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In modern times,former Chief projectionist David Swindell was looked upon as the Kingpin of the Woolton
pictures.With a lifetimes dedication and relentless hard work stretching over four decades, his outstanding
contribution to the Woolton Picture House was considered to be the key factor of the cinemas longevity and stability
over the past half century.
Born 1939 near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, David Swindell began his work in cinema projection in 1955 at the age of
sixteen, employed by the Rank Organisation at the Gaumont Chesterfield. David was struck by family tragedy at an
early age after his father suffered a fatal fall in icy weather conditions. With a tear in his eye David said “It was a very
sad time, my father had only gone out to take the dog for a walk and he never made it back home. the memory of that
evening will live with me forever”.After his fathers tragic accident David became the main breadwinner for his mother
and sisters by working at his local cinema. David recalls one of the first films he showed was “There`s no business
like show business” starring Ethel Merman,Donald O`Connor & Marilyn Monroe.
When the Gaumont Chesterfield closed in April 1960 David went to work for Cheshire county Cinema’s, A Northwest
chain of cinemas with screens in Widnes, knutsford and the surrounding cheshire area, David a keen long distance
cyclist thought nothing of cycling along the canal pathways and country lanes between Derbyshire and his place of
work in knutsford cheshire, returning home by cycle to visit his mother on every possible occasion. David said "I
enjoyed working for Cheshire County cinemas they were a very nice family firm to work for and they left you alone to
get on with your job, it was just like one big happy family”, He also recalls “whenever they asked me to do some
holiday cover at their cinema in Woolton I really looked forward to it, the village life of Woolton reminded me of my
home village in Derbyshire. When they offered me a full time position as Chief projectionist at Woolton in April 1965 I took it without them having to ask
From that day on The Woolton picturehouse and Woolton village became David’s adopted new home". So much so that David remained at the Woolton
cinema as Chief projectionist for just on forty years.
David became a real local character in Woolton, his face soon became well known throughout Woolton village and he was well liked by everyone who
new and worked with him. Although he had worked and lived in Woolton for many years he never forgot his roots or lost his strong Derbyshire
accent,which was accompanied by his infectious Derbyshire laugh (usually brought on by one of his own jokes). The locals who did work with him at
Woolton more often than not soon ended up talking in a Derbyshire accent themselves instead of the other way round.
David worked constantly behind the scenes at Woolton’s cinema ensuring the building and projection room equiptment was always maintained to a very
high standard. Villagers would regularly see him first thing in the morning out on the ladder, cleaning the brass and maintaining the cinema building. He
was also immensely proud of his hanging baskets which he made himself and displayed them under the canopy at the front of the cinema, never failing to
receive admiring comments from all who passed by. He always said his baskets had a special ingredient to make them last longer than all the others in
the village, and true to form they always did.His main passion was however presenting the film show. If you could hear the old style cinema organ music
coming from the speakers you could be sure David Swindel was in the building and presenting the show.
His projection colleagues at Woolton cinema said “Working alongside David Swindell in the projection room was a very rewarding job, he was one of the
old school, a genuine peoples person, meticulous in his work, very down to earth, supportive and a good judge of character, he always had a mischievous
glint in his eye and a fascinating tale to greet you with upon your arrival . It was a real pleasure working with him and to be part of his projection team.
David retired as chief projectionist at the Woolton in April 2004 with 39 years continuous service under his belt,
totaling 49 yrs service within the cinema industry. Sadly David was never able to reap the benefits of his
retirement or to receive any long lasting recognition for his efforts in making the Woolton cinema/picture house the
place it is today, after four short months into semi retirement he collapsed and died suddenly from a suspected
brain haemorrhage, true to his caring nature it happened whilst he was out doing a good turn for one of his
neighbours. His obituary read, "The Woolton cinema was David’s Life, the place wont be the same without him.
He was one of life’s strolling minstrels, a character and a man of excellent virtues. Without David’s total dedication
above and beyond the call of duty the cinema would not have retained that unique family atmosphere, David had
a great knowledge of the Woolton cinemas history, was well read, humorous and learned, He will be greatly
missed not only by all the staff but by all the patrons who have visited and enjoyed his showmanship over all
David was cremated at Springfield cremetorium Allerton in August 2004, A huge turnout of villagers, friends
colleagues and family were present at the crematorium to say their last farewell to the man affectionately known as ‘ Mr. Woolton cinema’.
CINEMA TRIBUTES David Swindell, Woolton`s Former Chief projectionst