Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918

Source: Extract from interview with Mrs Annely, Thompson, P. and Lummis, T., Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918, 1870-1973 [computer file]. 7th Edition. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive [distributor], May 2009. SN: 2000,

Text: Q: Cinemas, lantern slide shows, that kind of thing – was there anything like that you remember?

A: Oh, of course we were allowed to go to the cinema. 2d. at one cinema and ld. at the other. As long as you sat on hard wooden forms in the Jeune Street Cinema. And the Cowley Road one we used to go to very often. That was one of the places where my brother used to have to take me when I was small. But my first memory of Cowley Road was that it was a small theatre and the people that lived next door to us, she used to put some of the actors and actresses up, so we used to get a free pass to go up there. She used to send us a free pass in so we three children used to go and see some of the variety acts that they had there.

Q: It was more a variety theatre was it?

A: Yes. Very much like a music hall type of place. I think there’s been quite a lot of news about it, in the Oxford Mail recently you know. Antony Wood has been following it up.

Q: About the old style music halls?

A: About the old style music halls, yes. Up Cowley Road, the Old Palace as it was called. He’s done quite a lot of work on that

Q: Used you to go quite often to that then?

A: I would say every Saturday.

Q: And what about the cinemas, were they on Saturdays, too?

A: Yes. Usually a children’s performance in the morning.

Q: Were there special children’s programmes that you went to when your brother took you, or was it adult films?

A: I would think that they were adult films, but of course, you didn’t get “X” films like you do today.

Q: Oh, no. No I was thinking about your mother with her very particular ideas about upbringing, I think it probably must have been quite suitable for her to let your brother…

A: Oh, yes. I don’t think we would have been allowed to see anything that wasn’t quite suitable.

Comments: Mrs Annelly was born in Oxford in 1905, the youngest of three children. Her father was a house painter and decorator. Her mother was a cook for a doctor before marriage. She was one of 444 people interviewed by Paul Thompson and his team as part of a study of the Edwardian era which resulted in Thompson’s book The Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1975). The cinema referred to may be the Oxford Picture Palace, which was on the corner of Cowley Road and Jeune Street.