WW2 relics at Stainton Grove Military Camp, Barnard Castle, DL12 8UJ, UK

The Aliwal Cinema

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Battle inspired name of busy picture house   By Jim McTaggart 

Saturday 17th November 2007  

HOW many people in the dale can recall evenings at the Aliwal Cinema? Lots have fond memories of their time in the Scala, Cosy and Victoria Hall, all of which were havens for courting couples. But until this week I'd never heard of this other picture house, which stood near Barford Corner.

It was busy during and after the Second World War, when the location, between Barnard Castle and Staindrop, was handy for troops at a number of army camps.

It was used at times to show military training films, but I'm told it screened the latest movies during the evenings, when civilians as well as soldiers were admitted.

At times, regiments invited local children in to watch cartoon shows as a goodwill gesture.

It was named after the Battle of Aliwal, a bloody encounter in January 1846 during the first Anglo-Sikh war. The British troops were led by General Sir Harry Smith, who later wrote triumphantly: "I have gained one of the most glorious battles ever fought in India. Never was victory more complete."

It seems to me more like a tragedy than an episode to boast about, as 850 of his troops were slain out of 12,000 who took part.

But the Sikhs suffered more, with 2,000 men killed out of the 20,000 who lined up at the start.

They also lost most of their guns and nearly all their supplies, some of which were carried by elephants.

Perhaps the name was given to the cinema to inspire troops being trained in the dale before being sent overseas to risk their lives in some of the most dangerous of modern battles.

link to the Northern Echo

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from Norman Johnston:
 
The Aliwal Cinema, was situated in the 61st Tr. Reg, RAC,  at the Aliwal  Camp. Memories are flooding back.
We would walk there from the 59th and spend our precious couple of old pennies to get in. Enjoy the film, and walk back before the Bugler played “Lights Out” at 10.00.pm. !”Happy Days”! 

click here for more from Norman

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pictures from Heather Barnett

I have a friend who is mad on cinemas and has an extensive collection of cinema memorabilia. At a collectors fair at the weekend I found the attached cinema leaflet. Having never heard of the Aliwal Cinema I decided to do some research before giving the leaflet to my friend. Searching on the internet I found your article and thought you would like to see the leaflet which shows the films they showed at the cinema. I am not sure if this is for the Aliwal Cinema in Teesdale as I also found there used to be an Aliwal Cinema in Salisbury so this leaflet may be for that Cinema unless they both showed the same films. I was interested to find out that the Aliwal Cinema was named after a battle 1846 as I did wonder if perhaps each of the letters in Aliwal maybe stood for something.          (Heather Barnett)

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Our heritage is who we are today; we are the only ones who can protect it.

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The Memories of Stainton Grove Military Camp Project was one of a number of community-led projects along and nearby the route of the proposed South West Durham Heritage Corridor. 

 

The South West Durham Heritage Corridor will be a multi-user route along the former Bishop Auckland to Barnard Castle railway line. 

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Share your memories with us!  We want to make a record of life here before it is too late.  Please get in touch.  All your memories are important to us.

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The Memories of Stainton Grove Military Camp Project is being led by Stainton Grove Community Association and coordinated by Groundwork West Durham and Darlington. It is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the 'Your Heritage' grant programme.

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