DURING the 1940s and 50s I went with my Mum and Dad to the cinema every Saturday night - front stalls, 10d, first house, 6pm.

Usually it was the Elite on Duckworth Lane or the Coliseum next door. The Elite was a snug little cinema with a balcony. It was built as a cinema in silent film days, so the screen was on one wall.

When “talkies” arrived, which needed a loudspeaker behind the screen, they had to build an extra, small room outside the building. I think it’s still there.

The Coliseum was much older and had been a skating rink and circus. It had a large barrel roof and no balcony. Watching the show at the Elite one night, they showed a slide: “Rewind boy wanted - Apply to Manager”. I was 16 and an office boy, and this sounded more fun. I applied, was accepted and then discovered the vacancy was at the Coliseum next door.

The job was quite fun, I was rewinding the film reel, but the working hours were awful - 10am to 12.30pm and 5pm to 10.30pm. Fine until the terrible winter of 1947 caused the roof of the Coliseum to become dangerous and close. So I became assistant to the resident electrician and sick replacement projectionist.

Both cinemas were part of a chain owned by AS Hyde of Shipley. His first cinema was the Glenroyal and grew with Picture House at the Branch, the Baildon cinema and the Arcadian in Bradford. He converted a mortuary building in Burley in Wharfedale into a small cinema. I was in the projection room on the opening night.

When 1948 came it brought my conscription and off I went for two years in the RAF working as an aircraft electrician on Wellington bombers.

When I returned in 1950, I went to work at the Elite and was determined to become a cinema manager.

A letter to ABC cinemas led to an interview with Richard Simcox, manager of the Ritz Cinema in Bradford, I was promised a job as trainee manager when I became at 21 (when I was old enough to sell cigarettes).

As it happened, I worked as an attendant for two months, and then I was off to the Ritz Cinema in York as a trainee manager.

When I met my wife, May, she was a part-time usherette at the Elite at night and a weaver by day.

After three months in York, I was back to the Ritz in Halifax as Assistant Manager, then Huddersfield, which had an organist and restaurant.

The cinema closed at 10.30pm then I did the accounts before travelling back to Bradford. I sometimes missed the last bus, May used to come over and we’d get a fish and chip supper and walk to the railway station to catch the last train to Bradford.

I also worked at the Ritz Cinemas in Keighley and Brighouse for a while. With ABC Cinemas you moved around a lot to various branches.

Back then there was a cinema practically on every street corner. Everyone went to the pictures. It was before the days of television.

On Mondays, when we got the new programme, I would watch the films in bits and pieces, to check them before the screenings.

At 6pm I got changed into evening dress. In those days people got dressed up to go to the cinema, it was important for the staff to look smart too.

I had many happy years working in cinemas. As assistant manager at the ABC, I had the job of running the weekly minors club on Saturday mornings - the children loved Cowboy and Indian films and space adventures. If it was someone’s birthday they would be invited up onto the stage and the audience sang Happy Birthday.

We had all the big film releases, and some news films too. After the war we showed a news reel of British and US troops liberating concentration camps, it was very disturbing footage and some people walked out.

One night I was standing in the entrance and someone opened the door and said there was a man laid out on the floor in the toilets. He’d left his coat in the cinema but when we searched we couldn’t find it. It turned out he’d gone to see a film with a girl and had left his coat with her when he went to the toilet.. When he failed to return, she left with his coat. He’d slipped and banged his head on the radiator, he had a fractured skull.

In 1951 I married May and we had our wedding reception in the Gaumont ballroom in Bradford, the building that later became the Odeon.

Being married, the working hours plus travelling became more and more oppressive. I had other ambitions then, including more study at evening classes at the Bradford Technical College. I’d left school at 16 and wanted to further my studies and I needed a job where I could study in the evenings.

I advertised for a job, received one reply, and entered the wholesale camera business.

I left the cinema shortly before it began to dwindle away with the arrival of TV. I have since given several talks about Bradford’s cinemas.

They were very popular. I’m sure many of your readers will have fond memories of going to these picture houses.