When I was 12 years’ old, I worked at weekends and evenings, as a page-boy at the Regent Cinema–resplendent in a pillar-box hat and a blue uniform with brass buttons. My main task was taking late customers upstairs, with the aid of a torch. The year was 1932: Mr Collard was the Manager, and Glyn Jenkins the Projectionist. A second duty of mine was to cross over the road to White’s pastry shop to collect tea on a tray, for Mr Collard.
From the Regent, I went on to work at the Tivoli. There, I worked in the projection booth with Herbert Dix. Before the programme started, I organised the paratrope: I was the equivalent of the modern disc-jockey, providing non-stop music, as the audience assembled. One tune that sticks in my mind, from those days, is ‘Turkish Patrol’.
As the projectors were running, we were always on the look-out for a sign–a circle and a cross in the top right-hand corner, which was a warning signal that we needed to change reels. I used to go to Lowther’s (now Boots) to buy pear-drops, because those were what we used as sticky ‘glue’, to join films together!
There was plenty of other entertainment in Mumbles, apart from the cinema. Ivor Beynon and his accordion band played at the end of the Pier. At the entrance to the Pier, my sister Connie and her friend Dolly Ace, worked in the roller-skating rink. Football was a popular sport in Langland–under the Esplanade and in Church Park (at the Western Lane end) a garage, owned by the fishmonger, Frank Williams and his associate Mr Irvine, was used for boxing. Later, Mr Irvine established his own social club, next door to the present Mumbles Rugby Club. In the summer months, there was dancing on the Green opposite Irvine’s Social Club, and carnivals, with jazz-band competitions, in the Castle Field.
Entertainments were simple and cheap. They were hugely popular and always well attended.