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You're too young to see Psycho - but I'm projectionist I said

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 27, 2013

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IN about 1956 our family had a radiogram which had a BSR auto change deck called the UA6.

I used to tinker with the deck to try and get it to work, as when the last record played it would not switch off. Instead of the pick-up arm returning to the pick-up rest and switching the deck off the arm it used to go back on the record again (I used to play eight records).

I still did not fathom out how it worked.

When I left school in 1963 my first job was a projectionist at the Imperial Cinema, Spon Lane, West Bromwich.

I remember showing the film Psycho, and the chief projectionist Gordon Hill said we were not supposed to watch this film. I asked why and was told it was because I was not 16.

Miles Jarvis, who owned several cinemas in West Bromwich, decided to change it into a bingo hall and made various staff redundant, including myself.

I applied for a job at the Princess Cinema, High Street, Smethwick, as a part-time projectionist.

In the cinema trade if one of the amplifiers was not working it was the job of the chief projectionist to replace the valves instead of getting the service engineer out. While watching him replace the valves this got me interested in electrical and radio TV servicing and I took a course at West Bromwich College in the 1960s.

I was a part time projectionist at the Princess Cinema for five years until it closed down in 1970-71. The chief projectionist Jim Toon used to repair the back light valve radios.

On supper breaks the chief used to go to the Talbot pub, Vicarage Road, High Street, Smethwick, for his pint.

There he got me interested in repairing the old record players and radiograms. I loved stripping the decks and getting to know and repair the faults. Other decks, Coloro, Philips and Garrad, I wasn't interested in, only BSR decks.

Repairing the decks in the Sixties got me into learning to do other things like vacs, washers and my own car repairs.

The spares for the record players and radiogram decks I bought from Stourbridge BSR works by the Fish pub. BSR then decided to transfer the spares in the 60s, to Lion Street, Kidderminster, then in the 70s to Stourport by the then sugar beet factory.

I love repairing the record player decks to this day, especially if they are of sentimental value. I still have the service manuals.

How many engineers today could strip a complete deck and rebuild it, even without the service manuals?

The modern repair engineer would not have any idea how the auto changer works compared with today's technology. It is a throwaway society today,

While going to my sister's, Joan Hollowood of Kinver, I noticed that the BSR works at Stourbridge offices and works were shut. When going to Kinver some months back, looking at the BSR entrance for employees, I noticed the commissionaires' office was demolished and now the land is being used for housing.

More history has gone for ever, what with the cinemas, coal mines, railways, schools, libraries.

What is this country and world coming to? Sell off the land, what about the working people, don't they matter any more?

Antony Jeffries,

Pemberton Road,

Hill Top,

West Bromwich.

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