WATCH: Greenlaw film buff on his life-long passion
Greenlaw’s Eddie Poole began his life-long love affair with the magic of cinema in his home town of Preston before the outbreak of the Second World War.
More than seven decades later and, despite being technically ‘retired’ for the last 15 years, he still plays a pivotal role in his family’s business, running the popular Pavilion Cinema in Galashiels.
The Pooles have run the four-screen Pavilion since it was opened back in March 1996, after the rennovationand conversion of the former Kingsway cinema in the town’s Market Square.
But it’s a long way from Eddie’s humble beginnings in the moving picture industry, when he was bought a hand-cranked 9.5mm projector for Christmas.
Eddie, who has lived in Greenlaw with wife, Ann, since 2003, used the projector to run silent films, starring the likes of Charlie Chaplin.
“When the war finished, my parents then bought a 16mm silent projector, for which the quality of film was much better and I also joined a local film library,” he told us.
And it was while in his last year of secondary school that a work experience trip to the local Ritz cinema in Preston saw the 15-year-old Eddie end up with a part-time job as a relief projectionist several nights a week.
“By the time I left school, I’d been at the Ritz for the best part of a year.
“It was 1950 and they asked if I wanted a full-time job as second projectionist on £6 a week – my dad was only just earning that!”
Although he carried on working part-time at the Ritz, Eddie eventually took up an apprenticeship that saw him train as an electronic instrumentation mechanic for Britain’s fledgling atomic energy industry.
There followed a raft of moves around the country, from Dorset to Edinburgh. In the end the Pooles settled in Ayton, where they made a complete change, running the local grocery store.
But a chance drive past a cinema in Dunoon had already seen Eddie’s dormant interest in the cinema rekindled.
“We bought couple of 16mm sound projectors and went on the road doing mobile shows in the evenings – that was in the late 1970s
“It was during this period that we put on films at the construction village for the workers building Torness nuclear power station.
“There was one film they wouldn’t let us show – the China Syndrome! Not surprising really,” Eddie laughed.
“We rented films from people like Warner Brothers, Fox and Disney, which had all their films on 16mm and you just paid them a certain percentage of the take or on a flat fee basis.”
An acquaintanceship made through a mutual enjoyment of dinghy sailing on Loch Tummel saw the Pooles agree a deal to rent and reopen the disused Reel cinema in Pitlochry.
It was the start of big things, with the next decade seeing the family take on the running of cinemas in, amongst other places, Arbroath, Dundee, Eyemouth in 1983, and finally the Roxy in Kelso in 1985.
The various cinemas were complemented with bingo, discos and roller discos to keep them afloat, with all the family taking a hand in their operation.
But by 1993, the Pooles had taken on the Kingsway cinema in Galashiels for the property’s new local owners.
The building was converted into a modern four-screen cinema and the Pavilion finally opened its doors in the March of 1996.
And despite the modern impact of the internet and the streaming of movies to devices, such as iPads, Eddie, who is now a grandfather and great-grandfather who celebrates his 80th birthday this month, is confident cinema still has a future.
“As the lights go down and the curtains draw back – there’s nothing like it. It’s still magical,” he whispered.