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.
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.”
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.