It was standing room only the first time I set foot in the Northwick. I was about five years old and had just moved to a house in the street behind the cinema. The film playing that night was ‘The Dambusters’. The seats, approximately one thousand one hundred of them were all taken and I stood at the back with my parents trying to see through a maze of grown ups legs. Now and again I was lifted up to see a blinding white screen full of roaring planes. The air was full of a thick blue haze of reeking woodbine cigarette smoke. It was magic!
From then on I went to the Northwick at least once a week until it became a bingo hall in 1996. The exterior of the cinema was of a rather plain utility brick Art Deco design, but inside was another story. It was a beautiful example of Art Deco theatre design throughout designed by John Alexander and 0pened in 1938. On the splay walls at each end of the screen were three semi-naked ladies. they each had a gauze like scarf and uplifted coiled hair. They looked like they were in some kind of vessel or on a staircase which was shell like with Art Deco curls and swirls.
I remember lots of peachy pink and gold colours and dramatic amber lighting which became a deep plum as the cinema light faded for the show. Because the Northwick was in the north suburbs of Worcester a lot of rerun and obscure films made their way there and I got a great education in film. When I was younger I saw lots of kids films and musicals, but later on there were many noir films, Orson Welles and Sidney Lumet, and other films which did make main stream. I think I saw every Hammer Horror film there as well. The Northwick closed in 1966 showing ‘The Silencers’, with Dean Martin and ‘The Arizona Raiders’ with Audie Murphy. I was not there.
In the 1990’s the cinema was renovated and John Alexander’s beautiful work restored. There were plans to demolish the cinema in 2003 but these were overruled and the Northwick is now an antiques centre.
I discovered the Northwick again on the internet and saw the interior again for the first time since 1966. To say that the Art Deco ladies had made an imprint on me is an understatement, I can see them in so much work I have done.