Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918

Source: Extract from interview with Gwendoline Strong, C707/446/1-2, 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: What about – was there a cinema in Oxford before you went to school, or when you were at school?

A: Yes. Yes, there was a cinema – we also had a cinema here.

Q: Did you go there?

A: Yes. Yes, but that was only on Saturday evenings. And it was sixpence. The – the fee to go in was sixpence and I remember on one occasion – the film caught fire, and we – oh it was a terrific – of course it was great fun for the children, it was a – almost a children’s cinema you see, but a few older people went, and there was one old lady went who was a cripple, and she was – she had crutches you see, under the arm crutches, and her name was Mrs Gardner, well now she could never move without these crutches but when there was a fire nobody will ever [k]now how she got out of the hall, but she got out and the crutches were left behind, which was very amusing to the children you can imagine.

Comments: Gwendoline Strong (1898-?) was the daughter of a gentleman’s outfitter, who was brought up in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Film fires were not uncommon in the early cinema period, owing to the nitrate film stock used and the poor conditions of some cinemas. It was after a number of fires in which children were killed that the 1909 Cinematograph Act was passed, requiring all cinemas to be licensed. Ms Strong 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).