was Wally Bray. I can always remember Wally when I used to be up in the projection room he used to say to me “I’m just going to slip along to the Jolly Butcher for a pint”. He left me to it, I was green and I didn’t know much about what was going on, all of a sudden it would break down wouldn’t it and then of course there would be boo boo from down below, then I had to make a mad dash along to the Jolly Butcher and say Wally for gods sake come along its all broken down.
Also it had been what was known as the riding school and I think that was the Military Riding school and then it became a cinema.
That Cinema was a good thing during the war too because as you know we had a lot of troops stationed around Marlborough in the forest and billeted in the town and that used to be absolutely chock a block on a Sunday evening.
When the cinema was around my elder sister was the pianist, that was before the talkies, she played the piano to what was on the screen.