LOOKING BACK: 'My idyllic childhood during golden age of cinema in Sheffield'

Vicky Muff flicks through old photos of the Picture Palace
Vicky Muff flicks through old photos of the Picture Palace

If you had to pick the best place to spend your childhood, the cinema would surely rank a close second behind the sweet shop for generations of youngsters.

So Vicky Muff, whose parents ran an old picture house in Sheffield and a newsagents, must have been the envy of her classmates.

Vicky's grandfather Leonard Wadsworth (far right) and dad Victor Wadsworth (far right) outside Tinsley Picture Palace in Sheffield

Vicky's grandfather Leonard Wadsworth (far right) and dad Victor Wadsworth (far right) outside Tinsley Picture Palace in Sheffield

She was just eight years old when Tinsley Picture Palace closed in 1958, but those idyllic years surrounded by the magic of cinema fuelled a lifelong love affair with the golden oldies she remembers watching there.

Now aged 66, she took a trip down memory lane after reading in The Star about an event in Tinsley celebrating cinema's 'golden age' at the Picture Palace, where she recalls falling asleep in the back row as a young girl with the silver light still flickering across her drooping eyelids.

"I used to watch all the films there. I think the first one they showed in Technicolor was The Robe (a 1953 epic about a Roman who wins Jesus' robe after the crucifixion)," she said.

"I remember going every night while my parents worked there, and falling asleep at the back of the cinema.

Tinsley Picture Palace was open from 1912 to 1958

Tinsley Picture Palace was open from 1912 to 1958

"Before the film started and before any customers were in the building I loved to change the colours on the curtains, and at the end of the performance I would help to put up all the seats.

"My dad told me about the man who used to play piano to accompany the silent films. He ended up with a shop in Chesterfield selling organs."

Vicky would not be here without the Picture Palace,in Sheffield Road, as it was there her father met her mother Hazel, who was working as an usherette at the time.

Vicky's grandfather Leonard Wadsworth owned the cinema, along with another in Wincobank, and when he died they passed to her dad Victor and his brother.

During the Second World War, the male projectionists were called up to fight and Hazel took their place.

Throughout the conflict, Vicky says her parents never closed the Picture House, even during bombing raids, as it helped boost morale on the home front.

"They used to get information to say there was a bomber coming up the coast towards Yorkshire, and they had to put a notice on the screen to say 'you stay here at your own risk'," she said.

"But people used to stay in their seats and it never got bombed. My parents must have been very brave to keep it open when you could hear Sheffield being bombed."

After the Picture Palace closed, no longer able to compete with television, her parents focused on running their other business - a newsagents in Rotherham.

Vicky, who works part-time in patient transport at Rotherham Hospital, says she rarely visits the cinema these days but loves watching classic films on TV.

"My love of those old films was bred in me during those years at the Picture Palace," she said.

"I would watch the films with my mum and she would tell me all the actors' names and point out when the reel was changing because you could see a little dot in the corner of the screen."

Vicky contacted The Star after reading in the paper about a special screening at Tinsley Community Centre on April 27 in memory of the Picture Palace, which opened in 1912 and had 1,500 seats.

The article included a photo featuring her grandfather and dad at the cinema, which got her feeling all nostalgic.