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History of the Astoria cinema

The texts below were written by the children of Downs Junior School for the ‘Schoolkids Tour’ of Brighton in the ‘My Brighton’ exhibit. They researched the Astoria because an ex-pupil of the school had told them about a bomb being dropped near the cinema in the Second World War.

The opening of the Astoria cinema in 1933
Bombing in the Second World War
Bombing in the Second World War (continued)

Comments about this page

  • Very interesting. I had heard the story from the old chief projectionist from the Astoria! Kind regards Colin (Chairman, Astoria Moving Picture Trust)

    By Colin Dibley (04/12/2003)
  • The full story together with photographs can be found in “The Brighton Blitz” by David Rowland, and the chief projectionist at the time was a Mr Fred Warner.

    By John Wall (02/04/2004)
  • I remember from childhood an uncle’s history about the Astoria and such a Mr Sadler. Did anybody know about who he was? (1937 aprox.)

    By Jon Little (20/05/2004)
  • I was the Assistant Manager of both the Astoria and the Savoy in the fifties. I knew Fred Warner, the Astoria’s Chief, and held him in high regard. Mr Sadler was Alf Sadler or rather Alderman A.J. Sadler, a former Mayor of Brighton. He was at the Astoria to start with, and then spent his later years as Manager of the Savoy. I was his assistant for a year or two.

    By Michael Williams (10/08/2004)
  • I was very interested to read Mr Michael Williams’ comments regarding Mr Alf Sadler, as I believe he is a great great uncle of mine that I have been researching. Anyone who can help please contact me on above.

    By Christine Grantham (03/02/2005)
  • I am the stepdaughter of Alan C Thirlaway who was assistant manager at the Astoria with Alf Sadler and ‘Chic Fowl’. I remember Saturday Morning Minors with Uncle Alan, fancy dress competion, playing the organ. I can find photos of parties etc if anyone is interested. Alan was also at the Granada in Hove and the Savoy. I remember the Mills family living in the flat above.

    By Diane Webb (nee Nixon) (Thirlaway) (06/08/2007)
  • In 1963 I went on holiday to Brighton with my father. We went to see Mutiny on the Bounty at the Astoria, which was showing in 70mm with six track sound. The seperation of the sound was fantastic, a sound would come from the left or right and you would turn your head and then realise it was the soundtrack. The projection equipment at that time was Philips DP70 dual gauge projectors, 35mm/70mm. I believe a Mr Ted Jempson, who sadly is no longer with us was one of the projectionists. I have fond memories of several Brighton cinemas including The Academy where we went to see Lawrence of Arabia, showing in 35mm with four track magnetic sound.

    By David A Ellis (16/05/2008)
  • The main thing I remember about the Astoria as a child was the width and depth of the place. It would take ages to walk from one side to another, cinema at its best.

    By David Sanders (24/06/2008)
  • I saw Towering Inferno there, but I cannot remember the year.

    By Joe Reid (04/09/2009)
  • I used to live on Ewart Street as a child and would go to the saturday morning pictures there- it was great. I’m sure I saw a film called “Earthquake” there too and they made it seem like the cinema shook. Could anyone confirm this please?

    By Paul Lagadec (04/11/2009)
  • Hi Paul, you’re right about ‘Earthquake’ and the ‘shock’ effects at The Astoria. The process was called ‘Sensurround’. I remember it well; it was around 1974 or 1975.

    By Nick Phillips (07/09/2010)
  • I remember the Astoria in the 60s, as my girlfriend’s father, Bryan Heasman, was the projectionist and we went often. I remember particularly the film 2001: A space odyssey and the effect of the psychedelic sequence. Bryan went on to manage Bingo Halls and then the Fishersgate pub. Sadly I believe he died some years ago

    By Peter Wrapson (22/12/2010)

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