As a boy, Derek Minshull would go to work with his mother who worked in the pay box at the Curzon cinema, Old Swan. He would sit at the back of the pay box reading his comics while she took the ticket monies.
One day the chief operator came into the pay box, “he was a big guy like Sydney Greenstreet, if you know who he is”.
He was about 12 years old at the time, he whispered to his mum “who’s he?”. She whispered back “he’s the man in charge of the projection room”.
Derek asked his mum if she thought he would let him go up and have a look. She went over to the operator, “my son would like to know if he could go with you and see how it all works. He said “yes”
He recalls that they went up a lot of stairs to the top of the building and when they slid back the big iron doors it made a great impression on him
“When I walked in and saw what I saw that day I’ll never forget it.
“I always thought they were little projectors but they were massive. Oh I would love to work here”.
That day was the beginning of a long career as a projectionist.
Derek began work in 1954 for the Curzon Cinema and then moved on to the Regent Cinema, Old Swan, in 1960. In 1962 he moved to the Forum/ABC Lime Street and remained there until it closed. He retired in 1998.
Derek is envied by some operators because during his career he kept notes of every film and pathe news reel he screened.
He still operates projectors at home hosting weekly screenings for his friends from his considerable collection of old and new movies.
As Derek says “It gets in your blood”. He whimsically quotes from his old time favorite movie star – James Dean, “Only the gentle are ever really strong”.
Derek is truly one of Liverpool’s unsung cinema heroes. Now he shares his experiences with us.
Derek tells the story of how he became a projectionist
Reel Heroes – Meet the projectionists of the Golden years
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Take a look at the flickr album;
Derek watches a TV Documentary about the old cinemas of Liverpool