Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Memories of the Scala Cinema

The Scala, affectionately known as the fleapit, opened in 1922 and had 500 seats. The exterior had a rough-cast finish with grand imitation marble pillars at the entrance and ran a continuous programme from early afternoon through the evening, later to include Sunday evenings. The first manager was Mr Milsom.

In the 1960’s the cinema was sold to Star Associate Holdings who renamed it The Plaza and modernised it. Later it was demolished and replaced by a supermarket (now Iceland).

According to the local press a license for cinematograph exhibitions has been granted by the County Council to Mr. A. Hill for the Scala Cinema, available from December 22nd 1921 to the 31st July 1922.

In January 1922 the films being advertised were “Demos” starring Milton Hosmer, and “Three Gold Coins,” a comedy starring Tom Mix.  In March that year they were showing “In the Dark” and “Desert Love.”

On Thursday and Friday 18th & 19th May 1922, performances were given at the Scala Theatre by the Ryde Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society of the farcical comedy “Facing the Music.”  Mr. HILL was again complimented upon his stage arrangements and the excellent acoustic properties of the building for theatre performances.  The comedy was one of the most whimsical and laughable that could have been selected.  So not only films were on offer at this venue.  At that time this new cinema was vying for business with the Ryde Cinema and the Theatre Royal, but there appeared to be plenty of customers for the three picture houses and they were popular places of entertainment.

Advert IW Times 10 Nov 1960

A few memories from the 1960’s and 1970’s

“It hosted Saturday morning pictures. The show generally consisted of a newsreel, one or two Looney Tunes cartoons and a short film followed by the main feature. This feature was often a cowboy film featuring such dynamic duos as The Lone Ranger and Tonto or the Cisco Kid and Pancho.” (Arthur)

“I went to the children’s Saturday morning pictures, it cost 6d. to go in. Children would take their own sweets, as the only ones that were any good to buy were the Poppets. When it was somebody’s birthday, they were called out to the front and given a blue badge with a white star on it. The older children who were allowed up in the circle would throw their lolly sticks on to us children below and as the sticks went through the lights it would show on the screen.” (Hazel)

“I went to Saturday morning pictures, first when the cinema was called the Scala, I paid 3d to go in. When it was taken over by Star Entertainments, they called it the Plaza, and charged 6d to go in. There was usually a film, a couple of cartoons, and a serial. I remember “Shazam, Flash Gordon”, and “Green Hornet”. A lady came round in the intermission to sell ice-cream and ice-lollies.” (Marilyn)

“On Saturday morning children’s pictures, there was sometimes an extra performance in the interval, one time I remember a Yo-Yo demonstration with many people performing really complicated tricks on the stage.” (Ron)

Many thanks to Arthur, Hazel, Marilyn and Ron for sharing their memories with us.

Sources: IW Observer, IW County Press
Image: RSHG Archive

Article: Ann Barrett