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Memories of The Cenie

Cordelia May Gandy and the Century Cinema

Memories: Response to query on Facebook, Widnes Past and Present. (Names omitted)

The connection with Miss Gandy and the Century, Picturedrome and Empire was that Len Platt, who owned S Owens and Son was also part owner of the cinemas, and Miss Gandy used to keep an eye on them. Miss Gandy was a very well known and respected lady, she would stand at the back of the cinema and make sure we all behaved ourselves. She was a very hard act to follow when I took her job on at the estate agents. The office was in Victoria Road then. When Mr Platt retired and Jim Geering took over, the office was moved to Albert Road.

My first job after leaving school was at S. Owens and Son. About 1966, and Jim Geering was the proprietor then.

Wasn’t the Century known as the flea pit by some Widnes people

Never went in Anthony but was told it was a tanner at the front on orange boxes and a bob at the back in the posh seats. I believe they were hard with no stuffing in them. If I’m wrong somebody will put me right I’m sure. Ade Coyne the glass merchant owned the Century picturedrome and I think the Empire picture houses. He used to live in that big house in Highfield Road by the school .


My great aunt had a shop opposite the Cennie, as a child I used to go there. She would give me some sweets and the money to go in, never very impressed from what I can remember as I would be about 8 or 9 at the time.


The Century was officially opened by the Mayor of Widnes Ald P Caldwell on September 2, 1922. Tickets cost 9d, 6d, 3d. The Century, described as the cosy little cinema in the west, closed in 1959. I think it was the first of the Widnes cinemas to close as a result of falling audiences with the arrival of the telly. The front stalls were unpadded wooden seats. It must have been the smallest of the cinemas and was probably not helped by its location in the middle of West Bank. By the 1950s people had started to leave West Bank for new estates in places like Ditton. The Picturedrome also closed in 1959.


The cinema was in West Street, West Bank, Widnes. Please ignore the remarks about it being a flea pit and the one about orange boxes, the Century was neither of those things. I used to attend the cinema at least twice weekly, because I lived a few streets away, and we are going back to the days before television, in the fifties. The cinema had wooden seats at the front, which were the cheap seats (5p) there were seats in the middle which were nice material covered seats (9p) and then there were the best seats at the rear (1/6p) which were red velvet. I was one of five children, and Miss Gandy knew us all by name. Miss Gandy as she was known was very well respected as I said before, and she always got that title, she was never called by her first name, at least not as far as I can remember, even from my mum and dad, she was very well spoken and was always dressed perfectly, and may I say, always wore the best perfume. I had an aunt who was very much like her, and they were good friends. From what I can recall, Miss Gandy worked originally for Sammy Owens, who owned the estate agents, When he died, Leonard Platt took it over, and he owned the three cinema’s, I don’t know whether Sammy owned them previously, but I do know that Mr Platt and his 2 brothers owned them when I worked there. My aunty went to a licence victuallers too, in 1956 as my grandmother owned a local pub, and told me that she had been speaking to Miss Gandy and she was looking for someone to take her place at the estate agents because she wanted to retire. As I had just finished my 12 months course at a commercial college, she put my name forward. I went for an interview and got the job. I loved it there, Mr Platt was a well known tenor, and he used to sing as he walked around the office, he had a beautiful voice. I will try and find out more about Miss Gandy, and get back to you, I seem to remember a photo of her somewhere within my family. What relation were you to her Eric if you don’t mind me asking. By the way, my sister Irene lives in Oshawa, and she also knew Miss Gandy, do any of her relations live near to Oshawa.

What an interesting story. It must have taken you a great deal of time and energy to get everything together, its a first class website. I keep promising myself I will do the same with my family. My name before marriage was Manning. We lived opposite to St Mary’s church in the villas, my youngest sister still lives there. My three sisters and brother all remember Miss Gandy, and I will try and get some more memories of her from them. I took over from her in 1957, I was only 15. Attached is a photo of the Century. I will keep looking for more photos for you.

The picture of the Cenie what a find!  Notice the date of the building 1922, my dad was born 1923 and his brother 1924 thinking they probably went to the pictures there?  Can’t remember what the inside looked like, but remember Grandad and I would sit with Auntie May and she would get us lolly ices.  The last picture I went to with Grandad was “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” with Marilyn Monroe, around 1954.   They play it sometimes on the Turner Classic movies and I’m sure it was not for children but in those days they didn’t really think about that.  Gives me nice memories of me and my Grandad Gandy he was the best!  Can’t believe the response you are getting especially from Ann Campbell.  By the way there is a place Oshawa in Toronto. Gr. Grandad Charles lived with Gr. Auntie May he probably went to the Theatre.  Trying to get hold of my Auntie May and maybe she can give us more info.  E-mailed my cousin in Hough Green as her husband lived near the Theatre, but have not had a reply.  Wondering what the road address to the cinema was?

The Companies Acts, 1908 to 1917.

The CENTURY PICTURE PALACE COMPANY Limited.

NOTICE is hereby given, pursuant to section 188 of the Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908, that a Meeting of creditors of the above named Century Picture Palace Company Limited, West-street, Widnes, will be held at 7, Sweetingstreet, Liverpool, on the twenty-eighth day of August, 1923, at 2.30 p.m. for the purposes provided for in the said Section—Dated 18th August, 1923.

WILMOT WELCH, Liquidator (Denton, Son and Welch, Chartered Accountants, 7, Sweeting-street, Liverpool).

THE LONDON GAZETTE, 24 AUGUST, 1923

CENTURY PICTURE PALACE CO. Ltd. (In Voluntary Liquidation.)

NOTICE is hereby given, that a General Meeting of the Members of the above named

Company will be held at the offices of Messrs. Denton, Son & Welch, 7, Sweeting-street, Liverpool, on Thursday, the eighteenth day of September, 1924, at 2.30 o’clock in the afternoon precisely, to receive the report of the Liquidator, showing how the winding-up of the Company has been conducted, and its property disposed of, to hear any explanations that may be furnished by the Liquidator, and to pass an Extraordinary Resolution as to the disposal of the books, accounts and documents of the Company.—Dated this ll th day of August, 1924.

WILMOT WELCH, Liquidator.

THE LONDON GAZETTE, 15 AUGUST, 1924.

I also have as photo of the Cenie being knocked down. After the cinema closed, it was used by Ladylove, a local joinery business, making fitted kitchens.