(feckenodeon @ May 12 2006, 10:29 PM)
I worked as projectionist at the Regent in Newtown, Powys in the late 60s. It had 500+ seats but at least half of those in the stalls had springs poking through the upholstery.
The gear had been installed when the theatre opened in 1938 and was quirky to say the least. The curtain motor had long since ceased to work and so a small boy was employed to wind them by hand. If we were showing an X certificate film the small boy wasn't allowed to be in the auditorium so the curtains remained open throughout the show.
Much like the Bijou in "The Smallest Show On Earth" a system of barter was operated - one regular used to pay in sausages from his butchers shop... and these were stored in the box office freezer next to the choc ices and Mivvis. Hand painted posters were pasted up each Saturday night - the artist based in Porthmadog (I think) used to take the order by phone and obviously wasn't up to date with the names of screen actors - I remember a James Bond film starring the welsh beauty "Sian Conway" and a comedy starring "Norma Wisden"
Thursdays nights were bingo nights and a collection of home made blowers and scoreboards would be trundled onto the stage. An usherette sat behind the giant illuminated scoreboard operating switches to light up the numbers as they were called - until one Thursday when there was a pop, a flash and a scream and Joyce appeared ashen faced, pop eyed and with smoke coming from what was left of her hair...
Despite all this The Regent was a real cinema - big screen, good sound - and provided a real big picture experience. I'm glad to note that it's still running today (in the balcony only) to a much higher standard.