Gaiety Cinema

Photo:Gaiety Cinema under construction in 1937

Gaiety Cinema under construction in 1937

Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove

A bus ride to see Tarzan

By Joan Cumbers

Anywhere downstairs for 9d

In the late 1940s and early 1950s the best place for ‘Moulsecoombites’ to go to the pictures (as we called it) was The Gaiety in Lewes Road. The main reason for this was that it was a penny bus ride as opposed to ‘threeha'pence’ ride into the town. We also walked to save the fare which we spent on 2ozs of sweets from the cheap sweet shop on Lewes Road opposite the barracks. Another advantage was you could sit anywhere downstairs for 9d (3+1/2p) or upstairs for 1s (5p).

Tarzan was my favourite

There were three different programmes per week, Mon -Weds, Thurs-Sat and Sunday. Each programme had two films and started with the 'B' film, then the Pathe News, trailers for the coming week, the Pearl & Dean advertisements, then the main film. The whole thing lasted about three hours. I loved the Tarzan films and once saw the whole film twice in one sitting because my sister had insisted she needed 'to go' during the most exciting part.

Glorious technicolour

Mum only allowed us to go to the pictures on the promise that we stay together all the time, so all three of us, my little brother as well, had to traipse to 'Ladies'. So we stayed to see the part we had missed. Our mother, with an usherette flashing her torch along the rows, came and claimed us at about 8pm. Mum wasn't best pleased with my explanation that we were waiting to see the bit we had missed. I saw many wonderful films at the Gaiety, musicals next to Tarzan were a favourite of mine. The music and dancing in glorious technicolour lightened up my world, and I lived in the hope of being 'discovered'.

This page was added on 20/01/2013.
Comments about this page

I used to live in Hollingbury and the first time I ever went to the pictures was to this cinema to watch Whistle down the wind with Hayley Mills. I went with a friend and we danced all the way back up to Ditchling Road to catch the trolley bus home! As we both thought we were Hayley Mills (happy days)!

By Heather Fill (21/03/2013)

I know just what you mean Heather.

By Joan Cumbers (22/03/2013)

The Gaiety was my introduction to cinema in the early 1950s. I loved the sepia photos of the 'stars' that adorned the curved wall as you walked in. I saw all the A and B films of that time, and I remember seeing Whistle Down the Wind at the Gaiety.

By Barbara Knowles (23/03/2013)

The curved wall with the pictures of the stars on is still there behind the garage.

By Bill Timson (19/10/2013)

Where exactly do you mean, Bill? Surely there is a road behind the garage now. I would love to see the wall if it is still there.

By Alan Hobden (20/10/2013)

Hi Alan, Yes it is more behind the public hous. - the owners have now put up a fence but for a long time you could see from the road.

By Bill Timson (20/10/2013)

Hi again Alan, your comment threw me a little so went to the Gaiety site and sure enough my eyes were not playing tricks on me,  you can still see the wall -  its behind the fence; there are a couple of panels missing. Look through the hole and yes,  it's there still, painted white. Now has some graffti on it. Cheers Bill.

By Bill Timson (20/10/2013)

It's a shame the Gyratory was put in as everything seems so congested there. Having worked for Caffyns and Firestone Tyre and Auto across the road, it was early enough to catch a film at the Gaiety. Having left Brighton over 30 years ago and still visit mum in Moulsecoomb fortnightly I find Brighton a nightmare and I hope it sorts itself out. Would the last comment from Bill Timson be the Bill Timson that worked at Withdean Sports Track and Stanmer/Wild Park?

By Roger Dobson (23/10/2013)

Hi Bill. Many thanks for that extra information. I will certainly take a look when I am next over that way. My late father was manager at the Gaiety from 1 March 1959 (taking over from Mr Lovely), so I knew it very well. He stayed there until 1967, when Bingo took over.

By Alan Hobden (25/10/2013)

In my day you used to stand outside and ask an adult to take you in, if you were not allowed in because of your age. Once in the cinema I always went with my mates to the front. I remember the ice cream lady with the little light on the front of her tray walking around in the interval. I spent many happy hours there on wet and cold days. In March 1959 I was 15yrs old.

By Bill Timson (27/10/2013)

Hi Roger - nice to hear from you. Yes, it's me from Withdean Stadium. Give me your email

By Bill Timson (28/10/2013)

I used to live in Shanklin Road,my sister was Valerie Reeves. The first film my Dad said I could go to the pictures to see was in the afternoon, and it was The Young Ones, Cliff Richard and I am watching it now on TV.Happy days and happy memories.

By Sally Feest (29/12/2014)