The Stretford Essoldo Cinemas final week, memories from 46 years ago

In October 2011, the Longford Cinema, Essoldo, Lucky 7 bingo, Rank Bingo or ‘that building on Chester Road’ will be 75 years old.

It screened its last film 46 years ago and some of those working at the Essoldo still remember that last week well. Nigel remembers this last week because he started work as a trainee projectionist on the Monday and the cinema closed the following Sunday! “It was the shortest job I ever had. During the last week the film showing was The Hill  however, on the last day we showed one of the Quatermass films.  My friend Jim, the chief projectionist was annoyed that it was the last film, he would have preferred a bigger film.” After work Nigel, then aged 16 and Jim would finish work with a drink at the Talbot Arms where he had his first pint!

Not much is known about what happened to Jim, but he is still referred to as something of a legend in the cinemas history! One person who remembers Jim well is Derrick. Derrick’s dad Robert was the Essoldos’ manager at the time it closed. His mum ran the cafe and along with his sister Linda and they all lived in a flat on the side of the building! Derrick recalls, “In my last year at school, around 1964, I used to rush home from school and up to the projection box and help (unpaid of course) the chief projectionist Jim put the evening shows on. I was never out of the place”. Jim stayed on at the Essoldo for a few years during the bingo days and Derick used to help out sometimes, “I remember, in my spare time, helping Jim install and wire up long banks of fluorescent fittings beneath the canopy following the cinema closure and prior to the bingo opening. I lodged with him and his then wife a couple of years later, around 1967/68, when my parents moved back down south.” Derick stayed in the cinema business and later on even came back to manage the Essoldo / Bingo building himself before buying and operating the Curzon Cinema in Urmston for many years.

Derricks sister Linda (are you still following the family tree!) also remembers that last week and the changes that followed. “I have happy memories of taking friends in to watch films, and going home for dinner from Gorse Park School to the cafe in the cinema that mum ran. It’s funny really, I don’t remember any fuss it was like it went from cinema to bingo just like that.  My dad Robert did not get on at all well with the man who came to oversee the change over at the Essoldo! I can remember seeing roulette tables in the big foyer and the changes to the stage, I think some of the seating was changed so there were tables, and as you went in where you used to buy your cinema tickets was all different and there were loads of slot machines”.

Stretfords Essoldo Cinema in the 1960s

Stretfords Essoldo Cinema in the 1960s - You can just make out manager Robert Moss standing in the doorway!

After about a year of managing the building as a bingo hall, the Moss Family (minus Derrick!), moved to the south of England where Robert took up a post with another cinema. The buildings cinema days were truly over. Jim had moved on, Nigel joined the army and Derrick took up projectionist work in Manchester city centre.

But what has become very clear is that the memories are still very much there. This website is here to collect and share memories. The surnames of the people in this item have been removed, but if you knew them, worked at or visited the cinema towards the end, have a memory you’d like to share or can fill in any of the gaps, please leave your thoughts below by clicking on ‘leave a comment’.

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4 responses to “The Stretford Essoldo Cinemas final week, memories from 46 years ago

  1. I moved to Stretford from Urmston in 1962 and i have a vague memory of seeing a Film at the Essoldo. All through the rest of my school days I passed it on my way to school every day, and even used to peek in after it was closed (very naughty). I had no idea it was still there, after all this time, having moved away in the 70’s.

    Strange long lost ephemeral memories seeing it again here.

    Thanks
    S

  2. It was part of our life, both as a cinema and as a bingo hall, I remember my Mum and aunties going to Rank and my Dad had a few big wins there before nipping in the Talbot across the road. They used to show some good films back in the day, Wizard of Oz, Quo Vadis….Carry On Cleo 😉

    I hope it opens up again soon…a roller rink would be good.

  3. when l was a kid on Trafford grove Stretford ,l used to go there to the Saturday afternoon matinee .l watched the film HELP the beatles there …and Mary Poppins …hope it opens soon ,its a waste being shut all this time …linda Perkins from Stretford …

  4. Lovely story and one hopes this is not the end. One of my personal memories is that of going to see live performances there. The Doyley Carte presentations of Gilbert and Sullivan drew a strong audience and it was sad this aspect didn’t continue. For all the theatre’s history it is hoped that the building can be preserved in some new way and keep the link from past to present alive.

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