James Cunningham - Feb '08
I remember the Curzon from my days at Cunningham's. My late father owned this
famous restaurant and I would be interested in talking to anyone that may of
known my father, Captain Owen Cunningham?
John McBlain - Sep '06
Any old pictures of Ballyhackamore in the forties, fifties
and sixties or would you know where I could get some.
Jim McKeown - Aug '06
If you can forward an e-mail address onto this site,
then I'll post some photos. There has been quite a response
on this site regarding the Curzon and the cinema still
comes to mind when I view a film. This year I converted
my detached garage into a cinema and guess what I call
Be nice to get everyone together for a meal/drink and
exchange memories etc. Everyone has moved on both in
life and beyond. I like Victor's (ex - projectionist)
thoughts of a large cinema in the sky for the departed
folk who made the Curzon what it was.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Jim McKeown (ex-projectionist)
Jim McKeown - Sep '06
Hi Jo, send your e-mail address to YPAM and I'll forward
some photos to u. There is video footage on 'James Gracey's'
page through Google page.
Hi Jo, If you can forward your email to YPAM they will
forward on to meMany people still like to ask what it
was like working in the Curzon which as Dennis Wright
said 'an institution on the Ormeau road'. The lovely
memories always come back when I view a particular film
I'd shown in the Curzon. It's funny, you can still imagine
the smell of popcorn in the foyer and remember the large
crowds waiting admission as they queued around Raby
Street/St Judes. One highlight must be 'Titanic' on
the big screen (No:1) upstairs. What a spectacle as
the ship sailed across the large screen with the packed
theatre. Then the staff who aren't around anymore who
made the Curzon what it was. Namely Billy Wilson (Chief
Projectionist), Babs Wilson (Chief Cashier) and many
before who I didn't meet. When I first started in the
Curzon at 15 (1985) it was so popular with the 3 screens.
The thought of closure didn't enter our minds as there
was no competition like nowadays. I always wonder if
the investment was made, would the Curzon still stand.
One idea I and others had was to build a sixth screen
over the shops at front. Perhaps utilise the car park
and bring in a food franchise but it wasn't to be.
Modern cinema doesn't offer the same film presentation
as the Curzon and others provided. The screens are bigger
but with the modern equipment I don't think it shows
on the screen. Billy Wilson thrived for a great pic
on screen and spent hrs fine tuning projection lamps
and plates to ensure the best presentation.
Anyway, enjoy the memories and pass them on as I've
Best Wishes to all who worked in the Curzon and maybe
bump into some of you in town sometime.
Jim McKeown (ex-projectionist)
Noel Mc Mahon - Aug '06
Simply the best.
It was with regret that I learned of the demise of the
Curzon cinema. I went with all my mates from the Short
Strand throughout the 50s twice a week never missed.
I have wonderful memories of all the fantastic films
shown there. Although we also went to the Pop and Astoria
none could beat the Curzon. There will never be another.
Jo McKeating - Aug '06
Hello all its jo again, sent a comment about a year
ago. Jim still waiting to see those photos you promised
:-) It was lovely to see the comments from Mr Wright,
I have lost your address would love you to pass it on
to Tony next time your in town. Thanks so much for the
special mention, it meant a lot.
I still miss the curzon so much everytime I pass the
site where it stood it brings a tear to my eye. But
at least I have all those special memories that will
stay with me forever X
Barry Compston - May '06
I was a projectionist until November 1986, I think you
arrived after I had left. Great time working there,
but the hours was the killer and finally I left. I beleive
the Curzon could have survived..
Ed White - May '06
Sad to hear Curzon gone, I used to go there a lot lived
in east belfast and went to Park Parade in mid 60s enjoyed
Ormeau Park and surrounding areas a lot growing up moved
to usa in 1983 but still drive through area when i visit
Victor Whiteley - April '06
On the last night of operation, Sunday 11th April 1999,
the main films shown at the Curzon were - Waking Ned
& Shakespeare In Love. Shakespeare In love was the
last to finish. The projectionists on duty were - David
Fairfield, Billy Blaney and Victor Whiteley.
Roy - April '06
Does anyone know what was the last movie played at the
Billy Blaney - April '06
Very pleasant to meet Mr. Wright and his wife in Forestside.
We exchanged e-mail addresses but errors must have crept
in because we didn't seem able to make contact.
I remember Ashley very well. She was very small when
I took her upstairs one afternoon to see Uncle Billy.
The stairs were long and steep for her but we had to
laboriously count them one by one. I wonder if she remembers
the exact number? Later, between shows, she climbed
on the large stage of Curzon One and we had a devil
of a job catching her.
Roy Fowler might be interested to know that the Curzon's
original projectors were Kalee 11s. But running about
eight hours a day we couldn't have managed with hand-fed
arcs. We had Kalee Regal arcs and RCA soundheads and
amplifier. The slide lantern had a manual arc lamp but
this was used for only minutes at a time.
In 1954 Kalee 21s and President arc-lamps were installed,
as well as a forty-foot Cinemascope screen.
Dennis Wright - March '06
Some months ago my wife and i were in Sainsburys
and we met Billy Blaney. He told me about this site
and I have enjoyed reading the letters from the many
people who have happy memories of the Curzon. I was
the last manager of the cinema. I spent the last 16
years of my working life there and was fortunate to
meet many very nice people both as members of staff
and patrons. To everyone who came to the cinema as patrons
and those who worked there as staff I say THANK YOU.
To Noel, I am still a Spurs fan.
A very special to a special friend I called Jo.
Jim McKeown - Mar 06
Yeah I remember you when u came into the Curzon with
Babs, Terry, Billy and your mum. You were quite small
in those days and a little shy! Hope all is well and
yes a shame about the place we all loved and spent so
many happy times within its walls. I do miss Billy and
Babs and all the laughter. They were great times and
I wish I could turn back the clock.
Jim McKeown (former Curzon Projectionist)
Noel - Feb 06
God, I used to love the Curzon! Went there all the time.
Remember having good craic with the manager whenever
me and my mates went - think his name was Mr Wright.
Was a Spurs fan I remember! Such a shame it had to go.
Still nowehere else in the city that comes close to
the biggest theatre in the Curzon.
Are there any other old-school cinemas in Belfast,
like the Curzon?
Ashley Kerr (Julia McCoy's daughter)
You might remember me. Billy and babs wilson were my
great uncle and auntie as well as terry and my granda,
jerry mccoy. Quite exciting to see how well remembered
they are especially how well respected uncle billy was
in his field of work. I used to come to the cinema with
babs, billy and terry all the time. Uncle billy used
to take me up to the projection room and on to the roof
top all the time. Miss them both so much and sad to
see the closure of the curzon!
Pauline and Ann E. - Oct '05
I remember going to the curzon with my sisther all those
years ago to watch grease . It ended up we watched it
14 times. Many a happy times at the curzon.
Roy Fowler - October '05
I enjoyed reading about the Curzon. We have a Curzon
in Loughborough near to where i live, an old classic
cinema now working six screens, very popular nothing
like those horrible multiplex jobs. Several years ago
i worked at a local village cinema as a projectionist
- Kalee 11s with hand feed arcs, changeovers and all
that. Modern boys of today could not cope with that.
Today at nearly 60, I have never lost the love of the
cinema, taking photos of them before they get knocked
down or burnt down, to even writing a book about them.
At present I have a lot to do with the substandard gauge
8mm, 9.5 and 16mm, plus my Kalee 8 35mm made in 1921,
that I show my NITRATE collection on quite safely!
Best Wishes for now Jim, speak again soon
Victor Whiteley - May 05
A friend read Billy Blayney's response on this site
and reminded me that Billy and I have a place in local
cinema history. This is related to the showing of the
first Star Wars film back in 1977. There were three
projectionists on duty in the operating box that night.
Billy and I are the two remaining projectionists who
ran that first showing of Star Wars. Billy Wilson (The
Chief), who sadly is no longer with us, made up the
trio. Little did anyone imagine then that the first
episode, and those that followed, would give birth to
a worldwide cult following. Billy and I were also asked
to return to the Curzon a few months prior to closure.
Before anyone poses the question, yes we were there
on the last night and we did show the last films, along
with David Fairfield. I am sure there are many people
out there who can remember being present at the last
night of the Curzon, but how many are there who can
recall being at that first night of Star Wars.
Billy Blaney - April '05
Very glad to have bumped into Jim McKeown and Tony
Kennedy today and to have been informed about this site. It's
good to know the Curzon was appreciated. I started
work there in August 1953, my job description being "rewind
boy". Billy Wilson had been chief operator for
two years, the second was Jimmy McCullough, and Victor
Wootton was third. I stayed for some twenty-three years,
ending up as second operator. I have many fond memories
of the fifties and sixties there. The advent of Cinemascope
and Vistavision and other widescreen systems and the
unofficial visits to the cinema of Darby O'Gill himself,
David Whitfield, Diana Dors and the World Cup-winning
England football team. (not all at the same time, of
course!) Not to mention the Roy Rogers Riders Club
it's Ranch Foreman, Mr. Sidney Spiers, who strangely
enough was manager of the Curzon as well!
Not so pleasant are memories of the darker days of the
late sixties and early seventies when on more than one
occasion the cinema had to be evacuated because of bomb
hoaxes, and the worst day of all in September 1977 when
a number of incendiary bombs exploded in the auditorium,
destroying several hundred seats and causing the screen
to melt. Fortunately it all happened during the night,
so no-one was hurt. The city-centre ABC was totally
destroyed that night, the Curzon being spared the same
fate only because the fire service had the foresight
to check all cinemas when the first fire was discovered.
The Curzon had to close for some three months, but re-opened
with an exclusive first run of the then record-breaking
Ivor Liley - March '05
Good to hear from you Bernard. Lots of water
under the bridge. Glad to see you are well. Yeah I remember
the Appollo too. Pretty dingey. Curzon still the best.
Bernard Richardson - January '05
Re, message 29th April 2004 [IVOR LILEY] below, it seems
a life time ago Ivor, but we use to be in and out of
each others house. I lived in front of you, 3 doors
from the Maillys at 56. I remember your brother David
and your Ma & Da. Like yourself I 'm married 29
years to Dorothy and 2 grand children. So many names
spring back now, the Pattersons, oh and big Kenneth
Kelly, hope you are well, the Roy Rogers club [ i remember
it well] after the film was over we use to gallop up
the aisle smacking my arse. Long live the Curzon. All
the best Bernie.
P.S. any body remember the Apollo ? on the bridge ?
Bob, Hong Kong - November '04
I went to see many movies in 1996 when I was a foreign
student living on the Ravenhill road. The last time
I passed by was in 1998 when me and my mother dined
across the street at Somewhere Different.
My memories of the Curzon was cozy and tiny. Not like
other cinemas I go to in Asia or in England. After the
movie, people started to flock to the darkness of the
street, this was unforgetable.
Brian Robinson - Nov. '04:
Do we remember the clouds of tobacco smoke???
My mother once set fire to the feather in her hat!
Derek Shaw, Kingston Canada - August 2004
So sad to see another memory gone, used to walk there from Cregagh in
the 50s to watch the Sat movies. Most of the time we went to the Ambassador
(Ambo), sometimes the Willowfield (Winkie flea pit). Love to see more
Jim McKeown, Curzon Ex Projectionist. - August 2004
No Peter I don't think so.
Peter Boyle - August 2004
Jim McKeown, did you have any relatives that lived on Lepper Street off
the New Lodge Road?
Bob Morgan, Millford Conn, USA - June 2004
When I was growing up in the Short Strand area of Belfast
my friends and I would love to go to the Curzon. It
was a great picture house, so clean and nice people
went there. When we got off the bus on the Ravenhill
Road and walked through one of the streets that went
alongside the picture house the homes were so beautiful,
especially in the spring. There were apple trees in
the gardens in the autumn so we would pick some apples
to eat in the pictures. I have great memories of Belfast
growing up in 1940s and 1950s. I came to America in
1958 and have been here since. I am sad that the Curzon
will be gone.
Kate, ex Belfast now living in Durham - May
I had my first kiss in the Curzon - can't remember what
film it was, but definitely remember that night!
Jim McKeown(ex-Curzon projectionist) - 5
It's been a long time now, but I would love to get a
reunion of the surviving members of staff. I miss the
Curzon too and all those summers of fun etc. I met Dennis
Wright at Tesco a couple of weeks ago and he seemed
to be keeping well. I see the Gaston's at the Glentoran
matches now and again and I met Clare McCartney down
in Dublin when Tony Kennedy and I were down to see Paul
McCartney at the RDS. I see Pat (Terry/Babs brother)
now and again too. I also keep in contact with Big Tony.
All I have like a lot of people is memories and photos
(some of which will appear, along with dvd footage,
on this site soon!) The closing night footage is all
on dvd and safe along with many photos. I have photos
with most of those girls U mention in the Curzon just
before I left and U are in some of them!! So hopefully
some photos/film footage will be added soon to this
site and maybe a reunion of all the staff! Keep the
messages/memories of the Curzon coming.
Claire - 5 May 2004
I used to go to the Curzon cinema when I was a kid and then graduated to going with the
squeeze of the moment. It was very handy to where I lived, even if it did smell a bit
Mark Charles - 5 May 2004
Ach it is a sad day. I was also one of those who saw
my first big screen movie in The Curzon. 1982, E.T,
I must only have been 4 or 5 years of age. Then in my
teens I would hop on the bus and make the journey to
the Curzon with carry-out in hand. Then just a few years
ago I was working on the road for BCDA when the news
came through that the Curzon would be closing its doors
- shocking indeed! For years it sat there and now it
is down and it's a crying shame. The wee women who sold
you your ticket and your popcorn - both notorious for
taking no crap from youngsters and the head usher faithfully
dressed in his tux each week.
The closure of the bakery is also a sad one. What's going to keep the drivers
on the road going with that wonderful aroma of fresh baking bread not there anymore?
What's going to be next in Ballynafeigh?
Thank God for great memories that can never be knocked
Jeffrey - 5 May 2004
I was conceived in the Curzon. I think the film was Dangerous Moonlight.
Kirsty - 5 May 2004
I remember going to the Curzon with my mum, dad and brother to see Dick Tracey
in 1990 when I was about 6. We went to the corner shop opposite for toffee bonbons
before going in. Every time I pass the site where it once was, I always
remember being there that night.
Josephine McKeating - 4 May 2004
Glad to see a website about the old Curzon. I worked
there as a usherette for over 8 years and loved every
minute of it. Can't believe it's no longer there. I
remember selling the icecream, walking about the isles
with my torch making sure that everyone stayed quiet,
what laughs we had. I'm sure everyone remembers Mr Dennis
Wright the Manager and how he always greeted everyone
coming into the cinema. We should organise a party to
remember those days. Any other usherettes out there,
especially those who worked there in the late eighties
and nineties, to get in contact, Lucille Jones, Anita
Hamilton, Sinead Black, Clare Brennan to name just a
few. I miss the old place so much, can't wait to see
what pictures are going to be added to the web.
(We hope pictures will be added very soon - Editor)
Stephen R(Ex East Belfast, now in Manchester) - 1 May 2004
A truly sad day. Many an evening was spent in that cinema, getting the popcorn
from the old woman who seemed to have been there since I was wee (I'm now 28),
smuggling the occasional carry-out.... GOD BLESS THE CURZON & ALL THOSE WHO
WATCHED FILMS IN HER.
Ivor Liley - 29 April 2004
As an ex Roy Rogers club member from Breda Road I too
have many happy memories of the late 50s and 60s. As
an early riser I would be ready every Saturday morning
at the crack of dawn to make the pilgrimage to the Curzon.
I met my first girlfriend there, Hilda Smith from the
bottom of the Ravenhill Road. When I was about 17 I
purchased a crimson nero style frock coat from a friend
Jackie Kinghan. I proudly tried to enter the Curzon
in the height of mod 60s fashion, only to be approached
by my nemesis for years UNCLE SYDNEY. He decided I looked
like a trouble maker and would only let me in if I removed
my pride and joy. After a few words I did so. Imagine
my humiliation to find I had worn the world's oldest
shabiest work shirt, which had the arms hacked off and
was two sizes too small. Belfast being a small town
at the time word got back to my home about the embarrassing
incident. Boy was I in trouble. This is only one of
thousands of memories I have of the Curzon and the 23
years my wife Edna Liley (nee cunningham) lived in a
Darren - 28 April 2004
I lived in Raby St just beside the Curzon and I remember
going to see my first movie in 1982 when I was just
5 years old. It was the blockbuster E.T. I sat with
my uncle on the red seats at the back of No.1 screen.
The Curzon became a part of my life. As I grew up I
frequented it more and more regulary. I can still remember
the crowds of people walking past our house at the weekend
on their way to the Curzon. It was a huge attraction
in the eighties, the cars packed the surrounding streets
without fail every weekend. I remember when there was
a bomb scare at the back of the police station and the
streets had to be evacuated. The owners of the Curzon
allowed the local residents to come into the cinema
and even showed us all movies while the army did their
thing. Great childhood memories. I will never forget
the Curzon cinema.
Richard Stoops - 24 April '04
As a fully paid up member of The Roy Rogers Club in
the 1950's, I have many happy memories of going to the
Curzon on Saturday mornings and watching all manner
of cartoons and serials which ended on a cliffhanger,
thus ensuring my return the following week. The Roy
Rogers club at the Curzon was not a club as such but
the opening short film on Saturday morning was usually
a Roy Rogers film and the introduction was really Roy
welcoming the children to the cinema as members of his
"club". It was very popular and I am sure
there are many of your readers who will also remember
it. There were, of course, other short films-cartoons
for example. Sad that the cinema has been demolished
like so many others. No doubt impossible to compete
with modern multi screen cinemas.
Jim McKeown. Ex Curzon Projectionist - 23 April '04
I worked with Billy Wilson who became the Chief Projectionist
at the Curzon, Trevor. He always spoke highly of your
father (Tommy Davidson I remember him saying was his
name). Billy has now passed away (Feb 2000) after a
long spell of illness. It was Billy who taught me film
projection and the importance of presentation. Unlike
to-day's multi-plex cinemas where presentation doesn't
really exist, the importance of film presentation was
instilled in me from when I was 15yrs old. Billy loved
the Curzon, as we all did, and took great pride in his
work. He and his wife (Babs) are missed along with the
Curzon building. We used to sit in that projection room
you describe and have tea and biscuits talking about
old times. Mr Harry Shepherd, Mr Sidney Spiers and your
father came up in the conversation now and again. I
have great pictures of that dimmer you said you used
to change the colours on the curtains in them days.
Anyway, hopefully we will perhaps add some images to
this web-site soon!
Trevor Davidson (North Carolina) - 13 April
My father was the chief projectionist when the Curzon
first opened around 1938. We lived in Rushfield Ave,
then in '39 moved to Knockbreda Drive. Billy Wilson
was his assistant plus one other young chap. The manager
was a Mr Shepard. I went to school opposite the Curzon
at St Judes and was the envy of all the kids in my class.
Twice a week I took my dad's lunch to him in the operating
box. Sometimes I got to change the colours on the curtains
during the intermission. I would watch the movie through
the window. Often my dad would slip me down into the
balcony. Happy memories. It was sad to see it being
torn down and now I read on the Belfast web site that
the Ormeau Bakery is closing this week. Sooo sad.
Has anyone else memories of going
to the Curzon? What films did you see? Who did you go
with? Perhaps you worked there at one time. Share your
stories of the Curzon here on the Your Place & Mine
website. We'd also be keen to hear your memories of
the Ormeau Bakery. To send us your comments or stories
just fill in the form at the bottom of the page. (Editor)
Jim McKeown, ex Curzon projectionist
- March '04
I HAVE PLENTY OF PHOTO'S AND DVD FOOTAGE OF THE CURZON
CINEMA BOTH IN OPERATION AND FINAL EVENING'S PERFORMANCE.
HOPEFULLY BE ADDED TO THE WEB-SITE SOON.
Andy Dixon - March 04:
I am to sorry to see the demise of your cinema. Irecently
saw a similar sight of my local cinema. If you find
any old pictures of how it looked, I would love to see
them. All the Best.
Andy Dixon, England
Jim McKeown, ex Curzon projectionist
- February '04
I was one of the projectionist's in the Curzon for
9 years approx, and have a lot of great memories in
there! I started as a trainee projectionist when I was
15 and spent most of my early adult life behind the
scenes. Highlight's for me were the popularity of 'Crocodile
Dundee' which played for 26 week's I think.
The premiere of 'The Commitments' was another great
night and the excitement generally for us when a big
blockbuster came along. The queue's around Raby street
/ St Judes were great to see. Alas with the arrival
of the larger multi-plex with car parking and restaurant's
etc, the Curzon was doomed. I agree with one of the
director's when he stated that the Curzon was for the
20th century not the 21st . However, at the time of
closing we felt with a little investment it could've
survived but it needed facilities added and a lot of
refurbishment inside and out .
Someone remarked to me that it would be cheaper to knock
it down and start again. I like a lot of people loved
the main cinema upstairs (cine 1,formerly the circle/balcony).
The coved lighting and large screen and stereo surround
sound. The nights spent watching Jurassic Park, Dances
with Wolves and Pretty Woman and finally the most popular
film in the cinema's last days, the wonderful Titanic.
Every time I see that film I think of the night my wife
and I spent viewing the spectacle of the great ship
sailing across the screen. At least on the last night
when it closed we got a lot of footage of people coming/leaving
the Curzon. The projector's starting up for the last
time with the 20th century fanfare music. Nice to look
at on dvd now and again. Pity someone couldn't`t put
something in it's place in new development to remind
future people of the landmark which once stood there.
The place where people met ,viewed film and had a good
laugh! It will always be a part of me as I shared some
great times in there and met one of my best friend's
there. Ahh well, I hope someone reading the above finds
it interesting and leaves a reply.
Jim, great memories indeed. If you`d like
to share the footage of the last days of the Curzon
please get in touch again and we can add some of those
images to the site. Ed.
A very sad sight indeed. The Curzon was my local cinema
in the 70's. I have some good memories of trying to
get in to the X-rated films a couple of years too early.
Despite (too much) make-up we were usually spotted and
thrown out of the queue! I remember seeing "Earthquake"
there with quadrophonic sound - I really felt the ground
shake under our feet! I have laughed, cried, been scared
half to death in the Curzon, I even fell in love a few
times there... What a loss....
I read this and thought of all the other old picture
houses we went to as kids then as teenagers. When I
was wee my grannie took me to the Pop and the new'an.
As a kid I took all the kids in the street to the Castle
to the Saturday matinee. As a teenager it was the Winkie
and the Drum. Only when I got older did I go to the
Strand and the Astoria. But I think they're all just
about gone now. All those wee boys we met on a Friday
or Saturday night in the sixties. Great memories.
Stanley Sloan xEast Belfast
Another sad day for us xiles. Manys a great film I saw
there but I guess it had to happen. I think the last
one left I used to frequent is the Strand in Ballyhackamore.
I'll keep watching to see what takes its place.
James Cunningham - Feb '08
I remember the Curzon from my days at Cunningham's.
My late father owned this famous restaurant and I would
be interested in talking to anyone that may of known
my father, Captain Owen Cunningham?