AN email reminded me that last year I had promised some pictures of Marlow’s former cinema in Station Road.

Here we are then: better late than never.

It opened as the County in 1938, replacing the King George’s Cinema at the end of Spittal Street which dated back to circa 1913, and originally known as the Picture Palace.

Only silent films initially!

That building remained for over three decades, which as mentioned last week, ending up as a factory making Poppetts plastic jewellery.

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The new Cinema in Station Road would not have won many awards for architectural merit, but it was a well-loved part of the town’s past years.

Visually, it always provided a stark contrast with the stately Marlow Place next door.

There were 360 downstairs seats and 250 up in the balcony.

The name changed to the Odeon during the war years and then to the Regal in 1959.

It closed down in 1984, coincidentally soon after screening the film of that same name.

I have many happy memories of regular visits as soon as I was old enough for my mother to let me out: especially the Saturday morning children’s matinees with the flamboyantly dressed commissionaire and Manager Mr Hobdell struggling to keep order amongst the unruly crowd, and of the very distinctive cinema smell that used to waft out through the side doors.

These matinees were notorious for their weekly serials, all with ridiculous ‘cliff hanger’ endings to ensure you returned the next week.

There was one, “Thunder Riders” I think it was called, when a troop of avenging horsemen way out West used to emerge from a huge, concealed doorway that opened up in a cliff face.

Does anyone else remember that?

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Today it sounds daft.

Mr Hobdell with his ever-present bow tie is featured in the centre pictures: at a Christmas party for his staff who include Jean Farrell and Beatrice Ward, and making a long service presentation of a clock to the commissionaire whose name I don’t think I ever knew: likewise Mr Hobdell’s Christian name is a mystery.

Perhaps someone out there will have some information, but I do remember Mr H lived just 100 yards away in Institute Road.

The little “Forthcoming Attractions” folder lower right dates from 1953 with two changes of programme during the week and a separate double bill presentation on a Sunday.

“Genevieve” is the only film in there that will strike a chord these days: it sometimes shows up on TV, and with those lovely vintage cars.

During the war years (before my time, I hasten to point out) the Odeon Group often put on live stage shows in their cinemas to boost morale, featuring top stars.

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This was difficult at Marlow as there was no space behind the curtain, just the screen and end wall, so difficult to perform.

However, comedian Arthur Askey apparently made one appearance.

It’s long out of print but there is a detailed and well researched little booklet by Martin Tapsell

“Memories of Buckinghamshire’s Picture Palaces”.

If you can find a copy it contains many items and pictures of great interest, including the fact that along with much ceremony the County was opened by a (then) famous actress Edith Stamp Taylor.

I also have fond memories of the High Wycombe cinemas that existed in my time, and they are all featured in this booklet: the Grand, the Odeon, the Rex and the Palace.