Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Working in Kings Cross

I spent a few months in the early 1970s working at Kings Cross in London.

It was during a period when I went through several appointments in a couple of years. It stood me in good stead later on, but at the time I didn't enjoy it much.

I had been managing the Curzon Cinema at Leyton for a few months, while waiting for a deal that would give my employers control of the old Odeon Highgate, situated at Archway. I was to be Manager of the Archway cinema. But the deal fell through, and I again looked for another job.

I joined an independent company named Fillmore Entertainments, who owned another former Odeon, this time at Kings Cross, just down the road from the station. They called it the Kings Cross Cinema.

I held the title Co-manager.

We used to just open the circle in the afternoons, and add the stalls for the 7pm performance. It was always 7pm, no matter how long or short the programme was, so that audiences would not need to enquire about the starting time.

A high proportion of our audiences came from the local student population.

We only had the front half of the stalls available for watching films, as the back half had been removed, and in their place was a disco dance floor.

There were regular all night live reggae shows on Friday nights, featuring artistes such as Count Prince Miller and Dave and Ansel Collins.

It was at the Kings Cross Cinema that I had my ghostliest experience. To the best of my knowledge I have never seen a ghost, but in this cinema I felt one, to my great surprise. But that's another story.

One of the films that we showed was "Dance of the Vampires", Roman Polanski's brilliantly funny take on the Dracula story. Polanski himself and Jack McGowran starred, with support from Alfie Bass, Jessie Robbins, Sharon Tate, Terry Downes and a superb performance from Ferdy Mayne as the Count himself.

There was some confusion about the film's title. Today it is usually shown on TV as "The Vampire Killers", but Polanski's working title was "The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth are in My Neck".

On the Saturday afternoon, the phone rang, and the cashier told me that Jessie Robbins was on the line. "Hello, Mr. Crosby", said the actress, "Is it right that you're showing Dance of the Vampires?" I assured her that we were, and she then asked an extraordinary question. "Is Alfie Bass in it?" she asked. "Well, yes", I replied, "of course he is". "Oh", she cried in delight, "then I am too!" She wasn't sure if it was the right film!

So she and her husband came to see the film that night, and were kind enough to give me a lift back home to Rochford afterwards.

Just around the corner from the cinema were the offices of Time Out, famous now but at that time an aspiring new magazine. We used to let the journalists in to see the films.

I left Kings Cross after a few months and joined the Star Group at Gravesend in Kent, working in Bingo.

If anybody reading this has any connections with Kings Cross, or London in general (Born? Lived? Worked? Ancestors? Relatives?), I would be very pleased to hear from them.