John Marston remembers the Tunnel Road picture house
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 17th February 2012 by Liam Physick
John Marston mentions how there were many cinemas in the area where he grew up, notably the Tunnel Road picture house, or the Bughouse, as John and his friends called it! He remembers how bad the seats were, and how often you would enter halfway through the film - it would restart as soon as it finished, so you would still be able to see all of the action. Often, they would get there after dark, and would have to grope about to find a seat without a hole in it! Also, if someone in your row leant back, the entire row would lean back with them! He then explains the location: on the corner of Tunnel Road and Wavertree Road, where Job Bank is now: it was demolished in the 1960s
Interviewee: John Marston
Interviewee Gender: Male
Date of Interview: 2nd September 2011
John: We were also dominated by cinemas . . .
John: . . . they were everywhere . . .
John: . . . not just in town but in the, in the, in the, in, in the area as well, there was one local one called, as Brenda has just said, called . . . it was, the name changed, it was originally, it was there from the 1920s, that’s how old it was . . .
John: . . . and it was called the Tunnel Road picture house, it was, in its day, quite a popular picture house in turn, but it was never refurbished or nothing (Brenda laughs) so, by the time we were going to it, in the late 50s, early 60s (Jodie laughs), it had fallen into somewhat decline, and it had had a name change as well, it’d been changed into – I don’t know why they called it the Avenue, I don’t know why, I mean, someone’s dreamed up these kind of things. (Jodie laughs)
Brenda: We called it the Bughouse.
Jodie: The Bughouse!
John: But we got, our, our main focus, the Bughouse, because it was, it, it had fallen into such disrepair that . . .
John: . . . it was . . . I think it was a shilling to get in, wasn’t it, downstairs?
Brenda: Threepence. Oh, yeah, it was dearer upstairs, wasn’t it?
John: Upstairs was a shilling, yeah, but anyway . . .
Jean: The seats were wrecked, weren’t they, and everything?
John: Yeah, it was that bad (Jodie laughs), there was, most of the seats had holes in ‘em, so, if you went to an evening performance, and you got in after the – got to remember in them days, the old cinemas, not like now, they had continuous performances, so you’d go in the night-time and the fun would already be starting – that was an old habit we used to have, I don’t know why we did it, but, you, you’d actually not go in if it started at four . . .
Jean: You’d walk in, yeah, halfway through or something, yeah
John: . . . you’d go in 10 minutes early, afterward, the film started, then when it was showing again, you’d watch the 10 minutes that you’d missed.
Jodie: Ah! (they all laugh)
John: God knows why we did that, but . . .
Brenda: Cos you could.
John: . . . but, but anyway, it was, it was dilapidated by the time we got there in the 50s and 60s and, I tell a story, me and Brian went there, and of a night time, and you’d feel, cos you’d got, got in the film had started in the dark (Brenda laughs), you’d be feeling each seat, (laughing) trying to find a seat that didn’t have a hole in it!
Jodie: Ah! (laughs)
John: And when you’d eventually find, and if there was two of you you would have to find seats together, so it was quite a long process to try and find, the film’s started, people telling you to sit down, you eventually sit down, unfortunately, some of the rows weren’t stable (laughter all round), so if you leant back in the row, the whole row would go back with you! (Jodie laughs out loud) And so someone would be sitting on the other end and they’d be going, they’d be going back . . .
Brenda: It was like a sea wave, wasn’t it? “Can you stop rocking the row, please?”
John: But, the memorable part was the Saturday afternoon matinées, cos it was just for kids . . .
John: . . . so you’d have these, picture house was full, it was a whole picture house, by then.
Jodie: Where, where was the picture house?
John: It was here on the corner where this . . .
Brenda: Tunnel Road, Wavertree Road.
John: . . . this, that place you’ve just been talking about.
Jodie: Where Job Bank is?
Jean: Job Bank is.
John: That was where it was . . .
John: . . . that, they took it over, it was demolished and they built on that site . . .
John: . . . just up there, but you have to imagine it as it was in the 60s, it, it didn’t look like, that road and Wavertree Road doesn’t look like it did in the 60s . . .
John: . . . cos next to the picture house was a shop, a little row of shops, and there’d be rows of shops going up where the police station is, up in Wavertree Road, so it was totally different to what it is now.
Categorised under: Social Life