Ean Wood wrote an article in the Peel Heritage Newsletter several years ago about Howard Hugh who used to show silent films at the Albert Hall on a hand-cranked projector.
This is part of it: ‘During the First World War there were often many soldiers from Knockaloe in the audience, brought there by chara by Albert Ostick, who ran the Raglan Hotel in Douglas Street, now the British Legion.
At first the projector at the Albert Hall was lit by oil but when Knockaloe closed down, at the beginning of the Twenties, and its equipment was sold off, Howard bought an oil-fired generator and the projector lamp became electrical. The Albert Hall was regarded as a bit rough for the nicer children to attend. Some people even said you could catch bugs there. And the presentation wasn’t quite all it might be. It wasn’t unknown for Howard to put a reel of film on the projector end outwards so that the picture appeared on the screen backwards and upside down and the audience would yell out: ‘Other way up Howard.’
‘The next cinema was the Pavilion, on Stanley Road, which is now the Masonic Hall. It had two prices of seats, the more expensive in the back half, which were padded, and the less expensive in the front half, which weren’t. Each night there was a first house and a second house, each, of course, showing the same programme. Here’s a mention of it in a recent piece for the Peel Heritage Newsletter, to come out shortly, about a Peel man called Teddy Egner:
‘Teddy never really settled to having a job but he could play the piano and for a while, around 1930, he had a little four-piece band. Sometimes they played for dances in the ballroom above the Pavilion Cinema on Stanley Road. Prices for the cinema in those days were sixpence and a shilling. If you’d paid a shilling you were admitted free to the ballroom after the film but if you’d only been in the sixpenny seats you had to pay threepence extra.’
Ean goes on: ‘The ballroom on the first floor was refused a licence after the Second World War because the floor was judged to be structurally unsafe for dancing. I’m not sure when the Pavilion itself closed. Possibly in the 1960s.
‘The next (and last until now) attempt to show films in Peel began in the autumn of 1976, at Harbour Lights on the Shore Road. The plan was to have two children’s shows on Saturdays, one at 10.15am and one at 2pm, each showing the same film and supporting programme, and an adult’s show of films and supporting programme on Thursdays at 7.30pm.
‘As far as I know it was only to run during the winter and how long it lasted I don’t know.’