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Byron Community Project recalls memories of Byron Cinema

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The Byron Community Project is not just about restoring a building and bringing cinema back to Hucknall.

Since it opened in 1936, the Byron has been the source of many happy memories – first dates, birthday treats, and the chance to see giants of the silver screen.

With this in mind, the Byron Community Project is keen to record oral histories.

“We sit down and just chat to see what you remember about visiting the cinema,” says David. “It’s amazing the Heritage stories that come to light!”

Recently, the Project visited St John’s Day Centre.

Now in her nineties, Edith Chamberlain remembered being a Byron usherette during the War.

“When the air-raid siren on the cinema roof sounded,” she said, “we couldn’t go home. Some customers walked out, but we had to stay behind to look after the rest.”

Edith stood no nonsense from noisy cinema goers and said: “We’d shine our torch light on them, and say ‘If you’re not quiet – outside!’”

When the film had finished and the audience went home, the usherettes had to put all the seats back up, and check for lost property.

Said Edith: “I found plenty of glasses and umbrellas, but no money – never any money.”

Resident, Fred Williams (76) remembered standing outside the cinema when an A-certificate film was showing. He said: “You’d stand there, ‘Please sir, would you take me in, please?’ 99 out of 100 they would, and when you got in, you went your own sweet way.”

Fred and his mate tried creeping back from the cheap cinema seats to more expensive ones in the dark. The Commissionaire spotted them, and said “Keep walking!” “He walked us out of the cinema!” laughed Fred. “We didn’t try that again.”

“When I was older and started courting, you were hoping your mum and dad went out, so you could have a night in, and – you know…”

But the cinema was a good place to take your girlfriend. “Downstairs it were 9d or 1/-; upstairs it were 2/1d. Big jump, isn’t it?!” But upstairs there were double seats. “You could put your arm round! They were enjoyable dates.”

If you have Byron Memories to share or know someone who has, email David at volunteer@thebyronproject.co.uk.

 

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