Westhoughton History Society (WH-95-194)

Poster for Much Ado About Nothing and The Man Behind the Statue at the Manchester Opera House, 1946. (Rylands Collection)

In April 1995, Cinema Culture in 1930s Britain contacted the Westhoughton History Society in Bolton, Greater Manchester, seeking potential participants in the project (Westhoughton is a town in the Borough of Bolton). Society members took part in three interviews: on 9 May 1995, five members were interviewed as a group, with three of these giving second interviews later that month. The group interview participants were: Harry Ackers, husband of WHS Secretary Phyllis Ackers, Lois Basnett, Ada Bellis, Bert (Herbert) Partington and another female informant whose name and details are unrecorded. Lois Basnett and Bert Partington, who had become a couple a few years earlier, subsequently gave a joint interview; and Ada Bellis was interviewed on her own. The second interviews took place on 30 May 1995.

Members of the Westhoughton History Society share memories of the town's two cinemas, one of which began life as a roller skating rink, and proceed to consider Bolton's various 'classes' of cinema and the types of programming on offer. The high-profile activities of the local Watch Committee with regard to Sunday opening of cinemas and regulating and certificating films are debated. The cinema billboards advertising the week's films that graced shop fronts in town--and the free tickets shopkeepers received in return--are remembered. A general feeling is expressed that films seemed to take a very long time to reach Bolton after their general release. Early picturegoing memories are highlighted: projector breakdowns, attendants failing to keep rowdy audiences in order, disinfectant sprays. The mighty organ at Bolton's supercinema is remembered, as are the double seats for courting couples in another local picture house, and the cheap seats behind the cinema screen in yet another.