Memories of the 1950/60s

Duke of York's cinema
Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove

A family concern

I have special memories of the Duke of York’s; I especially remember Aunty Mabel and Tom. In the 1950s and 1960s, Mabel worked mostly in the box office and Tom did most of the cleaning. My Mum, Joan Wells, worked in the Duke of York’s as an usherette for many years. My brother Malcolm worked in the projectionist’s booth after school and on Saturdays. My Dad repaired the seats and sometimes subcontracted the work to me; at a shilling a seat. I also worked in The Chocolate Box on a Saturday morning.

Did you go to the Duke of York’s at this time?  If you can share your memories or views with us, please leave a comment below.

My mum’s funny stories

My Mum had many funny stories about the cinema. She told me that whilst a desert 3D movie was showing, she had a woman sitting in the front row who complained that the camels in the movie were kicking sand into her face, and wanted her money back! There were special double seats in the back row and all manner of amorous things took place in them. I have heard that The Dukes is the longest continuously running commercial cinema in the UK; I wonder if that is true?

Comments about this page

  • I remember the Duke of York’s well. I saw my first X-rated film there – War of the Worlds (the original). As I wasn’t 16 at this time I have vague memories of hanging around outside and waiting for a suitable candidate to take me and a pal in so they could ‘verify our age’ if asked. On another occasion I can remember holding a cigarette to ‘prove’ that I was 16 (although I have never smoked in my life). Happy days!

    By Rod Tempest (29/08/2014)
  • Re: The Dukes being the longest continuously running commercial cinema in the UK. I think that’s true Michael, not sure where it ranks in world cinema, but it must be “up there”.

    By Peter Groves (29/08/2014)
  • My memories of this cinema go way back. My Mother used to take me to see Shirley Temple films in the 1930s. 

    By Joy Hamilton (11/09/2014)
  • My father took my brothers and I to the Dukes three times a week, plus some of our friends. It was 9 pence in the front 3 rows I think. This was late 1940s and early 1950s. I also remember the double seats later in the 50s when my brother and I could afford the better seats. We saw mostly American gangster and cowboy films. But, in those pre-TV days, we watched any film that was on.

    By Ann Bonner (08/12/2014)
  • My late Mother-in-Law, Mrs Winifred Bentley, worked for years as an usherette at “The Dukes”. She sadly passed away in 1995. I recall paying 9d to sit in the front stalls in the ’50/60s. It was certainly not a flea pit and was a very popular venue which survived the bombing in the war. My grandparents lived in nearby Winchester St.

    By John Snelling (21/10/2019)
  • As kids we used to bunk in the toilet at the back and see the films through twice. This was 70 years ago!

    By Sheila Sandys (22/09/2020)

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