On this Day 5th June 1938

Gaiety Returns to Newlyn

Mr Dobbin is a happy man. The preparations are all in place for tomorrow’s opening of his newly-renovated cinema, and the return of film to Newlyn. The Mayor of Penzance is going to be there, and will be falling over himself for some good publicity and even perhaps a bit of goodwill from Newlyn, after all the recent trouble with the clearance scheme. Newlyn folk may have had a shock about the Borough’s plans for their housing, but at least now they can “forget their troubles” and enjoy a good film.

Gaiety Cinema, Newlyn (courtesy of Morrab Library Photo Archive)

Gaiety Cinema, Newlyn (courtesy of Morrab Library Photo Archive)

Since taking on the lease from Alderman Robert Thomas, Mr Dobbin has been planning and overseeing the renovations and Alderman Thomas has masterminded the whole enterprise. They’ve gone for luxury and comfort. There’s a steep rake on the seats, and what you might almost call a gallery up the steps at the back. Plenty of ventilation for the cigarette smoke – some people can be fussy about that. No smells. “All suggestion of stuffiness averted” as the press release says. Mr Dobbin is determined to succeed where the old management failed. Coming soon will be The Saving of Bill Blewett, the Post office Savings film, featuring Mousehole, so he’s hinted that the Mayor might like to mention how educational and informative film can be. Without, of course, suggesting that his potential customers might be in any way deficient in that respect.

Mr Dobbin looks back through the press release he delivered to the Cornishman last week. “… most modern improvements in sound reproduction and picture projection”. Well, he’s run through the film twice today, and it’s perfect. AldermanThomas has suggested One Night of Love and The Final Hour for the opening programme. It’ll run through three times a day, then a change on Thursday. The cheapest seats are only sixpence, and the pricing is quite a feature in the advert. Alderman Thomas doesn’t advertise in the local press himself, but he says the right price – and not having to walk to Penzance or pay the bus fare – is bound to pull ‘em in.

Mr Dobbin wonders idly whether to venture a joke at the expense of the Ritz. The Savoy was his first big enterprise in town, and Alderman Thomas was the man who put it on the map. It wouldn’t do any harm to please his landlord by poking a little fun at the flashy new rival. He tries out some wry comments about their programme this week – Cary Grant in The Awful Truth. Tempting, but perhaps better not. They do say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. And publicity is certainly something Alderman Thomas knows a thing or two about.

So, no mention of the Ritz. Instead, Mr Dobbin runs over his prepared phrases: he wants the Gaiety to be “in the nature of a family house… their cinema… would aim to meet their requirements as far as possible”. There’s bound to be scope for deflecting some of the Mayor’s inevitable praise for the renovations onto Alderman Thomas, who will be there to make the formal introductions.

Satisfied, Mr Dobbin heads home, dreaming of a bright future for cinema in Newlyn.

Cornishman June 8th 1938, page 2, June 29th 1938 page 3

The author would like to make clear that this is a largely imaginative piece. If anyone has interesting memories of cinema in the Penzance area, please get in touch

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Penwith Local History Group
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Growing Up in West Cornwall. A Publication by the Penwith Local History Group

"Growing Up in West Cornwall"

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