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ABC Lyric Cinema

Traffic in Midland Road 1949, Wellingborough
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I was the Chief Projectionist at the Lyric from approx 1957 until 1963 when I was appointed as Co Chief/Lighting Engineer at the new ABC Blackpool. The Manager at the Lyric was Mr Ron Crabb and when he moved to another ABC Cinema, Mr Ken Porter took his place. Ron Crabb and myself were featured on an edition of Down Your Way, the popular BBC Radio programme of the time. The cinema had a small but lovely little Compton organ which myself and the projection team restored and put back into pristine condition. Eventually it was broadcast four times: twice each by Trevor Willets and Reginald Porter Brown...both of whom were members of the ABC Team of touring organists. An Assistant Manager for many years was Noel Briggs, himself a fine organist. The organ was eventually removed and sold to Wellingborough Weavers Road school, and was restored for use in the School Assembly Hall, by the Music Master, Mostyn Burman. He actually made a recording of the organ which was the subject of an LP release on the Deroy label. The organ was removed from the school in 2008. The lovely illuminated 'jelly mould' lighting that surrounded the console never went to the school, but was bought by Mr Roly Walker, a local Bus and Motor Car retailer. The last I saw of the organ surround was in his showroom windows with a Ford Mini underneath it! I recall that in the adjacent Lyric car park was a small hut, in which I used to keep my bike. I cycled to the Lyric each day from Wilby Lido, where I had a static caravan. The Projection room at the Lyric was one of the biggest on the ABC Circuit and had the unusual access to and from it via a door at the back of the Circle. There was, before my time, a lovely Cafe which ran the length of the building overlooking Midland Road, and which was accessible via a small shop at pavement level. I believe at some time there was an attempt to turn it into some kind of Disco/Nite Club. When the Lyric was demolished, Ken Porter went to the Savoy Northampton as the Manager: the very cinema that I held my second bout of employment as a cinema projectionist. The first cinema I worked at was the Plaza on Welingborough Road Northampton. There was something magical about going to the cinema in those days. Cinema projection was an 'art form if done correctly, and my team at the Lyric were very proud of the way we screened the films and presented the shows. Today, a visit to the cinema is a sterile affair with no showmanship requirements on the part of the projectionist whatsoever.

Written by Alan Ashton. To send Alan Ashton a private message, click here.

A memory of Wellingborough in Northamptonshire shared on Wednesday, 14th October 2009.

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RE: ABC Lyric Cinema

I was at Weavers School ( Technical Grammar School) the day they brought the old organ into the school hall. My father was a teacher at the school. I vividly remember all the organ parts laid out on the hall floor. I later attended the school and remember Mr Burman fondly. I took part in many shows and loved school assemblies singing hymns. Having the organ to accompany us was wonderful. I also remember Reginald Dixon coming to school for a concert. It is sad that the organ was removed but inevitable. Thank you for reminding me of this memory.

Comment from Helen Thomas on Sunday, 7th November 2010.

RE: ABC Lyric Cinema

Hi, I don't know if you can help me but I'm looking for inside pics of the ABC Theatre at Blackpool, I've done searches on the net but keep coming up blank. I see you worked there, I just wondered if you had any pics, or know anyone who has? Many thanks, Paul, Blackpool, 07729161677

Comment from Paul Matthews on Thursday, 2nd February 2012.

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