Saturday flicks brough delight

CINEMAS packed with excited children on a Saturday morning were a regular feature until the 1960s when television took over.

CINEMAS packed with excited children on a Saturday morning were a regular feature until the 1960s when television took over.

Hundreds of children would make their own way into the Ipswich town centre to rush along to their favourite cinema to watch a programme of cartoons and stories of the American wild-west with wagon trains being attacked. There was always a “cliff hanger” serial to get the boys and girls back the next Saturday.

Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy films from decades before were also still popular. Children would shout and cheer at the screen as the action unfolded. The children were also very vocal if the film broke!

During a break in the films thousands of ice lollies were purchased and boys in the circle delighted in making a “flying saucer” with the discarded wooden lolly sticks launching them onto those in the stalls.


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Each cinema had its own club with gifts for those with a birthday. Also a “magic mirror” would shine the spotlight on to the children who would go on to the stage to get a prize.

Terry Blake, of Annbrook Close, Ipswich, has amusing memories of playing the piano at the Odeon Cinema, Lloyds Avenue, Ipswich, at the Saturday Morning Children's Club.

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Terry said: “After the war and a period in the armed forces I returned to “civvy street” and was asked to play the piano for a short period of singing prior to the children's Saturday morning film show at the Odeon. On my arrival at the cinema the place was full of excited children waiting impatiently for the film show to start and I got the impression that the last thing they wanted was to sing a few songs with some chap sitting playing a piano, which had seen better days and may have been rescued from Ipswich dock!

“The words of each song had been scratched out on a slide to be projected on to the screen. The slides were similar to the slides that, during World War Two, were used to warn of an air raid. “Buttons and Bows” was a favourite song. For some unknown reason the person showing the slides would never tell me which songs had been selected let alone the order in which they would be shown! One Saturday morning a completely new song was shown and I was craning my neck to read the first two lines to bring to mind the tune, which was not easy being so close to the screen. It only took a few seconds, but even that short delay was met by whistles and foot stamping of impatience to get on with it from the children in the audience and through it all a voice shouted “don't you know it mister?”. Well “mister” did eventually know it and I played it. I think I got eleven shillings, less tax, for the pleasure, happy days indeed!”

- Do you have any memories to share of Saturday morning pictures? Write to Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail info@kindred-spirit.co.uk

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