The Monica Cinema (aka Piper)
The Monica Cinema opened its doors on the 29th March 1915 with a capacity of just under a thousand, with local punters given a special souvenir to mark the first Saturday matinee a few days later.
These were the days of a ‘local’ cinema on nearly every street, with at least 4 just on Beverley Road; at one time Hull had one cinema seat for every 9 people in the city. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to view a film at ‘first house’ in one cinema and then quickly sprint down the road for the ‘second house’ at another.
"The commissionaire, dapper in his uniform and peaked cap, also doubled as our street lamplighter, and was a friend to the local children, sometimes allowing me to sit in the “better” seats at the back. Saturday afternoon would see him attempting to keep us in order at the afternoon matinee. With a bagful of locusts or Tiger nuts in our hands, we cheered madly, whatever was showing. We also chewed cinnamon sticks, and the more daring among the boys would smoke them, giving off a pungent spicy odour. Not the girls though, we were more law abiding”
-Mrs Veronica Turner, quoted in ‘Remembering Old Cinemas of Humberside’, Bob Preedy
Local cinemas began to decline throughout the 1950’s and 60’s and the Monica suffered the same fate as many others in the city, finally closing it’s doors on the 21st October 1961. It remained boarded up for a number of years before re-opening in the mid 1960’s as ‘The Piper Club’, transforming over the decades from a traditional working man’s club into the student friendly nightspot of today.
Memories from residents:
“We were in the 7 pennies, slightly further back and not with the ‘rowdies’ on the front row. We were allowed to go because it was
only up the avenue. It was just part of what you did, you went to the pictures on a Saturday afternoon, because you could go by
yourself. The signature tune of the Monica was ‘Anchors Aweigh’, and when they played that that’s when you knew they were letting
in. So you hear the tune now and I think ‘I’m back there.’ It wasn’t very luxurious, not like town, but not as bad as others I went in”
“When we were young they used to have courting seats at the back of the cinema which were double seats. So a lot of the courting
couples used to sit at the back. I remember once going with my first husband before we got married and the usherette showed us to
one of these courting seats at the back and my husband said “I want to sit further forward, I’ve come to see the film!” - Carol
“My Dad used to come home on a Sunday afternoon having been in the Piper. You’ve probably heard this before, but all I knew of the mythical Piper Club was that they used to have strippers on a Sunday afternoon” - Kris