Entertainment in days gone by

Posted on 21 August 2012 | Narrative

This story by Pamela Stubbs looks back at the history of entertainment venues in York.

“I was born in York and have lived here for all of my 78 years, and I am remembering how wonderfully well we were entertained when I was a stage struck teenager during the late 1940s and early 1950s. This was the time of course before every household had a television.

We had so many great actors and actresses, the likes of Leslie Philips and Jean Alexander who performed in weekly “rep” at the Theatre Royal – also fabulous weekly revue shows starring Frankie Howerd, Frank Randall etc. at the Empire (now the Grand Opera House)

We had choice of at least ten cinemas showing all the top blockbuster films. Some even changed programmes mid week and for your money you were able to see an A film, a B film and a newsreel, and because the running was continuous you could stay there and see it all again if you wanted to.

It was a fantastic time and funnily enough part of the thrill was the queueing to get in, especially to the gallery at the Theatre Royal, as the entrance was right next to the Stage Door, and to catch a glimpse of a famous actor going in was so exciting; as was waiting at the Stage Door for autographs after the performance.

We also had several dance halls, The Assembly Rooms and the De Grey Rooms to name but two. Such happy times! There is absolutely nothing like live entertainment and we were privileged In York to have it all.

We are still quite well catered for in 2012 with the Theatre Royal, Grand Opera House and now The Barbican; not forgetting the Joseph Rowntree Theatre; but a visit to the cinema is a completely different experience, but nevertheless still enjoyable.”