First published in the Saddleworth Independent
THE lure of Uppermill hasn’t proved much less popular during the most recent lockdown restrictions with the High Street a constant throng of people – not everyone adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Back in the day, the village ‘main drag’ had a wider array of shops and businesses including Saddleworth Picture Palace.
Opened in 1913 and finally closed in the 1950s, the Palace still holds many memories for older Independent readers.
Denise Fraser has been kind enough to share her recollections of the Palace, then located close to the current bus turning circle.
Saddleworth Palace was on site of current Warburton Court
She wrote: “As with most children born in the 1940s I spent a good deal of my leisure time going to the pictures.
“The programme at Uppermill pictures changed three times a week. There was one ‘house’ during the week and two on Saturdays at 6pm and 8.30pm.
“During the week it was 7d admission for children and one shilling for adults. On Saturdays, it was one shilling for everyone.
“Some weeks (finances and homework permitting) I would go three times.
“If there wasn’t any money, I would ask my Mum: ‘Are there any pop bottles to return for money back?’ Somehow, there always were and the pennies back paid for me to go.
“All my family used to go every Saturday to the first house. On Saturday mornings it was my job to ring up and book seats.
“When Mr. Plummer answered I would say: ‘Hello, this is Mr Fraser’s little girl speaking. Could we have our usual seats on the front row upstairs please?’
“He always replied: ‘Yes, Mr Fraser’s little girl, that’s alright’.
“Before the film started and during the interval gramophone records were played and we took our favourite records along to be played.
“Sometimes they would say in a good-natured way, ‘oh no, not this again’ – but they always played them.
“If everyone in the village had enjoyed a certain film, it would be brought back by popular demand.
“One of these was The Blue Veil starring Jane Whyman.
“If a film was in the A category, you had to be accompanied by an adult. There were always good-natured adults who answered my plea, ‘please will you take me in with you?’
“The ushers were called Harold and Annie. Annie used to stand, torch in hand, ramrod stiff in front of the screen while the National Anthem played.
“Woe betide anyone who fooled around until it finished.
“When, during a film, if any fooling around was going on the cry would go up ‘Harold’s coming down’ and the culprit froze in their seat
“When the films were over we would walk out past the long queue for the next house and be treated to 3d worth of chips from Howarth’s chippy.
“For a special treat, we went to Bill and Connie Rainford’s ‘Turog’ shop where they served egg and chips in their living room at the back of the shop.
“The cinema was the Saddleworth Palace but for all of us it was ‘the pictures’.”