Contents Our Memories Clubs & Societies Film Nights

On Saturday evenings, film shows were laid on for Junior forms and those members of the Senior school who didn't fancy taking a turn around the heavily French-chalked Butler Hall dance floor.  Junior and Senior shows were staggered and took place in Tomlinson Hall and hut 16 in the same row.  In the early 60s, I was one of the projectionists, with Trevor Dodd, and we enjoyed the valuable perk of skipping the Saturday afternoon sport to loaf around in the hut 23 'office' and set up the equipment and seating. At that time we had 16mm Bell & Howell 'Filmosound' projectors which had only recently replaced a pair of ancient G.B. machines that must've dated from WW2. Mr Thornley was in charge of ordering films until 1965 when Mr Wood took over.

Girls and boys occupied different sides of the hall, but (as a 2nd perk) the projector had to be set up on the girls' side, due to the orientation of the controls!  At the senior shows, we'd rig up a record turntable and connect it to the projector's audio input.  Those who came early would be treated to a crop of 45's - a real bonus for those living in the houses where radios and record players were banned (York, for a start).

The programmes for each term were printed on small cards; here's the last one I had:

Click to enlarge

Click the images to see
full-size versions

Click to enlarge

These photos show details of projectors that are very similar to those used by the College:

Heavy! Our machines were 110 volt models, so we also had a set of 230v/110v transformers. The chrome knob at the front adjusts the angle of elevation. An operator's eye view of the innards. Sound came from a thin stripe along the edge of the film, that changed in width according to the recorded audio signal's amplitude and frequency. Light from a small lamp was focussed through the strip onto a photoelectric cell, from where the amplifier input was taken.

The 3 chrome clips retain the film over the rollers. The photo-cell is in the cylindrical roller to the left of the sound lamp housing. The rear take-up mechanism, with a form of slipping clutch that had to be engaged when rewinding.

With only one projector, there were inevitable breaks for reels to be changed. The operator would know when the film was about to run out, because small white dots would appear briefly in the top corner of the frame (10 seconds and 5 seconds?). Needless to say we all tried to make the changes as fast as possible. There were inevitable cock-ups, such as accidentally putting on a reel where the film was reversed during rewinding (resulting in an upside-down picture), or skipping a whole reel (took a while to catch on) - these and other incidents invited a chorus of abuse from the audience.

They had the same projectors in the Navy, so I managed to find myself another cushy job.

Herb Atkins

I recall being able to escape from some of the more strenuous Saturday afternoon activities to set up projectors for the film nights and smoke illicit cigarettes.  And then there were the opportunities for one of us to sit next to a member of the opposite sex when either of us had a 'girlfriend'.  I remember your triumph when you managed to get your hand up the skirt of one of them? [a first for me - Ed.]

I too put my Bell & Howell experience to good use several years ago. I was on a long-haul flight somewhere on a 747, in the days when they used regular projectors hidden in the ceiling of the plane. The film/projector broke, much to the dismay of all. The crew didn't have the slightest idea what to do and said they would get it fixed when they landed. British Airways if I recall. Anyway, I volunteered my services and found it simple to fix. The hero of the flight! I was pumped full of champagne and slept through the movie.

Trevor Dodd

I was also a projectionist. One episode that came to mind recently took place on a Sunday night in Tomlinson, when showing a film for the seniors.  It was a 4 reel film and I was delegated as projectionist & I believe I had Grant Needham as an assistant.

We decided that we would use both projectors and try to run it continuously, as in the cinemas. We had a sound changeover box, so it was just a matter of getting the start-stop of the projectors right. I had gone down just before tea to do a final check that both projectors were set up right and that the spare reels were in place.

The film started and first reel went through. We did a fairly good change to reel two, then I reloaded the projector and sat back. About 5 minutes from the end of reel two, I noticed a piece of card in "reel 4." I mentioned this to Grant and he said "I put that in to mark Reel 3!" A quick check revealed that reel 4 was in the projector, so it was panic stations for a couple of minutes as the reels were changed.

There were comments afterwards by other projectionists in the audience that they though we had got a seamless changeover, until the real change over came a few minutes later. I still don't know who or how those reels got swapped over! Still, they were good days, and a lot of fun was had as a projectionist.

Colin Farrington

There were also the sixth-form film shows, which were not segregated in the way that lower-school film shows were.  I think they even showed a few fairly risque films, although I can't remember any specifically (apart from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", which wasn't risque).  Mind you, even X certificate films were pretty tame by modern standards and would probably mostly attract a 12 certificate nowadays!

Francis Wright

Radio club ruled OK by the way - many a happy hour spent there - I was also involved with the Projectionists team using the good old B&H gear.  Anyone remember our first try with cinemascope and that "mega screen" using 3 synched projectors? - Or was there just one and a special lens???

I distinctly remember dissecting one of the old Projector TV's too.   They had an awesome EHT system - you could feel the charge at a few feet away and draw an arc several inches long from the lead  - Wicked!

John Hinchliffe





Wymondham College Remembered