Mike Conrad and Paul Lloyd share their respective memories of going to the Rialto and Granada Upper Norwood cinemas at 25 Church Road
“My family just want a cinema back, full stop.” writes Mike Conrad, local artist and campaigner
Born in a nursing home (now a fire station) on Knights Hill in May 1933 I have lived in Norwood all my life and from a very early age was a devotee of the Cinema. The Saturday morning cinema at the Rialto was a great treat and not to be missed. If you hadn’t got the money to get in you waited until a paying friend had opened the fire exit. Behaviour was very boisterous but accepted by management. Serials made being there the following week essential and at times one felt desperate if funds were low. Later I became addicted to main stream cinema and many the time I stood in the entrance asking a friendly looking couple, “can you take me in please”. Another aspect of early cinema was the interval live entertainment. One of these was Zodiac exponent who enthralled me. I bought a book of my birth sign and later was troubled to read of a future full of doom. Then I realised that I had bought a the wrong birth sign. Relief. There ended my interest in the subject.
Today I would love to have a cinema back in Norwood. We go to Streatham and the Ritzy in Brixton but to be able to walk to the cinema and give some business to a local restaurant afterwards would be total satisfaction.The church group have done a very sympathetic conversion of the cinema but what they are offering is a fudge. My family just want a cinema back, full stop.
Mike Conrad is a local artist and campaigner, a founder member of the Crystal Palace Community Association and designer of the book ‘Crystal Palace Norwood Heights’ which can be found in Bookseller Crow on the Hill when in publication. Cards of Mike’s drawings and paintings are on sale exclusively at the Upper Norwood Joint Library and contribute to library funds.
“God is a DJ and he says he wants a cinema.” Paul Lloyd, DJ and dad
I, like many other kids in the 60’s, attended Saturday morning flicks. As has already been noted, it was a rowdy affair but it was the thrill of anticipation for when one of the favourite weekly features came on. There would always be split camps, of course no fun without a bit of tribalism. My mum or one of my family friends would always be there to pick us up, usually Bill in his Austin Maxi. I would always cadge a twopenny piece (or was it sixpence, maybe a threepenny piece?) to put into the slot in the shop opposite that would activate the model railway that sat within. For reasons too personal to enter into now, my first ‘proper’ film that I went to unattended was The Jungle Book. I have bittersweet memories as it was the first time I came across bullying. I was waylaid by a bunch of lads by the cafes on the parade. That was when I realized I had a good turn of speed compared to others! My mother was away at that time and when she returned she offered to take me to the cinema as recompense for her absence. We went to see The Jungle Book with her new boyfriend!
Paul Lloyd is a local resident, dad and DJ and has lived in the area for most of his life. Paul hosts a regular RPM club, at An Tenna Caff, which is an open decks vinyl only night where you have the option to bring a few records along that you feel need an appreciative audience. Coffee, tea and alcohol available and guaranteed great company.