From cinema to shoe factory – the changing face of Portsmouth

COMMENT: Losing these highly-skilled workers is a major concern

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Spookily, I’m writing about losing my shoe fairies near the date when the Art Deco building was opened in 1936.

I’m talking about The Troxy Cinema in Fratton Road, folks.

It was opened on December 8, 1936, used as a furniture store between 1941 and 1946, reopened as a cinema, and then closed in 1962.

It then became a bingo hall and ,in recent years, United Footwear, a discount shoe outlet.

As a youngster my gran would take me to The Troxy. How I marvelled at the Art Deco interior.

Years later my cousin took me to a bingo night there.

And in the past few years I’ve bought many a bargain – shoes, boots etc from the shoe factory, as we call it.

After Christmas United Footwear will shut down, everything is being reduced, so if you want to grab a bargain, get down there soon.

While I was surfing the internet looking for photos of The Troxy Cinema, I came across music sites.

One of them was The Cooper Allen Music Archive – music of Portsmouth 1947.

Boy, did this city rock back then!

There were dozens of music dates throughout the year in venues such as Oddfellows Hall, The Co-op Club and South Parade Pier ( SPP).

Driving past SPP now, fenced off and closed, it’s hard to believe that in its heyday of the 1940s and ’50s, it hosted dance evenings with top big bands and orchestras of the day – Victor Sylvester, Ted Heath and Joe Loss.

And what about Felix Mendelssohn and his Hawaiian Serenaders, or Nancarrow’s Augmented String Orchestra?

Anyway, there’s an uproar in this city about SPP and the eyesore it has become.

On Tuesday I popped in to see Linzi at Southsea Rock in Marmion Road to get some more fabulous Christmas cards.

In the window was a ‘Save the Pier’ fundraising calendar by the South Parade Trust/ The People’s Pier.

They’ve taken paintings in the style of Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol etc and threaded a picture of SPP through it. It’s brilliant.

So people, if you want to see the pier restored, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. On sale at £10 from Southsea Rock.