Search

“We both remember the Noverre with much fondness”: People share their memories of a Norwich cinema from days gone by

PUBLISHED: 14:19 30 March 2017 | UPDATED: 19:21 30 March 2017

Ben Russell-Fish, manager of the 272-seat Noverre Cinema, part of the Assembly House. Photo: Archant Library.

Ben Russell-Fish, manager of the 272-seat Noverre Cinema, part of the Assembly House. Photo: Archant Library.

From watching their first films as children to enjoying first dates with their sweethearts, lots of people have fond memories of the old Noverre Cinema at Norwich’s Assembly House.

Noverre Cinema at the Assembly House, dated 1950. Photo: Archant Library.Noverre Cinema at the Assembly House, dated 1950. Photo: Archant Library.

For more than 40 years the Noverre entertained film-goers before it closed for the last time in December 1992, and news it is to return to the Assembly House’s ballroom for one day only for a now sold-out screening of Some Like It Hot has sparked lots of people to reminisce about the cinema.

Here were share a few people’s memories.

Suzanne Hudson, 72, from Horsford: “My husband to be, Jack, and I did much of our courting there in the early 1960s as the front row of the cinema was all we could afford in the way of leisure as we saved hard, and this was the least costly cinema in Norwich.

A programme for the Noverre Cinema.A programme for the Noverre Cinema.

“It was lovely to be greeted by the Assembly House manager (I believe this to be Captain Pond, father of singer Paul Jones) and shown to our seats by an usherette (one of who was named Maud).

“I never thought that some years later, in 1983, I would begin working at the Assembly House, and came to know the other side of the Noverre Cinema, through to its closure.

“The cinema was unable to have first run of new films, but much of the selection of films was done by one of the trustees, the late Geoffrey Barrett, whose favourite films seemed to be those of Woody Allen.”

Some old film guides for the Noverre Cinema at the Assembly House.
Credit: Norfolk Record OfficeSome old film guides for the Noverre Cinema at the Assembly House. Credit: Norfolk Record Office

Anne Shaw, 45, from Winfarthing: “My first cinema experience came when my mum took me to see a screening of Bambi in the 1970s.

“Then, as now, I didn’t cry at the loss of Bambi’s mother, but the ending of the film, when his father hands over supremacy, had me howling so much mum swore she’d never let me watch it again! Not a great start to my silver screen experience.

“Not long afterwards, she took me and my friend Angie to see Herbie the Love Bug, which was the first time Angie had been to the cinema. We both remember the Noverre with much fondness - the memories are especially poignant just now, as I lost my mum a few weeks ago, on 31 January. I would have loved to have taken her to one more screening at the Noverre.”

Christopher Ball remembers watching Ken Russell's Crimes of Passion at the Noverre Cinema in Norwich in the 1980s.
Photo: supplied by Christopher Ball.Christopher Ball remembers watching Ken Russell's Crimes of Passion at the Noverre Cinema in Norwich in the 1980s. Photo: supplied by Christopher Ball.

Christopher Ball, 63, from Norwich: “I remember being at a screening of Ken Russell’s Crimes of Passion at the Noverre circa 1987 when by the end of the film only my wife and I were left in the cinema, the rest of the rather elderly audience, so shocked, had left one by one as the film progressed.”

Mike Williams, 51, from Norwich: “I remember with great fondness taking a certain young lady to see The 39 Steps with Robert Powell at the Noverre Cinema in the 1980s. Great service from the staff sticks in the mind.

“Great shame when it closed. Glad to see it back, if only for one day!”

Mike Williams remembers watching The 39 Steps at the Noverre Cinema in Norwich in the 1980s.
Photo: supplied by Mike Williams.Mike Williams remembers watching The 39 Steps at the Noverre Cinema in Norwich in the 1980s. Photo: supplied by Mike Williams.

Debbie Downes, 46, from Hethersett: “My husband (then boyfriend) enjoyed many films at the Noverre Cinema around 1990 until its closure.

“One film that always sticks in my mind was Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe.

“I remember the cinema’s layout and the single seats down one side for those on their own.

Debbie Downes remembers watching Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe at the Noverre Cinema in Norwich in the 1990s.
Photo: supplied by Debbie Downes.Debbie Downes remembers watching Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe at the Noverre Cinema in Norwich in the 1990s. Photo: supplied by Debbie Downes.

“It seems such a long time ago now.”

Kevin and Claire Wulder, 56, from York: “I was at UEA 1978-81 and if my memory is correct I remember watching The 39 Steps starring Robert Powell at the Noverre sometime in the first half of 1981. It was a lovely place to see a film but unfortunately I disgraced myself by nodding off a few times during the showing. Didn’t do too much harm though as the girl I was with that evening later became my wife!”

Nigel Palmer, 45, from Ticehurst, East Sussex: “I remember distinctly the Saturday morning children’s reel. My parents would drop my brother and I - both under ten at the time I would think - at the cinema and go shopping. They left us with 5p each for the ticket. Cheap babysitting, but we loved it.

Nigel Palmer remembers watching children's films with his brother at the Noverre Cinema in Norwich on Saturday mornings.
Photo: supplied by Nigel Palmer.Nigel Palmer remembers watching children's films with his brother at the Noverre Cinema in Norwich on Saturday mornings. Photo: supplied by Nigel Palmer.

“The odd thing was that the running time was made up of small excerpts from a multitude of different movies - worthy Children’s Film Foundation dramas or kitsch historical epics - spliced together in no order whatsoever. They were not trailers, but 10-15 minute segments. Just as you got into one story, it would abruptly shift to another.

“Some clips were from serials, such as Robin Hood Junior (starring a very young Keith Chegwin), but when you came back the following week there was no hope that the cliffhanger would be resolved. Just more random cuts from random reels.

“I must have seen half of half the kids films made in the 1970s. But which half, I’ll never know.”

The Noverre Cinema at the Assembly House. Photo dated 3 July 1956. Photo: Archant Library.The Noverre Cinema at the Assembly House. Photo dated 3 July 1956. Photo: Archant Library.

• The Assembly House Trust has teamed up with Cinema City Education for the now sold-out Some Like It Hot screening on April 21 which will mark the opening of a new exhibition charting The Assembly House’s history. For more information, follow @AHHeritage on Twitter.

What are your memories of the Noverre cinema? Share your recollections in the comments section below.

Related articles

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Latest from the EDP

Show Job Lists

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 14°C

Listen to the latest weather forecast