Sunday, 15 May 2011

Empire and Palace "Flicks" and chips cost a tanner...

(Please click over photos to enlarge  (Top left and second down on right are Empire photos from the 60s, the top right is the Empire during the 30s. The second down on the right is a old photo of the Palace Cinema, long before it became Fletcher and Hunton. The photo at the bottom is of the old vicarage which was a predecessor to the Empire.
Are you going flicks on Saturday? But most would probably say, Are you going to pictures. I actually can’t remember anyone saying “Are you going to the Cinema”…………..
Saturday afternoon (Matinees) where always the favourite for youngsters with the weekly episodes of Flash Gordon.

Are you sitting in the usual seats this week, the one and sixpennies at the back (or the first two rows at the very front) or the two bobs at the front, and if you were taking your lass out maybe you would go for the two and sixpennies which lie about half way back and here you had a lot posher more comfortable seat (better upholstered) than the cheaper seats.
There again if you where hard up that week you could always go on the bob (shilling) bench at the back of the pictures just below where the projectionist was operating….
Tony Hoyle along with his mother, ran the show at the Empire, they were very strict, but very fair with everyone, and very well respected. Occasionally you would see one of them walking down the aisles with their torches and shining it down on someone and telling them to “keep quiet” and if they carried on talking after that and Tony had to come to them once more, he would then ask them to leave.

I do believe the Hoyle’s also owned the other pictures in the town, which was called the “Palace” and was in Beaconsfield Street (now Fletcher & Hunton Furnishings). I did go to this place a couple of times, but can’t remember it too clear. They also ran the Duke of Wellington pub on Grane Road.
As time went on, the flicks also was a great place for some of us to do our courting and the Empire was the place where we would take our lasses out too, once or twice a week, and then on the way home would call off at chippy for a bag of chips wrapped up in a outer sheath of old newspaper made into a bag and all this would cost a “tanner” (sixpence), and it was and had been this price for many a year.
Then all of a sudden there came a shortage of spuds, or that’s the story we got, and the chippies all had to start using new potatoes and so they said they had to put up the price of the chips accordingly, but no one seemed to worried at the time because they did promise to bring the price down again once the shortage had passed by!
They never did! and that was the start of the rising prices at the chippy….. those days it was only one and sixpence for fish and chips (or a bob and a tanner)..
Some used to bring in to chippy their porcelain bowls and would get pie and pies, or steak pudding and peas or some just a plain “mixture” (chips and peas)………

1700hrs 16th May 2011 added: (kindly sent in by Clifford Hargreaves)

I have been reading about The Empire Cinema on your blog which brought back many memories. There used to be two "houses " on a Saturday night , I think the first was about 6pm and the second about 8.30pm. I can also remember going to the cinemas in Rawtenstall, The Picture House on Bacup Road and the Pavilion in the centre. I had 8d spending money on a Saturday afternoon 4d for a quarter of Horners Cream Toffee,2d return on the bus to Rawtenstall and 2d admission to the cinema.
Kind regards,

1540hrs 16th May 2011 added:
3 photos kindly sent in by Ken Stott of the Stott & Vizzard shop which was on Blackburn Road - also now included in "Blackburn Road Blog" and also under "photo album" in left window pane.....

26th September 2013 added:
On the Empire - Palace Flicks and Chips cinema photos No. 3, outside the Empire are two young men walking past an A35 Van. It's a green one.
How do I know? it belonged to my father and the full registration number Is NCW 848. He lent it to me in 1966 to take my family on a camping  holiday in Great Yarmouth
John R Edwards.

13th June 2014 added: 
Hi Bryan,
The old Woolworth's Store on Bank Street was originally the Health Office.
The Coop Bank after closing was a slipper works called Shoe Findings.

Who remembers the daring robbery at the Coop Bank one Sunday morning.
The robbery was seen taking place by young Hopkinson who was peering though a window and who promptly went to the Police Station to tell the bobby.
Unfortunately, the police did not believe Hopkinson and it wasn't until Monday when staff arrived that they realized their mistake.

The towns two cinemas, Palace and Empire.  In the Palace the cheap seats were at the front with the dearer seats at the back divided by a row of paneling.
Whilst in the Empire the cheap seats were at the back with two rows of benches, extremely cheap and the dearer seats at the front again divided by a row of paneling.
The benches were 7 pence and the seats 1 shilling. in front of the paneling the seats were 1/3p and 2/3p. Harry Britland worked for many years at the Palace as an usher and Mr Black at the Empire.
Two house on a Saturday night 6:30 and 8:30 local shops stayed open until the second house started.  Jonny Drivers newsagents did a good trade not only with confection and cigarettes but with the Pink Special a pink sporting edition from the Evening Telegraph.  The Beaconsfield Street chippy did a good trade after both houses turned out. 
It was also funny to see a call out flashed onto the screen for any part time firemen who were in the cinema to go as the siren was sounding to request their attendance at the station, they needed at least 4 men to turn out.  On that score, whatever happened to the magnificent open fire engine Haslingden had, which was called Merryweather or it was the make Merryweather.
Michael Mullaney

28th June 2014 added: (from David White)

Dave White here, Just read your column in the free press about going to the pictures very good, the chippy was Danny Rudges top of prinney hill ,we use to come out of the pictures before the national anthem and run like hell to danny's the last one in had to pay for all the suppers .
 Then one night Tony Hoyle stopped us in the aisle and made us stand still and straight for the Queen .Happy Days  .
           Best Regards          
                          Dave White  .

28th June 2014 added:  (from Alan Papworth)

Hi Bryan 
Just a line  to say how much my wife Jean & I enjoyed your article about the 2 cinemas.  While I was doing my National service in the RAF in Egypt between March 52 & May 53 Jean (then my girl friend), took an evening job as Usherette at the Empire so we had a particular interest in your article.  We look forward to future articles. 
Regards  Alan  

1st July 2014 added: (from John R. Edwards)
In the distant past when children could 'safely' play out all day, me and Jack Harris spent a lovely summer's evening (weren't they all?) playing with model cars on a sand pile in Tommy Tattersall's yard, which was between Manchester Rd. and Salisbury St.
Time past and the Palace Cinema 2nd house show finished, as the patrons walked past towards the Commercial, some of them who knew us said that the Police were looking for us, as we were missing!! Just before the film finished, there had been a flash card projected onto the screen asking patrons to look out for us.
So off we went home to find a policeman waiting who asked us where we had been all night, it was 10:15pm. We had not noticed the lateness of the hour, but were duly punished for our enjoyable evening.
John R Edwards


We would race with excitement,
And frightened to miss “Flash Gordon”
matinee at the Empire was something else!
But you had to behave or Mr. Hoyle
Would throw the “mighty beam” on ya.
And usually followed up with “keep quiet”
If I have to come again “you will be asked to leave”.
(Wow!! Just how polite!)

Years of absence went by, but soon the mighty Empire
Was called upon yet again, with even more importance!
It did not really matter what was “Headlining the Borough News”
Any film would have done this time around!
Good evening Sir (addressed by Mr. Hoyle, and replied,
Hello Tony!  (more casual with advancement of years)

So this next period was “Flicks”, courting, and a tanner of chips!
Up to three nights a week, but can’t remember titles of films!
It was more of a question can I afford a two bob seat or,
Shall I splash out and go in posh two and sixpennies!
You had to make sure you had a girlfriend who paid her way,
if you fancied all that posh stuff! (maybe twice a year treat!)
Or if you were paying you would need to go in one and sixpennies
Or sometimes could have been on “bob" bench” right at back.

It was a mad dash when pictures finished,
Who could get across Ratcliffe Fold first,
And into Danny Rudge’s for chip shop at Prinny Hill.
Proper chips in a bag with a “newspaper wraparound”
Only sixpence and best chips you had ever tasted,
I'm sure it's wasnt all "rose tinted" 

Empire is not around for “twilight” years but!
One thing for sure “it will never be forgotton”.
Thanks to our mighty "Empire" and also
to Tony and Mrs. Hoyle

 (Poem by Bryan Yorke on 18th Nov 2017)