Mys­tery photo brings back happy mem­o­ries of life at the Gau­mont

It was a pho­to­graph of a 1960s pop star, a brief­case and some peo­ple we didn’t know. We do now. Derek James re­ports.

Let's Talk - - MEMORIES -

Sit­ting in the wait­ing room at the den­tists can be a daunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. There was Pearl Woods, about to take her turn in the chair, when her grand-daugh­ter passed her a copy of Let’s Talk and told her there were some lovely old pho­to­graphs in it.

In­deed there was. Pearl turned a page and saw one of her­self . . .

“I couldn’t be­lieve it,” says Pearl. “It was a pic­ture which brought back so many happy mem­o­ries.”

There she was, stand­ing next to her sis­ter Yvonne, who is far right, along with their work­mates at the dear old Gau­mont Cinema (for­merly the Carl­ton) on All Saints Green in Nor­wich, op­po­site John Lewis (then Bonds).

The cinema has been de­mol­ished in the past few years, the site is be­ing re-de­vel­oped, but the mem­o­ries re­main.

“I was in my teens when that pic­ture was taken and I am 72 now, so you can work it out for your­self,” laughs the mother-of-three who has no less than 13 grand­chil­dren and two great grand­chil­dren.

Back in the swing­ing ‘60s she was work­ing in the of­fice at Southalls shoe fac­tory in Nor­wich. “We never got paid much. I needed an­other job to make ends meet and I got one as an ush­erette and ice-cream seller at the Gau­mont,” she says.

“I loved ev­ery minute of it. We were like one big fam­ily. That pic­ture is of the man­ager, Mr Hay­wood, be­ing pre­sented with a leather brief­case by the singer Joe Brown when he was leav­ing. Mr Cooke, the as­sis­tant man­ager, is also on the pic­ture.”

Then there was the door­man Mr Yal­lop, May, Blanch, Pat and ‘Brownie’.

“I re­mem­ber that when the film The Long­est Day – about D-Day – was shown we sold more Kia-Ora drinks than ever. Ev­ery­one seemed to get so thirsty. It was a very mov­ing film.”

Happy days

Mary Wy­rozyn­ski from Nor­wich heard Let’s Talk ed­i­tor Angi Kennedy talk­ing about the pho­to­graph on the Stephen Bum­frey show on BBC Ra­dio Nor­folk.

“I recog­nised the de­scrip­tion of the pic­ture with Joe Brown,” she says. “I looked through my old photos and found the orig­i­nal – I was on it but at the side that wasn’t in­cluded in the pic­ture in Let’s Talk.

“I was there with my younger sis­ter – Pat Con­verse – and her friend Muriel. We worked at the Gau­mont and the photo was taken when our man­ager Alan Hay­wood was mov­ing to a new po­si­tion. Joe Brown was the first per­son he had booked to ap­pear at the Gau­mont and so it was thought that it would be nice to have him come to his leav­ing pre­sen­ta­tion,” ex­plains Mary.

“See­ing that pic­ture re­ally evoked some mem­o­ries for me – it was in the Evening News on March 9, 1963. Work­ing at the Gau­mont was the best job I ever had: won­der­ful times and great mem­o­ries. I went there when I was 18 and fin­ished when it went over to bingo in 1972/3,” she added.

Happy mem­o­ries at the dear old Gau­mont where, apart from the films, Bill Ha­ley and The Rolling Stones raised the roof.

The puz­zle over what Joe Brown was do­ing in this photo from our archives has been solved thanks to Let’s Talk read­ers.

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