Oldham Historical Research Group

'Oldham Stories'

     'Oldham Stories'
by Mary Dickinson

Entertainment in the Old Days

I have just heard that the Empire theatre is closing down and it brought back a lot of memories. We used to have such a lot of picture houses but T.V. has meant that a lot of them have shut down.

People my age will remember when pictures came out for the first time. When I was quite young my friends and I used to go to the Temperance Hall in Horsedge St. where we sat and listened to the Bible and watched holy magic lantem pictures, which were shown on a small screen. Later we went to a picture house at the bottom of Walshaw St. I think it was the first one in Oldham. Next came one in Horsedge St. which was called The Premier and later The Alhambra. What crowds used to go! We were given comics and dolly mixtures as we went in the door. We had lots of fun exchanging the comics with each other. We knew the show was about to begin when a man walked round and with one shout he made us be quiet.

One of our neighbours was the pianist there and he had a lot to put up with while he was playing. Toffee papers and shells of nuts would be thrown at him. After part one the lights would go on and one or two children would be thrown out for being noisy. After that it would be very quiet, unless it was Cowboys and Indians and then we would all take part. We would shout where they were hiding or when the Indians were coming. We certainly let off some steam.

Later on we had better picture places like the Palladium, the Grosvenor, the Victory, the Kings and the Coliseum. The Grand Theatre at Star Inn was one of the oldest. It used to show dramas, musical comedies and operas. When pictures came there it was called the Gaumont. I think the first picture shown there was a George Formby. I don't think many people remember the Osborne. It was in a small street behind Woolworth's.

At Oldham Wakes time the Fair came to Oldham. It was set up on a street quite near where I lived and we could hear the loud music and see the bright lights till midnight. I think everyone in Oldham visited the fair. There were such a lot of ice-cream stalls. You could have a ld sandwich or wait for a 2d glass which you had to eat near the stall. Although we lived so near to the Fair our mother used to take us and she gave us a good time.We used to come home with a small toy like a ball on elastic. Parents hadn't a lot of money but they always tried to give their children a good time.

If we wanted a walk we had the Moors just outside Oldham. They were beautiful. Daisy Nook was a pretty place too and at Easter time there was a Fair in the fields. The weather always seemed to be fine and we would stay till 9 or 10pm and go home feeling tired but happy.
I live in Chadderton now but my memories are of Oldham and the people who lived there.

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