Family Life and Work Experience Before 1918

Source: Extract from interview with Stanley Ratcliff, C707/309/1-10, 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: Did they have a cinema in the town before the first war?

A: No. Yes. YES. It was silent of course. Yes, that was in Towers Hall. They did have a cinema there. But the only thing that I saw there was the Horsemen of the Apocolyps [sic] I think it was, I think that was it. It WASN’T a good film. I saw lots of things there after a time. But what the – films were I don’t think there was anything of any great note anyhow except that.

Q: What sort of people would go to the cinema in the early days?

A: I would say the ordinary run of people really. I know Edith and I used to go sometimes. We were courting then. But – it wasn’t a good – it had an air of improvisation really. You know, you hadn’t got the – the things – as they are today. You had a feeling that everything was sort of makeshift. You were – you had a pianist there of course. And the – the particular things that he played didn’t always suit the picture. But – the – screen was very small by the way, quite a small screen.

Comments: Stanley Ratcliff (1891-?) the son of a chargehand at a boilermakers, was the youngest of eleven children, living in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (USA 1921) was directed by Rex Ingram and starred Rudolph Valentino. The Electric Theatre in Sheerness was known as ‘Tower’s’ after its owner, a Mr Tower. Ratcliff 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).