In Conversation: Moya Knight 1940s

Interviewee: Moya Knight

Interviewer: Christina Reading

Date of Interview: Friday 5th August

Moya Knight

Moya Knight is a Brighton resident. She shares memories of going to the cinema in Brighton as a young girl in the 1940s and reminisces of the cinema as a social affair.

An Overview of the cinema generally at this time

Moya talks about the Brighton and Hove cinema scene of the 1940s.

“All the cinemas were quite nice. Some were very posh actually…places like the Astoria and the Regent…and the lido at Hove, which had an organ. They were very interesting, very different cinemas all around Brighton and Hove.”

Her visits to the cinema are tied up with wartime memories, accompanying her sister and being delivered alarm calls.

“I do remember occasionally you’d get something on the screen saying siren alert…and you had to make your mind up whether you were going to stay or go…most people stayed.

Her husband was away in the army so I would accompany her to keep her company…she might go once a week or once a fortnight or something like that and I can’t remember what specific films I saw but they had a big variety of stuff on.”

On the social side of the cinema

Moya’s time at the cinema with her sister also evokes memories of the social side to the cinemas. She recalls her first date at the cinema as a five year old buying ice cream for a thruppence and her first time visiting the Duke of York with her sister.

“I do remember going there as quite a young girl, with my sister, because she lived around the corner at the time.

You usually saw somebody you knew in the cinema, especially if you went to the one nearest to you at home.”

Moya also recalls her feelings about smoking in the cinema, which she found to be quite antisocial.

“ [It’s] very unsocial was the smoking in the cinemas. Not when I was a child because there were child mornings but if you went in adult hours the first thing you noticed as you’d go into a cinema, the auditorium is full of smoke, which doesn’t happen these days. … You accepted it, once you walked in and got the first shock of it, you accepted it, because everybody smelt.”

She compares this to the cinemas today.

“Actually I wonder sometimes, yes the air wasn’t good but the floor was clean. These days when I go to the cinema I find that everybody’s eating…they’re either eating or they’re drinking and a great many of them leave their litter on the floor when they leave.”

On The Duke of York’s methods

Moya shares the Duke of York’s interesting payment methods she witnessed.

“At one time we used to pay at a counter and you would be given something like an old penny coin with a hole in the middle, which you then went to the actual entrance to the auditorium and you gave it to the girl waiting there, and she would thread it on a rope. And I’ve never seen that done anywhere else, otherwise you would normally just get a paper ticket.

It’s always been a quirky, shall we say, a quirky cinema, which I think is lovely, it’s an interesting cinema and now they have a very interesting spread of films.”

On The Duke of York’s future

Moya hopes that the Duke of York’s will endeavour and become a heritage site.

“It’s out of the normal run as a cinema and it appeals to quite a lot of people, and I would very much like to see it continue.”

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