Old cinema programmes from a by-gone era

Billy McNeill with the old programmes from Ballymoney cinema.INBM28-12 255JC
Billy McNeill with the old programmes from Ballymoney cinema.INBM28-12 255JC

LIKE many young people in his younger years, Billy McNeill enjoyed the everyday pleasures of life - kicking a football in the local farmer’s field wit his mates, attending the occasional dance and - top of the list - going to the cinema.

The cinema in those days was a purpose built building on the premises of the late Tilly Molloy, one of the most familiar figures in the Armoy area, whose family ran a corner shop for decades.

The Molloy family took great pride in providing a social outlet for the many young people in the area at a time when things were markedly different from nowadays.

Billy admits to chancing his arm by not paying to get into the ‘pictures’ and cunningly used the paper from a sugar bag which bore close similarity to the official tickets.

“We used to cut the sugar bag paper the same size as the ticket and held it in such a way that Tilly didn’t twig it.

“In the semi-darkness we got away with it time without number,” Billy said.

Tilly’s is now home to Armoy Community Association with a number of offices and retail outlets - a far cry from the days when it was a favourite meeting point for the people of the area.

Billy’s reflection on the past was brought about by his unique collection of cinema programmes - not from Armoy, but from the Palladium in Ballymoney which, sadly, is now in a state of disrepair. on High Street.

A campaign to have the cinema re-opened was launched some time ago and those behind that would be very interested to see some of the programmes Billy has in his possession at his home at Bushside, near Armoy.

A regular car-booter, Billy says he picked them up at a sale, but can’t remember whenand does’t even recall how much he paid for them.

Irrespective of that, they are in excellent shape and date back to 1939 when such classics as ‘The Kid from Texas’ starring Bob Baker and Fuzzy Knight - perhaps not household names today but probably big in the pre-war era.

However, the classic ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’ featuring the brilliant James Cagney and Pat O’Brien would have attracted a big crowd as would ‘The Cisco Kid and Lady’ featuring Cesar Romero.

How about ‘Sergeant Madden’ with Wallace Beery or ‘They made me a Criminal’ featuring John Garfield to tempt people to part with their one shilling and threepence at the time.

The programmes were printed by J. S. Scarlett and Son, Ballycastle, and include the years 1939 to 1941. The programmes also show that J. M. Crawford was the proprietor and the resident manager was an R. Kane.

“When I got them it was great to browse over the contents to see what was on.

“ Some of the films I don’t remember but some are still being shown today.

“I suppose it’s a bit of history and if the cinema ever re-opens, they might come in useful,” Billy added.