A couple of days ago I came up & did a little project. One of the jobs I had after I left school in 1952 was as a cinema projectionist. The two cinemas I worked at were the Ritz which was on Conway St., where there's a car park now, next to Argos, & the Plaza in Borough Rd. I didn't go to the site of the Ritz, but visited several others & took pics.
Attachments: Viewing Permissions May Apply. Click Me
Description: This Aldi is where the Rialto was. Just up the road from Bebington station, towards New Ferry. Description: This is where the Regal was; Bebington Rd. King's Lane is 50 yards to the left. Fairs is behind me & 50 yards to my left.
Good Saturday matinées here.Description: The Regent, on Church Rd., Tranmere,to the left of the Black Horse. The top of Well Lane is 50 yards to the right.Description: The Plaza was next to the Kingsland dance hall, where the builder's yard is. I'm standing in Harrowby Rd. Description: A close-up of the only remaining bit of the Plaza. The pink wall with stacks of bricks next to it. There's a 5 foot gap between that wall & the Kingsland; used to keep my bike there. Projection room was on this wall & the screen was to the right.Description: This was the Savoy in Argyle St. Description: The Gaumont, bottom of Park Rd. East. You can see the main park entrance in the pic.
The Ritz was opened by Gracie Fields in 1937, the year I was born. It closed in 1969.
These weren't the only cinemas in town, but they were the main ones. The Ritz & Plaza had Wurlitzer organs, which rose from a pit & were played during the interval.
At that time, the programme would consist of the main feature, a second short feature (what we in the trade called a 2 reeler) & a newsreel & trailers for forthcoming films. The programme always finished with playing of "God Save the King" & it was very rude not to stand for this, or to leave before it finished.
While I was at the Plaza, we were converted for Cinemascope, with a wide screen & extra lenses, called Anamorphics, to expand the film, which was standard 35mm. but had been compressed during filming. These lenses were swung in front of the standard lens when a Cinemascope film was shown. Surround sound too!!
There was quite a skill in maintaining correct illumination on the screen. The light source was carbon arc & you had to keep the carbons correcty adjusted, or the screen would go brown on one side & blue on the other.