Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Standing in front of the Rivoli on Barlow Moor Road sometime in 1936

Now I can’t be certain when this photograph of the Rivoli on Barlow Moor Road was taken but given that the cinema opened in November 1936 and closed because of bomb damage four years later it will be sometime between the two.

And there are other clues to a possible date.

The first is the film Anthony Adverse which was released in the November of 1936 and will have been showing in suburban cinemas within the year.

It was a dreadful film based on an impossible plot heavy in morality and set in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

That said it featured infidelity, a mistress of Napoleon and the remorse of a slave trader who turned away from “that odious traffic in human flesh” and was set in lush tropical surroundings and magnificent European palaces.

Added to which it had the young Olivia de Havilland who at the age of 20 was starring in her fourth film having already acted with Errol Flynn in Captain Blood and who within the year would star in The Charge of the Light Brigade and later still The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex and that all time weepy that was Gone With the Wind.

The film had also picked up four Academy Awards so I guess had we been here back then we would have gone along.

And that might have been the motive for Mr Clarke of 83 Clarence Road to take the photograph and add it to his portfolio of images he marketed as picture postcards.*

After all if you had seen the film or just visited the cinema you might just be prompted to pick this card out of all the rest next time you wanted to send a message which is what postcard manufactures banked on.

Commercial photographers with an eye to what would sell toured local streets taking pictures of individual houses and offering them to the residents and when that market dried up offered them to postcard companies.

In the case of Mr Clarke he did both, producing the cards with his imprint and selling them to the local shops, including Mr Lloyd’s on Upper Chorlton Road and Mrs Burt’s stationers on Wilbraham Road.

He was active during the 1920s and into the 30s and produced a series of book marks for the opening of Central Ref.

By 1940 he “re-located the family home and ceased making his living solely from photography as a 1944 wedding certificate shows him as an Inland Revenue clerk residing at 5, Keppel Rd.”**

But during his time as a commercial photographer he produced some fascinating pictures of Chorlton, of which this is one that I have never seen before.

And for all those who have debated the actual location of the cinema there is no doubting that Mr Clarke’s picture nails it firmly on the spot now occupied by K.F.C.

What I also like is the detail of the two kiosks on either side of the entrance and that the Rivoli is one of those new picture houses which have fully embraced the motor car as the cark park sign indicates.

So that pretty much is that.

Picture; the Rivoli circa 1936-40 from the collection of Peter McLoughlin

*Harold Clarke, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Harold%20Clarke

**Tony Goulding, grandson

No comments:

Post a Comment