In a recent edition of the Watford Observer there was a report and a picture of how the Palace Theatre and the Carlton Cinema in Clarendon Road looked 70 years ago. The picture of The theatre and the cinema was taken on Sunday, April 23, 1950. The photographer was the late Bob Nunn, a local historian who was well known for all his books he wrote on the subject of the history and heritage of Watford town.

The big film showing at the cinema that week was Back to Bataan, featuring John Wayne and Anthony Quinn (made in 1945), with Batchelor Bait as the second feature, starring Robert Young, Shirley Temple and John Agar. Showing at The Palace Theatre that week was Dusty Ermine by Neil Grant.

Looking back to 140 years ago, and going back to 1880 I can now supply a picture showing the buildings that were standing before the theatre and the cinema were built.

The picture was taken looking up from the High Street, with Beechen Grove Church in the background. Where the two young boys and the lady in the long Victorian black dress are standing to the right in the picture is where the Palace Theatre stands today.

The information in the report regarding the history of the cinema is not entirely accurate. In 1920 the Carlton was built as a skating rink and did not become a cinema until 1930, when cinemas were becoming the most widely liked source of entertainment.

On a personal note, remembering Clarendon Road brings back so many cherished fond memories of when I worked as a delivery boy for Mssrs Cyril and Harold Goodson, who owned the toy shop opposite the Palace Theatre. The Goodson brothers also ran a toy wholesale business in Queens Road.

I worked Monday to Friday, after spending all day at school, and on a Saturday, for 12 shillings and sixpence a week (sixty two and a half pence in today’s money). It was a job I thoroughly enjoyed and it was hard earned money pushing a sackbarrow around the town loaded with customer’s orders to be delivered.

I do hope readers find my memories of Clarendon Road 70 years and 140 years ago interesting.

Ernie MacKenzie

Gammons Lane, Watford