Memories of one of Portsmouth’s top cinemas

Former Southsea Odeon page boy Ronald Mears amid the rubble of the demolished building.
Former Southsea Odeon page boy Ronald Mears amid the rubble of the demolished building.

The demolition of the Odeon in Southsea – later known as the Salon – brought back memories for the cinema’s first page boy. 

Ronald Mears, of Haslar Crescent, Waterlooville, had his first job there when the cinema opened in 1938, at the age of 16, and was sad to read in The News of its demise. 

Born and bred in the Portsmouth area, Ronald, a retired gas engineer, said: ‘It’s the end of an era. When I started working there were about 20 cinemas in the district. Now there are only four.’ 

For the princely sum of 15 shillings a week, Ronald greeted patrons, took their coats and occasionally acted as the ‘chocolate boy’. 

‘Among the cinemas there was the Apollo, the Classic, and Victoria Hall. I particularly remember the Theatre Royal because they projected the film from behind the screen, instead of on to it,' said Ronald. 

He felt that technology, in the shape of videos and televisions, was killing the cinema industry.

‘But it will never die completely as films on the large screen always seem more alive than on a tiny TV set,’ he added.