Our picture earlier this week of the Essoldo cinema on the corner of Eastney Road and Devonshire Avenue, Eastney, sparked memories for Tony King. He recalls it well having lived in Devonshire Avenue from 1940 until 1957.
He remembers when it changed from the Electric Theatre to The Regal, although it had a less than complimentary nickname. ‘It was often referred to by the rude sobriquet of The Bug Hutch and sometimes even less politely as the Itch and Scratch,’ he says.
Tony adds: ‘In the latter days of the war there used to be a young chap employed by the cinema manager to keep us rowdy youngsters in order when we were queueing. I think his name was Dougie.
‘I used to watch every episode I could of the Flash Gordon serial and as this was more often than not coupled with an A film it wasn’t easy to get in.
‘Along with other hopeful fans I used to hang around the door importuning adult patrons to ‘‘take us in, mister’’, and once inside I would scurry off to be with my friends.
‘When out of funds some youngsters would gain access via the toilet and staff would turf out any who couldn’t produce a valid ticket.’