To get better acquainted with the history of Rotherham’s cinemas, I decided a trip to the library was in order. And after a spot of research I can confirm that the last film The Scala ever screened was Porky’s II. What a way to go.
Rotherham Library is a lot more cosy than its forbidding exterior would suggest, despite the echoes of some truly odd iPod selections (‘Oo Ee Oo Ah Ah, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang’) bouncing from wall to wall. If you wend your way upstairs you will find the Archives and Local Studies room, a haven of nostalgia filled with clippings and reels and photographs of long-forgotten palatial buildings – as well as staff who are more than willing to help.
After sulking for a few minutes over the stern Pencils Only rule, I pounced on the micro-film readers, which were more fun than my crummy refill pad anyway. Half an hour scouring the decades showed me how unlucky this town’s cinemas have often been, with a succession of doomed picturehouses crumbling into car parks, bingo halls and dust. Half the newspaper articles I read were pure speculation into which buyer might rescue a wilting business, or whether development plans for idealistic projects would ever come off.
So there I sat, trawling through reels and reels of Rotherham’s past, enjoying the yellowed pages which didn’t leave my hands feeling like chalk, and the sonorous analogue clacking as I skimmed from page to page.
Still, I’ve barely scraped the surface. Time to hit the books again tomorrow.
But for now, here’s a couple of snippets: