What was supposed to be meeting, turned into a guided tour, and a trip down memory lane that brought back so many amazing memories, it brought about a sense of nostalgia.

Today known as the AGS Kerk, but to many of us, it was known as Protea Cinema, as a place where locals could go watch the latest movies, have their first date, and possibly their first kiss in the backrow of a dark cinema!

The Protea Cinema opened in 1939, and could hold a capacity of 900 movie goers. The cinema was owned by Ster Kinekor for a while, after the death of the founder, and thereaftger bought by the Muggenbergs of Paarl. The AGS Church in 2004 became the owners to date.

In the foyer, several historical photos are displayed of the building, as well as a massive black 1927 Peerless Magnarc vintage cinema projector that was reassembled by the church to keep the history of the venue alive.

As explained by the owners, this projector was used to screen the films many cinema goers enjoyed, and the operations thereof is fascinating.

Operationally light was created inside the projector by arc welding rods, yes similar to welding rods we get today, and film is then fed into a reel which creates the visual on the screen.

Audio was totally independent from the visual, and therefore audio and visuals had to be sychronised manually. The owners mentioned that it still holds an old Volvo advert of film.

Past this artefact, the well known downhill passage leading to the cinema, with poster frames, where upcoming movies were displayed. As a kid, we used to run down the passage in excitement for the new movie, cautiously trying to avoid messing popcorn all over the place. Much of the old surroundings are still kept intact, with minimal modern feel additions.

Our, on the day tour guide, showed us various areas of the property and could tell us so many stories of the past, and valuable insights on the history of the building.

Upstairs he showed us the air conditioner which provided the building with cooler air that was operated manually by winding up the air conditioner to maintain the cool air throughout the property, especially the cinema.

One very interesting story was that the Royal Family, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and her 2 daughters, visit Paarl in 1947, and the Protea Cinema was draped in the Union Jack theme to celebrate the visit. Also, interesting to mention, this was done under strict instructions by the British.

I also found a photo on Google where locals line up in the streets to catch a glimpse of the Royal Family

source: https://www.rct.uk/collection/2704714/paarl-south-africa

There are so many stories that are held within the walls of Protea Cinema, stories I believe could keep history lovers, like myself, busy for ages.

What are your memories of the Protea Cinema?

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