In Conversation: Jean Drew Bear 1949- 1976

In conversation
Interviewee:  Jean Drew Bear
Interviewer: Christina Reading
Date of interview: 26 April 2009

Jean Drew Bear Audio

Jean started work as an usherette at the Dukes in 1949 just before her 17th birthday.

“I saw an advert in the paper, I rang up and I had an interview with the then manager, It is not a very hard job being an usherette. I was always interested in the cinema, I was always in the cinema. I just liked films.”

She describes how her job as an usherette
“You used to have to show people to the seat for a start – now they just tear your ticket and you find your own seat . I don’t know how they get away with all the things- you were very concerned in those days with if they had an accident you were liable . In those days we had a doorman that tore the tickets unless of course we were short staffed in which case mixed in a bit but we didn’t really tear tickets . We also used to go out with the ice cream tray .”

Jean also worked in the sweet shop
“We served the outside customers as well as the people that came to the cinema. We had two entrances, we had a shop door on the outside – where the office is currently that was my shop . Everybody came in the Dukes! Even if they weren’t watching a film. They would come in from the outside trade on their way home “.

Jean married Peter Drew Bear ,a former chief projectionist and future owner of the Dukes .
‘Mrs Bradshaw put the place up for sale and Miles Bradshaw he used to own the continental, he put in an offer for it . Peter said to me what are we going to do?  .I said you know more about it than anybody else , why don’t we but it and so that what we did  . That’s how it all happened, Peter and I ran the Dukes.”

Challenging times – the early 1970s
“It was a few years and the cinema entered more difficult times television and so forth and lots of the locals , the house behind the London Road which were our clientele they were pulled down ; That was in the 1960’s. Peter thought we ought to have another stepping stone so we bought a shop in the Lewes Road which I ran . Peter stayed at the Dukes as manage” .

Despite the challenges Jean describes a rich social life built around the managers and owners of the Brighton cinemas.
“There was an association called the entertainments managers association which Harry Jacobs, he used to own the Embassy cinema and we all got together, the managers and later on it got to be the hoteliers. We used to have a Christmas luncheon and probably a social do in the summer, a gift as a contribution to a charity .We used to talk things over and all the managers got together to discuss what was going on ‘.

If you would like to listen to the complete interview  please contact Christina Reading

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