I received an email during the week, in response to my newsletter – 8th March 2015:
…….which mentions Pedigree Jazz Band’s special tribute to much-loved Acker Bilk, who passed away 2nd November 2014 (and must surely be with that very special band in the sky). The number was ‘Blaze Away’. [I remember singing a version of this number at our Saturday morning pictures at the ABC Plaza at Catford back in late 40’s! What fun that was. I felt sorry for the man who had to open the doors to let us kids in – he had to quickly stand back against the wall behind the door – or be trampled upon – flattened – ha!].
Hi Diane, Well, well, well, would you believe it, I used to live in Catford and every Saturday morning went to the Plaza for the children’s show so we were there together – what a coincidence. Just been reading about your exploits and Blaze Away. Do you remember going up on the stage when it was your birthday and everyone singing to you? I used to go to the Hippodrome as well and sit on a cushion up in the gods, and later on I actually worked in the Hippodrome when they changed it to offices.
It’s a very small world.
Love Joyful xxxx
Oh yes Joyful, I remember the birthdays too. I was one of four children in my family and we would each take it in turns to ‘have a birthday’ every other week (so over eight weeks). Of course, you got in for free the following week! Naturally, everyone would scream out that we had already had a birthday recently. I wonder if Acker was an ABC member too.
Do you recall the huge black cat who ‘owned’ Catford and lived at The Lewisham Hippodrome (situated in Catford)? First he would sit at the sweet counter until we were all inside. Then he would join us inside, walking over everyone’s lap, hoping for some more goodies to eat (he would especially love ice cream) and then, he would walk across the veranda, so his shadow would be up on the screen – oh yes, I’m sure he knew what he was doing – ha. The Hippodrome became the Eros Cinema.
AND what about the Queens Cinema, next door – that was what we called ‘the gods’! You accessed it round the side and to the back of the building. It had hard bench seats (slabs of wood actually), slanting downwards, so your whole body was almost lying down (slanting) and the screen was beyond your feet! I can remember the old boy who had us queuing up. Always seemed bad tempered (but probably us kids, were too rowdy and over-excited at going to the pictures, so can you blame him). He had a glass eye, was a bit hunched and very short, quite frightening, although was probably a nice old boy (probably not even old), but when you are little, your imagination works overtime aye?
I also remember the Park Cinema at Hither Green. I recall seeing my first ever film there, called ‘The Boy with the Green Hair’ starring Dean Stockwell (1949). A fantastic film about prejudice. Because of our memories, I looked up this cinema and found out it has just been saved from being made into flats – well done the Hither Green Community Society.
Another cinema we frequented was the ol’ Splendid Cinema at Downham Way (we would walk to all of these cinemas too!). One of us would pay to go in and then we would all bunk in through the side door (about six or seven of us) AND we were (I promise) such lovely and good kids too.
I mustn’t forget to mention two other cinemas, one being The Gaumant Palace, which became The Odeon Cinema in Lewisham. I saw many stars on the stage, one very memorable one being Nat King Cole (oh what a memory) I think about 1962, my programme has no date! The other being The Rex, such a lovely quaint and friendly place. I think was privately run. I know there are more cinemas, but these are the ones I recall most memorably. Any responses?
Love Di xxx