West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
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Pontefract Letters Page

HAPPY MEMORIES OF PONTEFRACT CINEMAS

ADDED 23 MARCH 2006

I was recently given the opportunity, by courtesy of my very dear friend Barbara, to read a few issues of the Pontefract Edition of the Digest. Barbara and me have been close friends for over 60 years having first met at Norton Infants School at the tender age of five!

About ten years later, Barbara and her parents moved from Campsall to Pontefract, but not before we both transferred from Norton Junior School to continue our education at Pontefract & District Girls High School (P.D.H.S) Although I remained resident in Doncaster, our friendship continued throughout our time at P.D.H.S. from 1947-54.

Now in our retirement years we still keep in touch, meeting for lunch and the exchange of news on a monthly basis. It was at our latest such get-together that Barbara showed me the Digest.

The pictures and stories brought back many happy memories and I particularly enjoyed the articles by Norman Blackburn concerning the history of Pontefract Cinemas. The Crescent in Ropergate was the one we visited most. Like many teenagers we had our favourite stars. After saving part of our pocket money for weeks we sent for glossy pictures of those we liked best. I remember having photos of Gregory Peck and Richard Todd – will I ever forget him in that tear-jerker "The Hasty Heart"?

That fine building, the Alexandra, also features in my memories. It was there that I saw "The Robe" and "Scott of the Antarctic".

Another visit to the Alexandra though had nothing to do with films. It was, at least once in our early years, the venue for our school Speech Day – a more solemn and serious occasion!

Parents and pupils were crammed in to listen to what to us seemed endless speeches from the platform outlining the successes and progress (or lack of it!) of row upon row of us girls clad in dark brown uniform (a colour I vowed never to wear in future years!)

Following news of academic achievements, presentation of certificates and announcements of University placements etc, we came at last to a lighter side of the proceedings. This was a resume of the schools sporting year. Interspersed by bursts of applause, we heard which House (Saxons, Normans, Tudors or Stuarts) had gained the most points on Sports Day and how our hockey, netball, tennis and rounders teams had faired against teams from Castleford, Featherstone, Hemsworth etc. (me and Barbara were often team members)

The whole day was rounded off with our rendition of the school song (lyrics composed by Miss Illingworth?) and then in a mass of brown we tumbled out of the Alexandra into the fresh air and wearily trudged uphill to the town centre to catch our respective buses for home. O happy days!

Although a ‘Doncastrian’, I’ll never forget those years at Pontefract, brought to mind again by Mr. Blackburn’s articles on its cinemas.

Carol Bingham
23 March 2006


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