The cinema experience in Yate and Chipping Sodbury

July 06 2020
The cinema experience in Yate and Chipping Sodbury

Yate and District Heritage Centre

YATE and District Heritage Centre is inviting local people to offer background information for a display project entitled Going Out in Yate and Sodbury.

Some of this project will focus on trips to local cinemas culminating in a display, hopefully at the end of 2020.

Today, cinema involves a trip to the Cineworld complex in Yate. The modern movie goer expects well-padded seats, controlled temperatures, refreshments and a choice of film! Seats are booked online or using machines within the foyer. Face-to-face human interaction is kept to a basic minimum. In short, the opposite of what many people endured in local cinemas before the 1960s.

Cinema historians will cite the 1920s and 1930s as a time of plush cinemas with palatial interiors, like the Odeon or the Gaumont. The cinema trip was designed to be a contrast to the humdrum lives people had at home. For Yate and Sodbury, cinematic memories are somewhat different. The cinema experience was often one of draughty halls, wooden benches and functional décor.

Local cinemas, however, did have their own character, free from the standardisation of the national cinema chain. The earliest known cinema was the Garage Cinema, on the corner of High Street and Hounds Road. Efforts were made to create some luxury. The Garage boasted hessian drapes, upright heaters and plush seats at the back.

From the late 1930s, there was always one cinema in the area. The Parish Hall in Yate from 1934, King’s Cinema Yate, late 1930s, and the Cosy Cinema in Chipping Sodbury (below) sprang up within a few years. The new cinemas served the growing population sucked in by the modern factories in Yate and Bristol.

Cosy

The Parish Hall cinema ran from around 1934 to 1956. It offered comfortable seats and something plusher in the back two rows. But like the other local ‘flicks’, it was not purpose-built. No opulent surrounds, little or no heating and a flat surface restricting the view. Refreshments, too, were largely non-existent in the local cinema halls.

After 1945, Sodbury people could still enjoy a local cinema. The Glen was a new cinema and like the other local cinemas it was adapted from an earlier building.

The Glen, later Embassy and Tudor, continued to 1958 in a former Nissen hut.

It therefore had one distinct disadvantage. The exterior was corrugated iron! As a result, it was sound advice to avoid going if there was any chance of rain. Heavy rain hitting the iron roof could drown out much of the film if it were quiet. It was also not unknown for unruly local boys to run along the outside of the cinema with sticks, to create a sufficient rattle to disrupt the show.

David Hardill