I seem to remember that the cost of the Saturday
Morning Pictures was a tanner - ie sixpence or 6 old pennies.
I suppose I must have been about eight years old when I started going
to Saturday Morning Pictures. So that would have been about 1947, two
years after the end of the Second World War. My mother encouraged me
because she had so enjoyed Saturday
Pictures in her own Edwardian childhood.
Our Saturday Morning Pictures in Edgware, north London, where I grew
up, was hugely popular and relatively cheap. The crush of hundreds of children trying to get out at the end of
the morning was one of the many witnesses to its success. One Saturday morning, I lifted my feet off the ground, just to see how far I would be carried
by the sheer force of everyone pressing around me. It was quite a distance!
The ABC Minors
The excitement of ABC Minors Saturday morning pictures!
First the queue; then the orderly rush into the
'theatre' with its plush seats and impressive, decorated facades. You could feel the growing anticipation: a virtually full Ritz cinema (not the balcony) with hundreds of excited, expectant school kids, all waiting for the performance to begin.
Then the manager addressed us by speaking from the warmly lit stage.
Next the lights dimmed, the screen lit-up, the music started, and all of us began singing – or perhaps shouting would be the better word - the ABC Minors song at the top of our voices!
The song was sung to the sound of a band playing the marching music ‘Blaze Away’. The words were as follows (or very similar).
We are the boys and girls well known as
Minors of the ABC
And every Saturday all line up
To see the films we like, and shout aloud with glee
We like to laugh and have a singsong
Such a happy crowd are we.
We're all pals together.
We're minors of the A-B-C.
The final line was shouted at full blast – especially the A-B-C.
I think we sung the verse twice.
There weren’t any problem remembering the words or keeping time because the text was shown on the screen and a little
'ball' bounced along above the words in time with the music. I have a feeling that, in the beginning, the text and ball must have been
white on a black background, but I think they ended up as yellow on a green or blue background.
Our local cinema in Edgware was the
Ritz, which was
part of the ABC group. We children who patronised the Saturday Morning
Pictures were encouraged to be 'members', known as the ABC Minors, and
we were given a special badge. We even had our own song which we sang at the beginning of the shows.
The National Anthem was played at the end, for which everyone stood.
ABC Minors badge, courtesy of Tony Woods.
The Saturday Morning Pictures programme
As I recall, a typical ABC Minors programme was made up of two sections:
First a few cartoons and/or short funny films (including silent ones).
Then a film, or maybe two shorter films.
The programmes consisted of cartoons, regular films and serials to encouraged us to go along
on the following Saturday - not that
we needed much encouragement. It didn't really matter what was shown anyway,
pictures with sound were fascinating and there was only this one place where
we could see them.
This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in early to mid 20th century Britain, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times. It is © Pat Cryer.