Gaumont Memories (post from our visual artist Jacky Oliver)

Working as the Visual Artist for the The Tally Ho a Place to meet project has been a great opportunity to look at a site that I’ve known all my life, but I’ve never really appreciated the rich history of it. Focusing for the main part on the Gaumont Cinema I was lucky enough to meet the Reminiscence Group in East Barnet Village on August 29th . A lovely group of ladies meet once a month on Friday afternoons in the East Barnet Baptist Church. They kindly shared their memories of the Gaumont cinema with me.

 Jacky workshop pic 5 Jacky workshop pic 10

I am really fascinated by older generations, so I prepared some simple books for the group to record their memories through their own handwriting. The beauty of their flowing script is something that I will definitely be including in my final artwork.

A lot of the ladies had visited the cinema as children, with their parents and then later with boyfriends and then their own husbands and families. One lady went for Afternoon tea with china tea cups, served by waitresses in uniforms similar to the ones worn in the Lyons Tea Shops. Not everyone was lucky enough to have visited the cinema while the restaurant was open, although one went to a wedding reception there.

 Jacky workshop pic 6Jacky workshop pic 4

They discussed the 2 or three different prices for the tickets, 1 and 9 was definitely one of the prices. The way in which people queued in different lines for seats which varied in price.

The Grand Hall was another cinema in North Finchley, and a long list of other cinemas from the local area was discussed, Cinema was the main form of entertainment with the films being changed twice a week.  Monday Tuesday and Wednesday had one film and then on Thursday the film was changed.

Tally Ho corner has always been an important terminus, so it was really great to hear the different ways that visitors to the Gaumont travelled there, on trolley buses, some of the ladies clearly remembering the number and route that the buses or the trams they used travelled on.

There has been quite a change in the way cinema is less of an important part of our lives now. The way that these ladies have enthusiastically shared their experiences has been a real privilege to listen to. The next step now is to do justice to this session and Olivia’s research in the development of the final piece for the exhibition in October

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