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September 13, 2017 Regular Features, September 2017 No Comments

Martinborough Picture Theatre 1913 – 1964

The first movie theatre proprietors were Garland and Stewart ‘ The Imperial Picture Co’. The 1013 rental for the Town Hall was one hundred and forty pounds per annum ($22,348). Over time there were numerous others running the Picture Shows, these included H J Reid, H Gooding, R Hodges, W McKay, A Raines, Bradley and Hunter, Bouzaid, W Blackwell, R Wright, C Foreman, G Cotter, Brown, Follet, M Prior and Mrs Stone.

There was a setback early on when fire broke out in the projection box The audience evacuated in an orderly manner leaving behind a few caps, hats and gloves. A greater tragedy occurred in 1933 when W Blackwell, the proprietor at the time, fell through the ceiling onto the seating bellow and died shortly later.
A 1930 upgrade in 1930 had projection box built poking out of the upper frontage of the hall to accommodate new the projectors which enabled ‘talkies’ to be shown. Previous to this a piano was played the music being appropriate to what was being shown. Pianists included: Miss Holmes, Mrs Nicholson, Frank Duffy and Mrs Jack Hunter )who played the pianola).
A Mid show break was always held for the audience to purchase refreshments, ice creams, drinks and sweets, which were sold by C Woodley and Dick Soughton from in the foyer. In 1949 a small shop was built at the front of the Hall on the right hand side for the purpose, this was run by the proprietors of the time: Browns, Follets, Pryor and a Mrs Stone.
As a child with a shilling to spend, ninepence went on getting in and threepence to spend at half time( two chocolate fish or two toffee bars?)
Later sweet shop was added onto and used as accommodation, the later as the TAB. It was finally demolished in a controlled burn as fire brigade practice.
Mate Higginson
Magic Moments in the Martinborough Town Hall
On 20th August 1930 “Sherlock Holmes” arrived in Martinborough.
The sensation of the “Talkies” had arrived.
Callile Bouzaid, my grandfather, rented the Martinborough Town Hall from 1930 until 1943, for the princely sum of approximately 20- 25 pounds a month, so that Martinborough residents could enjoy this new-found entertainment three times a week. Rent included the electricity charge.
On the screen appeared iconic movies such as; “Hit the Deck, Welcome Danger, All Quiet on the Western Front, High Society Blues, Billy the Kid, Silent Witness”, and not least “The Virginian”, starring all time heart throb Gary Cooper.
The thundering hooves of Silver, the Lone Star Ranger’s horse resounded throughout the hall in a matinee session, echoed by jaffas rolling down the floor. The gun-slinging outlaw with the good heart never killed an innocent man. Then to fall in love with an innocent young girl. What could have a greater appeal to the heartstrings? Danger spiced with romance.
And so risqué – “The Innocents of Paris” starring Maurice Chevalier, positively riotous and bawdy, causing more than a few eyebrows to be raised in disapproval. I remember “To Sir with Love” . “I was the sole occupant of the cinema, sitting up stairs, watching Sidney Poitier’s magnificent performance and listening to Lulu’s splendid rendition of the song.
Graham Stephenson

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