The Mayfair cinema, College Road

Memories of the Mayfair cinema, 482 College road, Perry Common

Charles Southall, formerly of Kingstanding Road recalls trips to the cinema as a child in the 1940’s and 50’s. “ We used to go to the Mayfair on Saturday afternoon. The ‘tupenny crush’ thing. All the kids in there would throw bits of paper at each other. Good fun! I would go to the Odean on the morning sometimes and the Mayfair on the afternoon. They showed cowboys and Indians, Buck Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy. Then you had Flash Gordon which was a bit rubbish when you come to think of it. It was great at the time though.”

Many have described how, as a child, they would sneak in through the exit and hide in the shadows until it was safe to find a seat. Clement Watts, formerly of Ensdon Grove, recalled seeing Tarzan and Superman films at the cinema as a child. Clement said, “We didn’t sneak in, well only when we had non money. I couldn’t sneak in because the manager knew me and if he saw me he would have known. I tried to get a job as a projectionists assistant once but apparently they wanted someone with more experience. I remember that at the age of 15 I was let in to see ‘A’ films. You had to be 16 to get into ‘A’ films but I was working then, so they let me in.”

Inside the Mayfair cinema, 1931. Copyright Kingstanding Library

John Rowley, formerly of Dulwich Road, described how he would pay for his friends as his family was a little better off. “I saw lots of 1920’s and 1930’s movies (at the Mayfair). They were all ‘talkies’. Examples would be “ The Three Stooges”, the old cow boys and Indian films. Hardly any British films. British films were always seen as second rate. The program for the cinema would have been Monday, Tuesday Wednesday 2 films, a major film and a secondary film. In between films would have been a newsreel. The second film would have been the main film. And this would have played twice over the day. There would have been another film on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And there would have been a different film on Sunday.




  1. I remember The Mayfair as a rather down market cinema. They never had the usual selection of films that the Odeons and ABC Cinemas had. They regularly had films starring The Three Stooges, Will Hay and Old Mother Riley.

    • Do you have any photos or do know any website with the Mayfair featuring information. I originate locally and I remember the Mayfair as a fine 1930s art deco cinema.

      Thank you
      John E Rowley

      • i agree with you john the mayfare was a great picture house what brian is talking about was the saturday maternees great in the 50s

  2. I remember going there in the 50’s for the. Saturday matinee. I think it was Threepence. The manager used to carry a big cane around with him to make sure unruly boys behaved themselves. He didn’t hesitate to use it either 😃

    • I recall blowing the straw covers over the balcony into the stalls below. I recall the manager with his cane to, he used to go down the central aisle tapping boys, lol.

    • I remember him he had white hair and was tall. Hilarious now but not then.

  3. Thank you for your reply regarding the Mayfair Cinema. I am trying to locate anyone who has some photos. I was born and brought up in the 1940s and 50s in the Kingstanding area. Long in my memory is this out of place 1930s art deco building.

    Kind regards
    John E Rowley

  4. Hi John, unfortunately I have no photos of the Mayfare. I do remember it was 6 pence for downstairs and 9 pence for upstairs.

  5. Hi Avril, thanks for responding so quickly. I will keep trying to see if anyone has any photos, particularly, the external frontage. My fond memories are of this art deco structure admist 1930s council properties.

    Kind regards

  6. I remember going to both Odeon and Mayfair kids matinees, some times, but not often, I would go to both on the same day. I enjoyed the “3 Stooges”
    “Abbott & Costello” ” The Bowery Boys” “Hopalog Cassidy” “Zorro” and “Flash Gordon” . The occasions when the film broke and all hell let loose the manager on the stage trying to explain and 2/3 hundred kids booing him like mad . Happy times, ………….. with one very sad exception
    Half a dozen of us would walk to the Mayfair, we lived in Hurlingham Rd / Balham Grove area and walked along Plumstead Rd to an alley way which brought us out on College Rd the side of the Mayfair, for our return journeys we would catch a 28 bus to Kinstanding Rd and a 29 to Cranbourne Rd on the journey we would collect bus tickets and fold them to make a concertina, on this occasion an argument started over tickets and when the bus stopped at Cranbourne Rd / The Settlement, Margaret Everett was chased by one of the boys and she ran straight into the road and was hit and killed instantly by a tanker lorry.
    Sadly the mention of the Mayfair always brings up this memory

    • Hi Richard, thank you for your reply. (I am sorry to hear the memory that the Mayfair brings about Margaret Everett.) But for your other commentins, I also have the same recollections and your route to the Mayfair was almost the same for myself. I would have particular interest in any photos showing the frontage of the Mayfair. So far, my searches and inquires todate have

      Kind regards

    • Hi Richard,

      I have only just found your comments and I had to reply.

      Margaret Everett was my aunt. My mum is Patricia Everett and she was 10 years of age when Margaret was killed at age 8.

      I called my mom and told her about your comments and she was absolutely blown away! She instantly told me that you lived right across from her in Hurlingham Road and that she remembers your mom, Joyce. She also recalls your dad was away in the forces.

      I wanted to say that I am sorry that you had to witness what happened to Margaret, however, my mum and I thank you for still remembering her 70 years after her death. Although I never met her, I feel as though I have known her my entire life because of the stories my mother has told me about her.

      We live in Canada and despite the way in which Margaret died, my mum still has fond memories of the Mayfair and living in Hurlingham Road. She often tells me about going to “satdy” matinees and I tease her about Brummie accent, which is still strong after almost 50 years of living in Canada.

      In closing, “hello” from Patricia Everett and we both wish you happiness and good health!!

      Thank you again, Karen Margaret King

  7. […] week I have added a picture of the Mayfair cinema exterior. Click to see the photo Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  8. Hi David There is now photos of the Mayfair cinema on the link of VOK. Just click on the Mayfair link. Although, I recognised the frontage of the building I seem to remember it being more art deco in design. Do you remember the stairway leading from the lobby to the circle. All the decor seemed to be very futuristic before returning to post war Kingstanding environment. (Does anyone have any internal photos.)
    Kind regards

  9. i used to go reglar to the mayfair i got my ticket a couple of times playing up and once for sneaking in after that i behaved myself and was allowed in the manager reminded me of wilfred hyde white the film star

    • hi im clement watts im 75 and i live in shard end now phone 0121 748 4825 happy new year 2015

  10. Just to add to the Saturday matinee (morning) shows. I don’t know if we were the poorest of the poor but we would buy our tickets from a little ticket window under the metal fire escape. Because of the poor light we would often `silver` a halfpenny using mercury, and purchase a ticket and get sixpence in change. Blame the science teacher, Mr Drew, at Dulwich Road school who taught us such things.

  11. my mom used to be a usherette at the mayfair in the late 40’s 50’s, marion jones then her name was!

  12. I have very fond memories of the Mayfair when I was a very young girl once a week my parents used to take me there to see a film if they could afford it,and my older brothers used to take me to see I remember Cinderella I was over the moon I loved my princesses,and when I got older I used to do my courting there his name was David he was the love of my life but sadly after four years I found out I was’nt his.I used to go to Dulwich Road School, and I lived in Aylesbury Crescent By Pat Banks [ mills ] November 16th 2012 at 15.55

  13. Mayfair Cinema, theatre of dreams comedy, drama, and excitement.
    Three of us decided to take our six guns to the Saturday matinee, as kids did, just to shoot the badiies of Hopalong and the Darango kid, plus any other badies on film.
    We sat in the back row shooting away, when an ushererette said hand over your guns boys, and collect them from the managers office after the show.
    She must have laughed till she cried.
    I also fell in love there for the first time, I was nine and Elizabeth Taylor was beyond me, a shattered love story.

  14. I remember the mayfair very well , I used to get in free with my friend David Bowen , wish i new were he was now , we used to get in free as his mom worked in the little sweet shop next to the mayfair , we always went in for our sweets first , we had such fun Frances

    • sorry was Frances Mayall

  15. I lived opposite the mayfair at 515 college rd an went there every saturday an sometimes on a week day .most people would come from kingstanding via the passage next to the mayfair known as the gully.such a shame when they bulldozed it.end of an era

  16. Just researching about the cinema and found lots of information here, thank you very much!!
    I think this video could be of your interest…it was uploaded recently:


  17. sorry – wrong city – this is in Birmingham – please ignore my comment! (-:

  18. loved the mayfair flicks on a saturday morning spending my pocket money on sweets from mr cookes sweet shop next door to the cinemathat man had the patience of a saint took ages choosing what to have and he never moaned saw the young ones at the mayfair

  19. Born in 1938 in Kingstanding the Mayfair was my favorite Cinema.
    Probably the most important job in the world at that time was to be the doorman of the Mayfair, who was a General by the look of his uniform.
    The Park Keeper at Finchley road park and, manager of the Swimming Baths
    were also concidered to be top jobs.
    The Odeon was a penny extra to go in so really out of the question, unless it was your birthday, when you went on stage and received a small gift..

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