Memories of the old Kinema

PUBLISHED: 12:49 04 September 2008 | UPDATED: 14:23 10 May 2010

OUT of curiosity, as an ex-resident of Great Dunmow, I decided to check out what is happening in Dunmow these days and came across an article in the Dunmow Broadcast dated February 14, 2008 that caught my attention. The article related to the old cinema w

OUT of curiosity, as an ex-resident of Great Dunmow, I decided to check out what is happening in Dunmow these days and came across an article in the Dunmow Broadcast dated February 14, 2008 that caught my attention.

The article related to the old cinema which was called the Kinema. You asked at the end of the article if anyone had any memories or photos of the Kinema and though I am probably too late now to rekindle any further readership interest in the subject, I thought nevertheless perhaps you may like to hear of my memories of the Kinema.

I was a resident between 1955 and 1966 at the children's home in New Street (The Old Manse), and it was a regular treat for us youngsters to be able to walk along the alley way to the Kinema.

I think it was usually on a Friday evening, though I am not certain about the day or the frequency of 'Pictures' night. I remember admission was nine pence which over the years reached the princely fee of one shilling and three pence.

In those days the programme consisted of a 'B' movie followed by the main film which was divided by the Pathe News in between. You got your money's worth! Also in those days one wasn't ejected after the programme had ended so those patrons with no other agenda could get to see the complete programme twice on the days of more than one showing.

We loved the trip to the Kinema, for us beleaguered kids it was a welcome temporary relief from the strict discipline of the children's home and our own emotional hang-ups, we had a lot of fun.

One particular vivid memory has always remained with me; a trip to the Kinema that almost cost me my life.

It must have been about 1957 (I would have been seven years old) the year of the release of that most amazing of films The Bridge on the River Kwai.

I was sitting in the front row completely absorbed in this 'war film', always the favourite genre for me at that time, rather foolishly sucking on a 'gobstopper'.

At some critical and exciting point in the film this sweet, colour-changing ball became lodged in my throat and I found myself desperately fighting for breath being carried out of the theatre to the foyer.

The next memory is of a man thumping me on the back. This must have dislodged the gobstopper and I was escorted back to my seat to enjoy the rest of the film none the worse for my near-death experience.

Strange how some events remain deeply engraved upon ones memory. The 'Kinema', small by today's standards, whitewashed walls, with the ticket to the right upon entry, dark and at times rather cold, with worn-out seats, has been an important part of my life during a significant era and I am grateful for it.

Now much older and wiser, living near Colchester, 31 years of blissful marriage with two married sons and a granddaughter later, it has been good to reminisce a little thanks to my brief visit to your website.

John Millbank

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