The Cinema

I remember being in the one and sixes..

The opening - by Ray Crawley

The art deco style Gaumont cinema at Rose Hill was designed by architect Harry Weston. It boasted two thousand luxury seats, a full stage, cafe and car park. As well as films, it featured Gaumont British News with Mr. Bevan at the organ. The Gaumont opened on Whit Monday, 17 May 1937. The film star John Loder was the principal guest. So many people turned out to see him (he was attended by eight junior 'starlets') that traffic jams were caused in the surrounding area. The London County Council had set aside the site for an amusement centre and approved the plans for a cinema in 1936. Councillor J. Goodman, Chairman of Carshalton Urban District Council, performed the opening ceremony. The Gaumont closed in 1961, along with many others across the country, as a result of declining attendances.

I remember going to Saturday morning cinema at Rose Hill. It was The Gaumont, I think, with all the other children on the estate and when it opened we got all these presents - jars of jam and things like that for our parents. (Evelyn Rice née Dyer)

Photo:The Gaumont at Rose Hill

The Gaumont at Rose Hill

Sutton Local Studies and Archives

Oh it was beautiful. It was very much adorned inside. I mean you wouldn't get them these days. It was gold all everywhere. Gold leaf on all the interior decorating. And the lovely big curtains that used to come across. And there used to be an organ - of course, halfway through you had an organ - used to play the music there... Cinema was quite big in those days. The Majestic Cinema at Mitcham was another one we used to go to. They're beautiful places inside. Very comfortable. Very good.  I remember being in the one and sixes and the one and nines - going back to those prices. (Doreen Porter née Wilkes)

Photo:Interior of the Gaumont in 1937

Interior of the Gaumont in 1937

Sutton Local Studies and Archives

The stars used to come every year to the Morden Hall garden parties. J. Arthur Rank Studios used to have these open days up there where you could actually meet the stars. You paid something to meet the stars because I think it was for charity, and we used to wait outside the Hall and see them arriving in their limousines.  Margaret Lockwood, John Mills - all the stars of that day. It was just amazing to think you could even take a glimpse of them. (Doreen Porter née Wilkes)

Sunday opening

Cinema was a passion for many people at that period and the Gaumont's facilities were well-used.  When the idea of Sunday opening for cinemas was put to the vote locally, it was the overwhelming support from St. Helier people that pushed the decision through. As the local paper commented, this was the first time that the estate's residents had been able to demonstrate their influence in the area.

Saturday Morning Children's Club

A lot of people remember the Saturday morning children's club, which I don't think did cost very much.We used to go there and there was all the Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and all those sort of films at that time until we got onto the more romantic side as we got into teenage years. (Doreen Porter née Wilkes)

Barry Hackett's memories of the Saturday morning club

This page was added by Cheryl Bailey on 30/11/2011.
Comments about this page

During the interval they would have local children up to do all sorts of things - maybe with a whip and top, or acrobatics or a ball attached to a bat by elastic - some children were very good at that. They would display their talent on the stage and we all applauded.

By Doreen O'Halloran
On 13/08/2010

My nan Sally Holmes lived opposite the Gaumont and I had to go with her on a Sunday. She only liked sitting in the front row even though there were not many people in there and we had to bend our necks back to see the screen properly. She always took a bag of cockles to eat in there. I had to go to Finlays on the corner for her tin of snuff. Good days

By Pat Collings nee Holmes
On 14/09/2010

I used to go to the pictures every week with my mum and sisters. I remember seeing Bill Owen when he came to the cinema.

On 17/09/2010

Like lots of children on ‘The Estate’ I went to the Gaumont on Saturday mornings. It used to cost sixpence, equivalent to two and a half pence in the current money. We never used the front entrance but instead used the very back exit door on the Sutton side of the cinema where there would be a lady sitting at a table with a roll of tickets on it. If you joined the Saturday Club, on your birthday you would receive a postcard sized birthday card that allowed you in free on the following Saturday. All children who had a birthday that day or within the week were invited up on to the stage . Not only did the other children applaud them but they also sang ’Happy birthday’ to them. Made you all feel very special.

Have a look at Nib's page about the programme at The Gaumont (Ed.)

By Nib West
On 18/09/2010

I remember seeing the Elvis Presley film 'Loving You' there in autumn 1957. In 1960 it changed over to bingo and I was one of the first to sign up. I went there in August 1960 and won £4-15s-0d (the day before going on holiday to Devon so it came in useful). I kept on going to bingo for several weeks but never won again.

By M Cowley
On 24/09/2010

I also remember the Gaumont Rosehill because my father helped build it working for Costains and my sister was manageress.Not sure of the date but I was about 10 or 12 and I presented a bouquet to Margaret Lockwood when she appeared there. Irene Amos (then Codd)

By Irene Amos
On 26/11/2010

I used to sell the Evening News and Evening Standard outside the cinema in 1975/6 they cost 8p Monday to Friday and 10p on Saturday.

By Len Townsend
On 13/07/2011

oh my mum hated the Bingo hall- when everyone came out, threw their unused tickets in the hedge and would almost knock me over (aged around 8) My mum would never play Bingo for the rest of her life! BUT I loved the building, played ball up the very tall wall at the back of the hall, was scared because someone said a ghost lived in the furnace room...we all dared each other to walk down the steps to it...

By sue from Wiltshire
On 24/09/2011

Andrew Green in his book 'Our Haunted Kingdom' says that the Top Rank Bingo Hall formerly The Gaumont was haunted by eerie organ music. Any residents of the area know of any such stories

By Drake Richards
On 09/11/2011

Saturday morning pictures. fiftys . before the film show we got a new style of music on the stage, a skiffle session from the Peter Simmons skiffle band,the double base being a tea chest, there being a small tea import Co. behind Rosehill Ct, St. Helier Ave

By john holmes
On 31/01/2012

The subject of the Gaumont being haunted is not new. I did find a story on another site..which I can no longer find!....that it was haunted by a man in an overall suggesting he was a workman of some kind, who had been seen in the balcony by staff members who knew that they were alone in the cinema, the figure did not react to anyone, and then disappeared!

By Ray Crawley
On 31/01/2012

I went to Saturday morning pictures at Rosehill Gaumont with kids from my street, Wigmore Road. I had one particular friend who regularly took part in the saturday talent show, her name was Edna Heath and she performed with a large ventriloquist dummy. Her brother, Peter played the organ at the same event.

By Rene Cooper
On 24/03/2012

I used to go to Saturday morning pictures and there used be a lady or man selling Pomegranates outside.

By Phillipa Thomas nee Paul
On 04/04/2013

Before the war closure, queuing on a Friday evening for tickets for the Saturday morning kids shows. If you didn't you stood a chance of not getting in such were the numbers attending.The expectation once you were in. The Gaumont organ playing and rising out of the pit, and singing our song 'We come along on Saturday morning'

  There now,not too bad a memory for an 85 year old brought up in Green Wrythe Lane from 1936 till joining the Royal Navy in 1946.

Now living in Berwick upon Tweed on the Scot's Border.

Went to Welbeck Rd No.8 school.

So pleased to discover this site. Thankyou. Happy Day's

By Roy Phillips
On 29/03/2016

It was a real occasion to go to the Gaumont cinema at Rose hill what an amazing building it was a picture palace in the true meaning of the word does anyone remember the week Rock around the clock was shown there, people blocked the road after the show they were so hyped up with the music they had just seen, it just spilled out on to the street . A wonderful venue and a great time to be alive. 

By James Hills
On 29/03/2016

I well remember the Saturday morning pictures at the Gaumont. After which we galloped home in the style of Gene Autry or Roy Rogers, or flew like Captain Marvel.

 I joined the Red Cross youth section to get in free when I was a duty first aider with a white bag and Red Cross arm band (so self important).

By Ron Christian
On 19/05/2016

Fifty seven years ago I was a draughtsman at an engineering company in Chester.  We made Architectural aluminium and steel building products.  I had a drawing of the Gaumont Cinema Sutton on my drawing board.  It was really a striking drawing to look at, so much so that I can recall it to this day.  Even without ever seeing the actual building and never even knowing where Sutton actually was, except somewhere down South, in London, I thought about it often as the years went by.  What was it like inside, what films were shown, did they have a commissionaire etc.  Well I will never know so I think I have missed something but it was beautiful.  They don't build them like they used to do they?  

And if I wore a hat and had met the gentleman or lady that designed the cinema, I would have taken my hat off to them. 

By Vic Harrison
On 11/02/2020

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