The projection room (or operating box as it was called), at the Empire Cinema Neath had an unusual access. The door to the stairway leading to the projection room was just inside an alcove leading to the Gent's toilet - a little inconvenient for lady projectionists who appeared to be walking into a man's domain.
Behind the doorway was a steel staircase (pictured) leading to a 3ft square platform from which there was a 6ft vertical steel ladder to the floor of the projection room. A lady operator had to ensure that there was no-one following her - either that or wear a pair of trousers!
In the projection room there were two Peerless Magnarc arc lamps for the 35mm Westar film heads with a Westrex Sound unit below it - see Menu for the sound system. The projectors were installed in the early 1950's to replace the original Kalee machines (shown at the top of the page). The arc lamps employed carbon arc electrodes, which had to be renewed periodically by the operator.
At the installation stage, the projectors were hosted into position with the aid of a lifting beam above the elevated access doors shown in the picture on right.
During film shows, while one projector was in use, the other was being loaded with film for the next part. Spots on the upper right hand corner of the screen provided the cue for the manual change over from one machine to another. After that, the film from other projector would be rewound in the rewind room on a rewinder similar to the one below and then stored ready for the next showing.
A slide projector, which also served as a spotlight, and a 78 rpm gramophone turntable for music during the intervals were part of the set up.
The chief, Bryn Symmons, near the projection room switch board
How Projectors worked in cinemas of yesterday......