Batley’s past on big screen for vintage night out

Actress Diana Dors.
Actress Diana Dors.

It was a night of nostalgia at a special screening of the 1955 film Value For Money on Monday.

Around 100 people attended the Batley History Group event, which asked residents to recall their memories of the movie, shot in Batley.

SHOW TIME An advert for Value for Money, showing at the Dewsbury Playhouse in 1955.

SHOW TIME An advert for Value for Money, showing at the Dewsbury Playhouse in 1955.

The film – the first ever made in Vistavision – starred John Gregson, Diana Dors and Susan Stephens and unlocked a host of memories with shots taken in many Batley locations.

The 50s feel kicked off with a half hour of Top Ten tunes from that decade played before the screening by Wendy Storey, and then projectionists Greg and Susan White showed adverts from the 50s and also a newsreel from the time.

Batley History Group chairman Malcolm Haigh said the audience was moved by the film’s locations, including a rag warehouse in Station Road, the Park Cafe, Taylor Street, the Co-op Cafe, Batley Cemetery, the Market Square and the interior of the Town Hall.

And in true 50s style, the audience stood at the end of the film to sing God Save The Queen.

Mr Haigh then gave a talk on Batley-born journalist and former News editor Derrick Boothroyd, author of Value for Money, and shared people’s memories of the filming.

The home of the film’s main character was in Mill Lane, Hanging Heaton, and film star John Gregson had visited Mill Lane School on his birthday.

Barbara Copley – the then 17 year old who appeared in the film and was treated to a three day stay in London to attend the film’s premiere - had been in touch with Mr Haigh prior to the screening.

Barbara, a receptionist at the Grove House Surgery in Soothill Lane for more than 30 years, is now living in Yeadon.

The audience shared memories of the shooting, provided cuttings and photographs of the time and one guest brought an autograph book containing the signatures of some of the stars and even the actress who stood in for Diana Dors in the Batley shots, as the screen star never came to the town.

Mr Haigh said: “It was an emotive and enjoyable evening. True value for money!”