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6 April 2009: Page 3


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The Old Trocadero Cinema

   

Whitstable has had a number of cinemas over the years but, ironically, the largest is perhaps the least known amongst younger Natives. I am referring, of course, to the Tankerton Trocadero - known affectionately as The Troc. 

The Troc was located at the corner of Marine Parade and St Annes Road (close to the tennis courts) and, although it  closed in the late 1940s or very early 1950s, the entrance and defunct  auditorium survived for many years after the last film was shown. Eventually, of course, much of the structure was removed. The photo below is an extract from an aerial shot kindly provided by Peter Dalrymple and it shows the site in modern times with the former location of the auditorium shaded in yellow...

   


Enlarged Extract from an aerial photo by Peter Dalrymple - Peter Dalrymple

   

It has long been our intention to include some details on the web site but we have repeatedly failed in our quest to gather documentary or photographic evidence of the enterprise. Fortunately, we can now start to put that right .... thanks to Ivan Knowles who has sent us a fascinating advertising flyer detailing the cinema's program "for August"....

   

     

   

If like me, you are no cinema buff, you may not recognise many of the star names or movie titles. However, don't put yourself down too much because there could be a very good reason for your apparent ignorance... and it concerns the date of the leaflet. We know it was published in "August"... BUT which one?

This is where we get involved in a bit of detective work. One of the dates is given as "Monday 3rd August".... and the "third" fell on a Monday in 1931, 1936, 1942, 1948 and 1953. Now, let's look at the list of films and their release dates...

  

On With The Show 1929 Paris 1929 Green Goddess 1930
Tons of Money 1930 Hell's Angels 1930 Abraham Lincoln 1930
What a Widow 1930 P.C Josser 1930 Sin Takes a Holiday 1930
Song of the West 1930 City Lights 1931 Sea Devils 1931

   

If we accept that the Troc lived up to its claim to be a "super cinema", we can perhaps assume that it showed the latest releases... and tentatively suggest that the leaflet may well have been published in August 1931. That would make it old. In fact , it would make it nearly 80 years old... and far too old for me to recall very many of those star names!  Well, that's my excuse anyway!

Now let's have some fun by examining extracts from the document. The "header" on the left tells us that the Troc was run by the large ABC (Associated British Cinemas) chain. 

The leaflet also tells us that the cinema's management was quite happy to go with the flow and use the local terminology, TROC, rather than the full title of "TROCADERO".... provided that it could boast about its "Western Electric Sound System". 

But... why would anyone boast about a sound system! Well, once again, the dates are significant. The world's  first true talkie film had been released just four years earlier. That was in 1927 when the famous film "The Jazz Singer" gave cinema its first voice.... that of Al Jolson. 

Despite this innovation, some people were clinging to the past and convincing themselves that there was still a major market for silent films. One of those was Charlie Chaplin who, in 1931, wrote, directed and starred in the film "City Lights". 

As you can see from the leaflet, the TROC accommodated Charlie amongst its "forthcoming attractions".... but, presumably, had to underutilise its posh new Western Electric Sound System to do so.

A waste? Well, maybe not.... because Chaplin received widespread acclaim for the production. Thus, whilst the silent movie may well have been approaching its death throes in August 1931, it still had a place in the hearts and minds of cinema audiences and critics alike.

Of course, the TROC was quite modest about another super-modern advancement. On Sunday 16 August, they were due to screen the 1929 film "On With the Show". I am told that this was the first "all colour" talkie film. Colour technology was an expensive process in film production and it would be another 20 years or more before it became the dominant force that it is today. 

If you take a moment to reflect at this point, you realise that Ivan's memento marks the early stages of an important period of transition in  both cinema development.... and Whitstable entertainment history.

Aided by sound and colour, that transition would herald a whole host of new film stars and productions that even I would recognise. With radio (or should I say "wireless") lacking the visuals and TV still some way off, the world and Whitstable were about to enter a golden era of cinema.

The TROC recognised the opportunities and cast its net beyond the town's boundaries.... to Faversham, Herne Bay and Canterbury.

It even published bus times and added the county title to its claim of being the "super cinema".

There had to be a way of putting bums on seats and, with a lot seats, the Troc needed a lot of bums. Bums were bums irrespective of where they came from.

Right... that is perhaps as far as we can go with Ivan's super memento for the moment.... but we can have a brief stab at the wider history of the Troc.  

   

The Troc Name... and the Native Angle 

   

In producing this article, I became increasingly fascinated by the word "Trocadero". There are some exotic explanations of the term. One suggests that it originated from the Battle of Trocadero in which French troops defeated a Spanish force.  Despite its perennial objections to Trafalgar Square, France celebrated by creating the Place de Trocadero in Paris . The "Place" was so splendid that the name was adopted for other splendid structures around the globe. 

Another idea is that Trocadero is a Portuguese word meaning a "place of exchange/trade". That's a bit more down to earth... but not as down to earth as the folk of central Whitstable when it came to the meaning of words. One story related in our Visitors book suggests that Natives of the 1930s interpretted TROC as "Tankerton Runs On Credit". This was a mischievous but lovely piece of local social history. 

Tankerton's rapid expansion in the first three decades of the twentieth century provided housing that many Natives could only dream about. Such houses had pleasant gardens (front and back!), bathrooms, inside toilets and possibly even hot taps. Tankerton became a place for professional and business people. It also gained a commuter population - many of whom wore suits to work and topped their attire with bowler hats. 

These weren't necessarily people who could afford to buy a house outright... BUT they were people who could attract a loan from a bank or building society. The concepts of loans and mortgages were quite alien to many working people of the time and they probably viewed such things as "debt" rather than a routine "financial arrangement"! The feeling was that "you didn't spend what you didn't have". If you did, you were living beyond your means and on "the road to ruin"! It would be some decades before attitudes changed.

Right up to the 1970s, there was a feeling that Tankerton was the posh bit of town and Whitstable the poor relation! Some people desperately clung to a Tankerton address and avoided using the word "Whitstable" in correspondence. Those that lived on the fuzzy boundary between the two localities tried to squeeze their house into the Tankerton bit! 

Oh how things have changed since then!

   

Tracing the History

   

Now let's try to piece together some of our own memories and draw on past contributions to our Visitors Book. If anyone can help with additional information or corrections, please get in touch.

   

When Did It All Start?

If my dating of Ivan's leaflet is correct, the cinema was operational in 1931. This ties in with the comment of John Harman in a Visitors Book entry of 2008.

  

I would say the Troc opened as a cinema in the very early '30s. I recall my elder brothers talking of having seen King Kong at that time. Then, later, Captain Courageous. 

I myself, as a toddler in the mid '30s, went with my elder sister Jacqueline on Saturdays to see the Shirley Temple pictures in which she sang (Shirley Temple that is) 'On the Good Ship Lollipop'. She also sang and danced to 'Horsey, Horsey, don't you stop'

John Harman
Sidney, BC
Canada

   

I suppose it is just possible that the cinema dates from 1930 or even the late 1920s - a few years before Ivan's leaflet came off the press at Rideouts printing works in Harbour Street. The reason for this is that the document refers to the cinema as the "Troc" rather than "Trocadero". I would not expect to see the shortened title on official documents until the cinema had become established in the local community. There is also no reference to the cinema being new. 

On the other hand, I don't believe that the cinema's history extended earlier than the very late 1920s. Substantial chunks of Tankerton were still being developed during that decade and there were rival cinema facilities in Whitstable High Street that would have happily mopped up the film trade in the heart of town. By 1930, it was a bit different with that golden era of cinema dawning and Tankerton becoming firmly established. The ABC cinema group was founded in 1927 and much of its expansion took place in the "thirties".

    

Location and Structure

From the outside, the cinema auditorium was a dour, oblong, "east-west" structure that looked like a factory. It was largely hidden from view - wedged behind the properties of Marine Parade (on its northern side) and Tankerton Road (to the south). However, its west wall could be seen quite clearly from St Anne's Road where it towered over the tennis court on the eastern side of the thoroughfare.

Like many cinemas, it had an impressive frontage... courtesy of some linked developments. Back in 2008, Michael Fitt explained this in a Visitors Book entry..... 

   

The cinema and shops were part of the Tankerton Grand Pavilion with the upper floors being apartments. 

The complex was owned by my grandfather G. J. Fitt and my family lived in one of the apartments for a number of years. My mother Dorothy Fitt was the manager of the Troc. 

The complex was sold by the family in the sixties. 

Michael Fitt 
Kansas City 
USA
2008

   

The front of the Tankerton Grand Pavilion was an imposing structure in Marine Parade with upper storey flats overlooking Tankerton Slopes and the sea. The ground floor comprised cafe/shop space and incorporated a "typical" cinema entrance with glass swing doors. This entrance linked to the more utilitarian auditorium building at the rear. The rough sketch below shows the likely layout.

  

 

  

It also shows the strong ties between the Trocadero/Tankerton Grand Pavilion and the Fitt family. Remember that Mr Arthur Fitt had established the Marine Hotel a short distance east along Marine Parade and, in nearby Tankerton Road, George Fitt Motors was becoming the town's biggest and most celebrated motor dealer. 

    

A Tankerton Cinema?

Interestingly, Ivan's 1931 leaflet specifies the cinema's location as "Tankerton" and excludes any reference to "Whitstable". This reaffirms the idea that many people viewed the area as a separate community in its own right rather than a suburb of its more established and historic neighbour. The arrival of the Troc must have added weight to that argument.

The Troc may also have helped to establish Tankerton's centre of gravity. Much of Tankerton was mapped out and developed on the extensive lands of the Tankerton Estate between the 1890s and 1920s. In his book "Portrait of a Seaside Town" (page 46 ISBN No: 0 9508564 4 4), Doug West points out that it was originally envisaged that the hub of the community would be based at the western end of Tankerton Road and along Pier Avenue. He also points out that it was hoped that a Tankerton railway station would be built near the Ham Shades Lane bridge on the London-Thanet line. Pier Avenue would then have provided visitors with an attractive approach to the shops and waterfront. There was even a short metal pier jutting into the sea adjacent to Pier Avenue for a short time - between 1894 and 1913. It seems that, at the start of the twentieth century, it was all coming together in a format consistent with other resort towns around the English coastline. 

As an aside, it is also worth drawing attention to a recent discussion in our Visitors Book in which we considered a long lost golf course that was opened on the lands of Highgate Farm by the South Tankerton Estate Company. It was located on a plot now occupied by the South Tankerton Housing Estate and the John Wilson Industrial Estate - ie wedged between Clover Rise and the Chestfield Road on the south side of the Old Thanet Way. From there, it swept south west across The Ridgeway to Grasmere Road. The club operated from 1908 until at least 1917 and its club house (in Richmond Road) would have been just a few hundred yards from the proposed Ham Shades Lane railway station. It seems that developers may have had grand plans for Tankerton - as a separate town along the lines of a new Eastbourne.

So, was Tankerton a town or a suburb? Well, its "feel" as a town never fully materialised.... and I suspect that was because it had insufficient time to establish its own identity and facilities before it was overtaken by events and outside influences. As Doug West points out in his book, Pier Avenue's planned role as a community hub was usurped by the natural development of a commercial centre further west along Tankerton Road - at Tankerton Circus. This centre included the enterprises of the Fitt family and other traders. Located within a stone's throw of "the circus", the massive Trocadero cinema re-affirmed that hub even if it wasn't around early enough to determine it. Meanwhile, Pier Avenue became something of a "misfit" road - much broader and more lavish than its nearby neighbours.

A number of factors played a part here and it is worth relating things to some of our  recent articles on local railways (click here for our Chat Column article of 10/11/08 on the subject of the Canterbury & Whitstable Railway). 

A Ham Shades Lane station may have provided access for visitors from London and Thanet but day trippers from Canterbury travelled on the Canterbury-Whitstable line and alighted at a harbour station that had existed in various forms since the line opened in 1830. That station was a long, long way from Pier Avenue.

On 1 January 1915 things became even more complicated when Whitstable mainline station (on the London-Thanet track) was relocated from Oxford Street to a more easterly site in Railway Avenue and Old Bridge Road. The new station had a linking path to a new Tankerton Halt platform (opened on 1 July 1914) on the Canterbury-Whitstable line. These new facilities could conveniently serve both Whitstable and Tankerton..... and handle passengers from both railway lines. This probably ensured that Tankerton's natural commercial hub would develop a short distance away at "The Circus" rather than at distant Pier Avenue. Any plan for a Pier Avenue centre and a Ham Shades Lane station was now effectively "dead in the water".... and the communities of Tankerton and Whitstable were destined to become inextricably linked.  

  

   

Of course, railway stations weren't the only factor. Tankerton was planned and mapped out artificially. As a result, it never really incorporated the full range of facilities associated with a natural community.  Of course, it eventually gained the Troc but there were no C of E churches, no major community centres, no true pubs and only limited recreational facilities for families. As a result, it remained dependent on Whitstable for many key services. (Note: I believe the Kingsdown Park area was originally an open space but even this was swiftly developed). Furthermore, with infill pushing the eastern boundary of Whitstable across the flood plain of the Gorrell Stream during the 1920s, any natural break between the communities disappeared before Tankerton could emerge as a town in its own right.

Of course, historians may take a different view and  I am sure that we will debate the matter many times in the future!!! Perhaps the answer is that Tankerton was a failed town.... but a successful suburb. This would be a fascinating conclusion because it might demonstrate that  planners don't have absolute control over their plans. Building an estate is the easy bit because it involves manipulating bricks and mortar. Building a complete town community is a bigger ball game altogether. You simply can't add people to your cement mixer. Well, you can but they may not want to buy one of  your houses after the experience! 

   

The Auditorium

John Harman recalls the Troc auditorium being somewhat unusual...

  

I recall that it was an extremely long theatre from front to back. In my mind, I vaguely remember it being shortened and re-opened for a while.

John Harman
Sidney, BC
Canada
200
4

  

Stories related to me by my mother also draw attention to some oddities. She told me that the auditorium was a massive hall with a flat floor and no tiered seating.  She also mentioned that the building served "as an indoor skating rink at one time". I have never been able to tie down the dates of the skating rink! Did it pre-date the cinema.... or did it operate in conjunction with the cinema? At the moment, I simply don't know.

  

The Troc in the 1930s...

I am not sure if the Troc operated continuously throughout the 1930s. However, a quick check of the films mentioned in our Visitors Book would suggest that it did. For example, the classic King Kong was released in 1933 and, regrettably Bright Eyes launched the Good Ship Lollipop in 1934. We also have additional  recollections that trace the cinema's lifespan into the latter part of the decade....

  

"I saw Snow White & the 7 at the Troc but I can't remember when". 

Tom Swire 2005

"In 1937, I also saw Snow White and her group of seven. I was in the charge of my elder sister. As was the case with all frightening scenes, like that horrible witch, I would hide my face in her lap!"

John Harman 2005

  

The Troc and War

Unlike some establishments, wartime brought a temporary halt to the Troc's cinema activities. This was probably prompted by the fact that it had a large flat floor suitable for industry and  access to the skilled services of the George Fitt Motor/Engineering company...

  

The Troc was closed at the outbreak of the war and used by Fitts for war work. 

It was then that a portion was walled off to house the Fire Station and an Air Raid Warden Post.  

John Harman

  

The fire station remained a feature of Marine Parade into the 1950s.

  

The Troc/Embassy Post War 

The cinema re-opened soon after the  war with some celebration..... and a new name. The event is recalled by a number of our readers....

  

"I am pretty sure the Troc re-opened after the war in the late 1940s and was renamed the Embassy after major refurbishment. So, for a brief period, we had three cinemas. I don't think the Embassy lasted more than a couple of years." 

Geoff Kemp 
Washington DC
2005

"The Trocadera cinema opened, with much ballyhoo, in, I think, the late forties. I do remember the opening movie - "The Red Shoes" starring Moira Shearer. However, the theatre didn't function for long. I've never known why-- maybe lack of patronage?"  

Rosemary Gilbert
San Francisco
USA
2008

"I am sure that I went to the cinema in Tankerton when I was a lad. I must have been about 5 or 6 at the time. That was after the war (1946/47).

I could be wrong but I am sure I went with an older brother one Saturday afternoon. There was only a handful of people in there. The entrance was by the tennis court."

Brian Lindridge 
Sherborne 
Dorset
2004

   

I believe the renaming  was marked by a large "Embassy" sign high on the cinema's west wall - overlooking the tennis courts. This remained long after the cinema closed and it wasn't the only wall sign to provide a reminder of the the Troc in later years.... as Mike Bune recalls....

  

On the wall of the cinema, overlooking the tennis courts, was written something like "Matinees 3d" in red lettering. The rest was too faded to read. 

Mike Bune
Corfe Castle
Dorset

    

Loss of the Troc...

As yet, we do not know precisely when the cinema closed. It may  have survived into the very early 1950s but certainly not beyond that.

The timing of the closure is interesting because it is somewhat different from other cinemas nationwide. Most establishments met their demise much later and were able to blame TV for the loss of customers. By contrast, the Troc disappeared before the small screen had started to dictate the layout of a "living" room. 

Perhaps the Troc buckled under competition from Whitstable's two major town centre cinemas - The Oxford (Oxford Street) and the Argosy/Regal (High Street). Both competitors had enlarged and refurbished their premises during the 1930s - The Oxford in 1936 and the Argosy/Regal in 1937. By comparison, The Troc may have been too big and too "out of the way" to cope.

     

The Building in Later Years...

I believe the Troc building may have been put to industrial use after the cinema disappeared. (In fact I wonder if it was used by Toogood & Jones who manufactured a well known magnetic football game. If anyone, can confirm that, please let me know).

One idea for its redevelopment was quite exciting.... but I am not sure that it was either official or even very serious. It suggested that the Troc could become a sports centre. With a seafront position, attractive entrance, vast hall and nearby "all weather" tennis courts, it had a lot going for it. However, I would imagine that costs would have been prohibitive.

The Pavilion complex was sold by the Fitt family in the 1960s. The impressive Tankerton Grand Pavilion building (fronting Marine Parade) was refurbished as seafront apartments - minus the cinema entrance and fire station. 

   


The Tankerton Grand Pavilion in, Marine Parade during 2002. 
No sign remains of the old cinema entrance

   

At the rear, the Troc auditorium was demolished and cleared to provide apartment owners with private parking. One remnant of it remains. The lower half of its western fascia now serves as a dividing wall between the car park and the adjacent tennis court.   

  


View from St Anne's Road in 2002. The grey "wall"
 is the lower section of the Troc's old west fascia

   

Part of Our Global History

 

As you can see, we have been able to link Ivan's leaflet into so many of our other discussions and articles. It has taken us a further step to Simply Whitstable's ultimate goal - a global history of our town. I hope I live long enough to see it completed!!!! 

  

Other Whitstable Cinemas

  

Before we leave the subject, it is worth mentioning the town's other cinemas....

The Oxford Located in Oxford Street, this cinema began life in 1912 as the Oxford Picture Hall. However,  it was rebuilt in art deco style in 1936. 

During the late 1950s, it introduced live talent contests to boost custom. Through such innovations and a better set of radiators, it outlived its biggest rival (The Regal) and continued until 1984 when it became the Bingo Hall of today - a transformation that has allowed it to retains its cinema appearance.. 

The Regal Located in the High Street, it was originally known as the "Picture House". However, it was revamped in 1937 when it traded as the Argosy. After World War II, its name changed yet again ...  to The Regal.

It closed in the 1960s and the building was refurbished as a supermarket. The fascia was revamped and it lost its art deco and cinema appearance However, it still managed a few small pieces of Whitstable history.....by becoming the town's first major supermarket (Fine Fare)... and providing the towns' first Chinese Restaurant (The Jasmine Tree) on the upper floor. It may also have been the first local retail outlet to join the 1960s craze of giving trading stamps. In the case of Fine Fare, they were S&H Pink Stamps rather than the better known Greenshield variety.

The supermarket has since changed hands and now trades as Somerfield. 

Palais de Luxe This was located at the corner of Harbour and Victoria Streets. However, it was dual purpose - trading primarily a theatre but with the ability to show films.

It became Daveys Furniture store and, later, Fields Furniture shop. It is now a small shopping mall with mews properties at the rear.

Lawn Pavilion This was located on Tankerton Slopes opposite the old Tankerton Hotel. It started life as an open air stage but eventually  became a modest, utilitarian single storey building. It was primarily a theatre for small variety productions but we do have evidence that it showed some films in the late 1930s. 

Why would the Lawn Pavilion become involved in the cinema business when the Troc was just a few hundred yards over the hill? Well, it could be that it was desperate to keep afloat. On the other hand, was it because the Troc had already closed down in the lead in to World War II?

In the 1950s, The Lawn Pavilion was used as an annex by the nearby Dunlem School (Tankerton Road) before being demolished. 

The space created by the demolition served as a picnic area and children's playground. These facilities were popular with customers of the Tankerton Hotel. Following closure of the hotel, the land became no more than a grass extension of Tankerton Slopes. 

Imperial Oyster Cinema This was a relatively recent innovation created by the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company - presumably in response to an upturn in the cinema trade during the latter part of the twentieth century. 

It traded around the late 1990s and early 2000s from the upper floor of the old Oyster Store at the Horsebridge and received a whole heap of plaudits (both within and outside the town) for its historic location and unique atmosphere. It also had the advantage of a bar at the rear and the famous Oyster Company restaurant on the floor below.

It closed around the time of the Horsebridge redevelopment.

  

The Horsebridge redevelopment plans included an option for a new cinema but there were no commercial takers. Thus, when  the Imperial Oyster facility closed, Whitstable was left without a cinema and local "film goers" now make use of multi-screen facilities at Canterbury, Ashford and Westwood (Thanet). It's a far cry from the days when the Troc attempted to attract folk FROM these areas back in '31.

  

Our Thanks

   

On behalf of all Simply Whitstable readers I would like to say a big thank you to Ivan Knowles for taking the toruble to scan and forward such a lovely memento of Whitstable's history. I would also like to thank John Harman, Peter Dalrymple, Michael Fitt, Tom Swire, Geoff Kemp, Rosemary Gilbert, Brian Lindridge and Mike Bune whose contributions have enabled us to piece together and document some of the fascinating history of the old Troc.

     

Reader Comments on Troc Article....

  

We have received the following messages on the article...

   

Some years ago, I wrote to you and said my sister had taken me to the Troc (or the Embassy as it would have been by then) in the mid 40`s to see Pinocchio. At the time, I think you said that you thought it hadn`t been released until the 60`s with the Yawning Man. I was wondering whether I had got it wrong but on TV recently there was an advert that said Pinocchio was celebrating its 70th birthday. I think that the Yawning Man was added later.

Rosemary Gill
Yeovil
Somerset

Our response: 

Thanks, Rosemary. I must apologise if my earlier remarks were in anyway misleading. I have found one past Visitors Book entry in which I said...

"As for Pinocchio, I remember seeing it at the Oxford.... when the Yawning Man had everybody going in the audience". 

I was very young at the time that I first saw the film and it would have been no later than the early-to-mid 1950s.

As you rightly point out, Pinocchio was first released much earlier - in 1940. It was Disney's second feature length animation and it took a long time to make. This was partly because it was one of the company's most sophisticated productions. However, it was also because Walt Disney was unhappy with some of the characters and insisted on amendments. All this meant that the first release incurred a loss.

Since then, it has been re-released many times. One re-release date was in 1954 and I suspect that this was when my parents took me to the Oxford. I am not sure how much the film was altered for each release.

I hope to turn the Chat Column article into a permanent item on the Troc and I will add your quote to it. I am afraid that in trawling through the Visitors Book I missed it first time around.

      

Hi Dave, 

Looking at all the "Troc" adverts the item that struck me was "Phone Whitstable 20" near the top of the advert that featured "Western Sound". I could just picture a rotary dial phone complete with all the little clicks as it returned to zero after each number dialed and perhaps some person, likely the fountain of all knowledge, pulling out and reinserting a cable on a switchboard.

Given the number was Whitstable 20, it must have been quite early days for the local phone system.

Bill D.

Our response: 

Thanks, Bill. By the 1950s, things had become more sophisticated around town. In our last Chat Column, we featured adverts from Jacky Evans' copy of the local Festival of Britain program. By then, George Fitt Motors were using three 4-digit numbers - 2244 2245 and 2246. However, Swalecliffe was still a little short on handsets as the number of the Wheatsheaf public house was.... Chestfield 10

In those days, I suspect that there was a village bobby. I wonder if his phone number was 99.... or, perhaps, just 9.

We have been sent other collections of old ads and we will try to feature some in forthcoming Chat Columns.

   

The Lawn Pavilion

I remember  going to my first panto in the Castle Pavilion - it must have been 1949. As you say, it was taken over by a school after that. It was Babes in the Wood and Sandy Sandford was in it. He sang 'All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth'. I remember it because my younger sister was losing her baby teeth and we used to sing it to wind her up!

Roberta Grieve
Chichester
Sussex

Our response: Thanks, Roberta. Sandy Sandford was quite a character in Whitstable and he appeared at a number of different venues. (PS As it is some time since the Troc article was published, I have replicated your message in the site Visitors Book)

   

The Lawn Pavilion

I went to the Lawn Pavilion before the war and during the war. The usual star was Tommy Keele who appeared with the Jollity Boys which included his wife and his son Alec. 

He was also a glazed tiler & tiled most of the bungalows in the estate at Swalecliffe where he lived. During the war, he was called up & ran a concert party for the Green Howards Regiment called the Green Tree Follies. He managed to hold a concert at the Lawn Pavilion for the forces and Home Guard. My Father Claud being an Home Guard Officer was invited.  He was a great friend of Tommy's. I also managed to be invited.......

Derek Gann
Whitstable

Our response: Thanks, Derek. I have replicated your message in the Visitors Book (entry date 19/5/09) along with that of Roberta Grieve (above)

   

The Lawn Pavilion

I was born in 1945 in Tankerton, and lived there until I moved to London in 1963. We lived in Fitzroy Road, which is the road going south on the other side of Tankerton Road from the site of the Troc.

I remember going to a children's tea party in the Troc to celebrate the Queen's coronation in 1953.  We sat a a long table for our tea, and everyone received a commemorative plate, cup and saucer.

Susan Ward
Uxbridge
Ontario
Canada
12/8/09

Our response: Thanks, Susan. I reckon the Troc would have been ideal for a Coronation party because of its large flat floor. 

As it is some time since the above article was published, I have replicated your message in the Visitors Book to ensure that it gets a wide audience. 

   

Re: The Oxford Cinema Whitstable 

It would be good if this cinema was re-opened, as Whitstable has none now. It is a good surviving example of a 1930's Art Deco Auditorium , now so rare these days. 

Having seen the destruction of the old Odeon in Canterbury, we do not wish the same fate here.  It must be preserved as the Oxford contributes to the 1950's street scene, which is the chief attraction of Whitstable. The cinema would give our young people something to do.  There is ample car parking to the rear of the cinema.  Admittedly the building would have to be updated to comply with modern Building Regulations and Health and Safety requirements, ie to install a lift for disabled access to the former circle.

Jonathan Baker
Whitstable

Our response: Many thanks, John. It is a shame that a town of 30,000 people has no cinema and it would be great to see the Oxford showing films even if it was on a part time basis. 

As the Troc article was published some time ago, I have added your comments to the Visitors Book (entry date 11/11/09) to allow others to comment on your ideas. 

   

 

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