Letter - Memories of Wakefield cinemas of the past

Your nostalgic page on Wakefield’s former cinemas certainly brought back memories.

I was born in Wakefield in 1920 and was brought up in Alverthorpe. From the mid 1920s onwards, and every Saturday night, I would go with my parents to the then enormous Wakefield market, which closed when a hand bell rang at 9pm.

The top of Westgate was referred to as the Corn Exchange because of the big building that stood there, and we would walk there after the market to the cinema in the building, the Grand Electric. Note, not the Grand Central of your feature.

We often had to queue for the “second house”, which was very popular, and this was of course long before the days of television.

Adult admission was fourpence, sixpence or ninepence in old money!

Before every performance a man walked round spraying disinfectant, and the cheap front seats were separated by a high fence which crossed the hall.

The films were all black and white, and the only sound was occasionally provided by a piano.

I visited the cinemas mentioned many times, and there were several more in and around the city. Across the road, down Upper Westgate, there was the Playhouse. The building is still there and is a night club. The Regal in Kirkgate, at Sun Lane, came early 1930s, and about a hundred yards further down was the Empire, much older.

There was a cinema along Stanley Road, and another at Belle Vue by the Rugby Ground. Further afield there was Horbury, Outwood and Stanley. Probably a dozen in all.

The advent of television sadly led to the closure of all these cinemas. At the time, many became bingo halls. In my own opinion, there was far more interest then. Films told a straight uncluttered story, and the actors were really stars who had earned their nomination.

Colin Newsome

Cumbian Way