Category Archives: Customer & employee memories

More Top Rank staff pictures



Top Rank staff photos and Coronation Street signing

Thanks again to the kind person who sent these in via Facebook. They feature in many of these photos!   From Ladbrokes to Rank, another refit and the prize shop moves from the inner foyer to the stage. Mid 80s?

  Staff party in the final staff uniforms. Photo in Buffet.   Who needs Muhammad Ali at Stretford Arundale flogging Ovaltine at Tescos when you can have Lynne Perrie at Stretford Top Rank Bingo flogging her autograph!

Ladbrokes days interior pictures 

More fantastic pictures submitted from a Facebook user. Late 70s, early 80s, the user think the photos were taken as part of a refit from the Ladbrokes ownership (1965-1986), maybe it was a special event to mark the occasion, hence the brass band? The man featured in one of the pictures is Jim Pass, the last chief projectionist when the building closed as a cinema in 1965 who stayed on for some time as an engineer with the building in its new format before moving on. These are some of the best historical colour interior pictures unearthed to date!   


Celebrating 30 years of bingo in Stretford!

2 great pictures sent in to the Facebook group. Mother and daughter employees celebrating 30 years of bingo in the building. Can’t have been much longer after this was taken that the place was closed as there was only 32 years between the last film being shown and the doors closing for good!

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’.

Family memories / Family Business

These family photos have kindly been provided by Linda Thompson / nee Moss, whose father Robert was the last manager of the Essoldo whilst it was a cinema. Her mum used to run the cafe and they all used to live in one of the flats on the side of the building! Linda’s brother followed suit, working his way through various cinemas, ending up as assistant manager of the Essoldo then buying the Curzon. If you have any of your own photos or remeber anyone in the photos, let us know!

Ron McCormick remebers…

1. I’m 80
2. Finest cinema ever built.
3. Saw Tudor Rose there.
4. My late sister-in law worked in the box office.
5. The lights failed in an amateur operatic show in the late thirties
6. I accompanied my father to see his favourite film stars–Sonja Henie,Deanna Durbin.
7. My mother and I used to eat scollops on the way home from the Longford purchased from the chip shop opposite Stretford Baths.
8. Everyone in the cinema was crying when Will Fyffe shot his dog at the end of “Owd Bob”
9. As children we could never get in to see “H” (horror) films10I remember the applause for the Prince of Wales in the cinema.
11. I remember the cheers in the Longford for Neville Chamberlain after Munich.
12. Stage shows I saw: Nat Gonella,Florrie Forde,Frank Randle.
13. Saw the Halle with John Barborolli.
14. Double seats-magnificent.

In the late forties as a student postman(Stretford Post Office) at Christmas along with many others I used the Longford cafe as a meeting point forcoffee after our rounds were finished.