Forward to The Picturedrome Fun Merchant

In the mid-eighties I was approached by the secretary of the North Shore Historical Society to see if I would record on tape the history of the Picturedrome cinema and dance hall. He suggested that I tell of the problems, how they were overcome, and something of the life and times of those days. The tape sat in my draw for about a year. Where on earth to start … and where to stop? Although I had a book of cuttings of films that my father, L.L. Speedy had compiled, these in themselves would be of little value unless they could be brought to life. I doubted that any real interest would be shown in a pure history. If the effort were to be worthwhile it had to be a story of human interest. After all it was entertainment and happy times that had made the ‘Drome popular in the first place.

I have since discovered that the process of recalling back to early childhood is one that essentially triggers the deep, deep, long-forgotten memory. Something like psychiatrists work. Gradually over the next year or two the ideas were developed. I was also helped by family chats. I went on air to talk about the project with Humphrey Beale of Radio Pacific. Four people responded.

When the main writing task was finished the new secretary of the Society, Mrs Bartlett, explained that they would like to publish some of my work along with other accounts of those times. As the 75th anniversary of the City of Takapuna was come up in 1987, I suggested that she might we able to persuade the City to undertake the publishing. Eventually some of my script was included in People and Places of Takapuna: (1987), (Takapuna City Council).

Later I handed the original script to Jock Mills, the property editor of the North Shore Times Advertiser. It was not published until the Editor made space for it in the main pages. Most of the script was run in twelve weekly parts in the Saturday edition, commencing in January 1992. The availability of space governed the published contents. This version is the original script with minor amendments.

The response to the weekly episodes has been, too me, quite remarkable. I knew that it would strike a nostalgic cord with those who knew the happy times of the ‘Drome, but what I had not bargained for was the response from new-corners to the district, including younger people who wanted to know what it was like in the ‘olden days’ of the Picturedrome. My reward is in the pleasure it has given so many readers.






In 2002 the North Shore City Council published a second edition of People and Places of Takapuna and a Talking Book version was also produced.

This is likewise the second edition of the original script with minor corrections.




The Picturedrome Fun Merchant