“I remember the old and grand Granada Cinema before it became a bingo palace!
“It was kept very clean and in perfect condition. A big, imposing, colonel-like elderly man with a white moustache and wearing a very smart light-blue uniform with brass buttons and including a smart official peaked hat which made him look even bigger. His job was to march up and down the white steps in front of the swing doors to prevent unruly under-age children trying to get in to watch ‘A’ or ‘X’ films!”
“The Granada had a famous organ which came up in the interval and was played by a gifted organist, while we sang songs to the words which came up on the screen – happy times! Sometimes there was a show in the interval. I remember a line of pretty showgirls doing the can-can on one such occasion.
“And it was all such good value. just the price of a cheap ordinary ticket – for which you would always get two films – the main advertised film and a lesser, shorter one. As well as the films there would be a Pathé Newsreel and the trailers of next week’s films. Tubs of ice cream sold in the interval and sometimes cups of tea available during the film, brought to the row by the usherette and passed along to whoever had asked for it!
“It was always a wonderful, affordable occasion there ‘going to the pictures’!
“Those were the happy days before TV.”
“Saturday Kids Cinema was a regular event for lots of youngsters in Tooting. The Tooting Grenadiers as we were known turned up in their hundreds to watch the old black and white westerns and classic cartoons. There were also competitions for us to take part in such as singing, impersonations, and yo-yo. It was a fantastic thing to look forward to each Saturday morning.
“We used to go to the Granada on a Saturday morning. Sixpence used to get me a ticket for the film and a Coke. We’d see a cartoon, the feature film, and what they used to call a serial, which was normally something like Zoro or Batman getting into scrapes and ending on a cliff-hanger that would be continued the next week.
“I did collect records myself. I’m a huge Beatles fan and have lots of memorabilia. My greatest regret is not being able to see The Beatles when they played The Granada. I was desperate to see them but the tickets were 7 and 6 each and my mum just couldn’t afford it. I do regret that. I would have loved to have seen them. I remember they stayed in Trevellian Road when they played there.
“In my early teens I used to go with friends to watch the wrestling (English professional wrestling) at the Granada. I remember Rebel Ray Hunter and Mick McManus. It was in the evenings. They also did “midget wrestling” which you wouldn’t do these days.”
“I remember the cinemas (picture houses):
- The Classic
- The Mayfair*
- The Vogue*
- The Granada
- The Astoria*
*These ones we knew how to sneak into because we had scoped out the staff door out the back and you could sneak in without paying and see the films for free.
“At the Granada you got to stand up at the front and get free gear and snacks if it was your birthday. I got caught out when it was my birthday four times in a year! After the cinema at the Granada, everyone would queue for doughnuts at Hutchin’s the Bakers next door.”
“At the Granada we watched Saturday morning movies, also other movies. In the early 60’s many popular pop groups appeared there including the Beatles and Rolling Stones. The high street was very different then in that there were shops like the butchers, green grocers. Smiths on the corner of Vant road and Franciscan was a two story department store. Everything closed down on Wednesday afternoon. Only the off licence was open on Sundays. Where M and S is now was a huge building and I can’t remember the name of it now, but Ensham school had a prize giving there , Harry Secombe presented the prizes. Our choir teacher stopped us mid song , to start again and properly that time!
Woolworths was almost next door. You probably know about the changes at the Broadway. Public baths were across the road from the public loos.
It was a good place to grow up in.
Anne Patricia MacLeod