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Cinema Advertising by Penny Farthing by R. F. Green

“In early 1950s I was one of the Dodgers Penny Farthing Cycling Club members, also Old Tyme Cycles and often called upon to ride these around the city to advertise what’s on the cinema.

“The Gaumont then was called The Carlton, we also did The Regent at the same time we also advertised Dodgers Cycles from Chapel Street off Rupert Street. Many photos were taken at the time. One cycle called The Bedstead Bike was made by Percy (Dodger) and by his brother in law Jimmy Clarke (both my uncles) I was the first to ride it, and the first to have an accident on it. It was the top end of an old bed. Brass knobs and all circa 1950.

“I’ve encountered one photo outside The Regent. We’d all cycled from Rupert Street, couldn’t have done so these days. We’d just get two free cinema tickets for the cinema.

“I can recall my first visit to the cinema, The Empire in Oak Street. Shirley Temple in one film and George Formby in the other where he lost his pet gold fish down the gutter, this must have been 1939, and saw people diving off the Iron Bridge into the Wensum by the Old City Railway Station. George sang a song ‘Swim Little Fish Swim On’.

“One film we advertised at The Regent was called ‘Smiley Gets A Raleigh’, about a young Australian boy saving up to buy a bike and has nearly got enough. He’d get blamed for smashing a window and things like that and have to pay for it.

“In the photo I’ve sent I’m on a penny-farthing with a fake beard, the cinema manager standing beside me. Percy (Dodger) Kerrison is on the back of a three wheeled tandem and his brother Freddy in pyjamas behind the Bedstead Bike, which I had three crashes on. As for the penny-farthing, I once finished up in the N&N. I was lucky that day. The Police came round to my Grannies, asked who had the accident and what vehicle I was on. I said “Penny-farthing bike”. “Don’t be cheeky,” said the copper. Everybody laughed except him.

“I remember once at Yarmouth Carnival on a penny-farthing I was holding two Lacon’s Brewers Float sample bottles of beer a plenty. I was afraid to let go. I cannot remember any more of that day. Once I filled the big wheel of a penny-farthing with rolls of toilet paper, red, white and blue, to go on the Lord Mayors Parade. I came out of Allens Lane on to Newmarket Road, the wind was blowing, caught the wheel and the wheel went one way and I carried on over the handle bars. It’s a wonder I never broke my neck.”


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