Compaired to some of the memories written by fellow projectionists my memories are quite dull. After entering the projection box at the Granada Dartford in Kent on September 18th 1970 as a rewind boy, just turned 16 on Septemer 16th, the cinema was showing Le Mansin 4 track mag so I wasn’t even allowed to rewind anything other than the ads and second feature (sorry cant remember what). The cimema was equiped with two Phillips FP 7s and peerless arcs and a pretty reliable projectormatic Westrex valve amps but later after a couple of years training under a great chief ( Scotty Bratten ), ex chief at Granada Sidenham, taught me how to be a good projectionist, and in my book thats simply attention to detail, keeping a clean box, check check and check again – his moto was any fool can slap a film on screen but a master keeps it there time and time again.I left Granada for ABC cinemas in 1975 fully trained as a senior projectionist ready to take on the ABC Bexleyheath, wow what a cinema, run by a friend, I now sadly miss, one of the greatest chiefs I’ve ever known, Arthur Cockburn, a true master of the art of showmanship. While other cinemas where running used dirty and run down prints we at Bexleyheath were running new prints be it 35mm mag or, where my memories really start running a projectionist dream, 70mm prints cinema classics like Ben Hur, Where Eagles Dare, King of Kings even the 70mm blow up print of Earthquake,/i> on the huge screen. It looked and sounded superb with our Philips transitorised sound system to see our screen open up from 21 by 16.6 inches to a massive 64 by 21.6 inches was a sight to see. Running on my favouite mechs the Philips DP 75 a pair with 6000 foot spools 8 inch cores with matching peerless arcs in a metalic brown. Never seen matching colour equipment before or since, it was a projectionist dream full manual operation – total control over presentation, again Arthur was the master and I learnt so much from him.
Shortly after his forced early retirement, he passed away from a broken heart over his treatment from ABC and I thought I was gromed for his position, but it wasn’t to be. The new chief was a screwdriver merchant and I left in discust. After a stint in a preview theatre at Green Park London for CIC Paramount/Universal, I returned to ABC as a relief chief before my chance for glory to be chief of the Commodore Orpington in Kent – bad move I lasted 3 months, totaly without support from Shipman and King or the manager. No staff other than a part time postman and a BBC projectionist who would come in to give me a day off, so came out of the industy in 1978.
After visiting many cimemas on my days off and my relief expirience, I thought it was all over as for the last 23 years I took on other jobs, but the dream never left me, it was eating away at me, and this coming Sunday 22nd September I will be starting again thanks to the chief projectionist Steve Grimley at the Odeon Richmond in Surrey, so a new beginning for me with digital sound. The equipment just as I left 23 years ago, cake stands, smaller boxes, but can still make my mark as a good projectionist and be the showman I once was.
Wish me luck