Terry and Sandra Williams recall the local cinemas
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 24th February 2012 by Liam Physick
Terry and Sandra Williams mention the various cinemas that existed in the area when they were growing up: the Tunnel Road picture house, the Pavilion theatre, the Magnet in Picton Road, the Cameo and the Smithdown Picture Playhouse. They mention that the Pivvy was cheaper than the more popular Tunny, but was a frightening place to be inside because you would be “in the gods” i.e. near the ceiling, and the steps leading up to it were very steep. It would stage pantomimes, and one advantage of being in the gods was the trajectory it gave you for throwing things on stage! They next mention the Cameo Cinema murders, but make a number of mistakes: they seem unaware that the victims were the manager and assistant manager, and are under the impression that Charles Connolly, co-accused of George Kelly (the man hanged for the crime), was spared the death penalty on the grounds of his age, when in fact, he pleaded guilty to robbery and conspiracy to rob following Kelly’s conviction: they appear to have confused the Cameo case with the famous case of Christopher Craig and Derek Bentley, in which Bentley, aged 19, was hanged for a murder committed by Craig, who at 16 was too young to hang. It is also a mistake to call Connolly “the person who done the actual shooting”: the prosecution case was that Kelly had shot the men, and Connolly had simply waited outside as a look-out (despite the Crown having evidence from witnesses, not called at the trial, and not disclosed to the defence, that the killer’s accomplice did in fact enter the cinema). But most of all, Terry and Sandra seem to be unaware that the case was a miscarriage of justice. Terry finally recalls how he would have to run from one cinema to another, so popular were they
Interviewee: Terry and Sandra Williams
Date of Interview: 22nd November 2011
Terry: The picture houses which we used to go to around here, and there was quite a few, the . . .
Sandra: Tunnel Road.
Terry: . . . the, the Pavilion theatre itself, when it had . . .
Jodie: And what was that also, that was called the Pivvy as well, wasn’t it, yeah, yeah?
Terry: The Pivvy, yeah, yeah.
Sandra: Yes, yes, yeah.
Terry: I used to call it the Pivvy, and we used to be able to go into there cheaper than when we went to the, the picture house, if we went to the Tunnel Road picture house it was, you know, sixpence . . .
Sandra: Yeah . . .
Terry: . . . and if we went . . .
Sandra: . . . sixpence, old money.
Terry: Yeah, if, if there was something on which, you know, was open for, for children, it was only five pence, but we used to, or be put into the gods, which are right at the top near the ceiling, and it was, it was frightening because it was so steep, you, you felt if you’d lost your footing coming down the stairs, you would just tumble down . . .
Sandra: You’d go (indecipherable)
Jodie: Oh, yeah.
Terry: . . . and go over the, the end.
Jodie: What, you, what, you know you said about the animals going to the Pivvy from Edge Hill station, what year would you, what year approximately was that?
Terry: It’s got to be sixty . . . 64, 65 . . .
Sandra: Might have been just before that, as well . . .
Terry: Yeah, well, aye, certainly . . .
Sandra: . . . cos we moved from there 67, and we married in 68.
Terry: Yeah, but you’re a lot younger than me, though, yeah! (Jodie laughs) So that’s why, the age difference with you . . .
Terry: . . . but at that time, that was, really nothing unusual, to go to the Pivvy, because they used to have the . . .
Terry: . . . pantomimes on, and they used to throw sweets or oranges or apples, and we used to try and get them in the, in the gods which was a heck of a throw! (Jodie and Sandra laugh) Inevitably, they fell into the stalls, but, coming back to it anyway, but the cinema used to, picture house here, the Tunnel, used to be 6p, to go to the theatre to watch a pantomime was 5p, and then we used to go to the Smithdown Road, that was 6p, and they were all, really, 6p. What we used to do, on a Saturday, so many children went to cinemas, that . . .
Sandra: Flash Gordon, we used to go and see! (she and Jodie laugh)
Terry: Yeah, but there was that, that many cinemas to go to, and so many children went to them, you couldn’t always get in, so then you had to run from one to the other and on a number of occasions, I’ve, I’ve gone from Tunnel Road picture house up to the Magnet cinema house, cinema.
Jodie: Where’s that?
Terry: The Magnet, up in Picton Road . . .
Jodie: Oh, right.
Terry: . . . so it was the other side, the east continuation of Wavertree Road, going out towards Childwall, and if you couldn’t get in there, then you’d run down to the Cameo, and somebody murdered, had experience of the Cameo, that’s where the Cameo murders took place . . .
Jodie: Oh, right.
Terry: . . . someone, Kelly I think it was, who got hung, found guilty I think, and the person who done the actual shooting, I think, got off with it because he was too young, was he?
Sandra: Something like that.
Jodie: Ah, right.
Terry: But then I used to run from there up to the Smithdown Road picture house . . .
Sandra: That used to be the posh one, didn’t it?
Terry: Yeah. (Sandra and Jodie laugh) So, in terms of the, the picture houses you’ve got now, from here you had the Tunnel, the Capitol and the Pactons, so there’s three within 10 minutes of here, and then going the other way down, you had the Pavilion, Smithdown Road, the Cameo, and then going the other way then, the Magnet . . .
Sandra: Magnet, yeah.
Terry: . . . so, we were well catered for, but you didn’t always have the money, anyway.
Jodie: Yeah, and did you, were you running from one to the other because they were so full so you had to try and get into one, yeah?
Terry: Yeah, yeah, that’s right, yeah.
Sandra: Yes, yes, yes, yeah.
Jodie: Right, so it really was a popular pastime in this area, then wasn’t it, it seems like everyone did it?
Sandra: Oh, yes, yeah.
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