This week’s photograph was taken in 1970 and features Reginald Broom. In between his busy schedule as Group Engineer at Salisbury Infirmary, Mr Broom’s passion was cinema and he enjoyed nothing more than negotiating the best in celluloid from London’s biggest film tycoons – all to provide amusement for Salisbury Hospital patients.

This was a voluntary activity which Mr Broom started in the 1940s and at the age of 70 (as he was when the photo was taken), he was still going strong. “The film shows break up the dreary hospital routine for patients, as well as providing a useful meeting point for them,” he said. It wasn’t a case of hiring just any old film for Mr Broom prided himself on getting the best productions as soon as they were available for private showings. It was all done on a small grant from the Hospital Management Committee, a sense of a bargain, and a voluntary collection made by patients. However, M.G.M, The Rank Organisation, Twentieth Century Fox, and United Artists all helped with his quest – but this was unlike the early days of his venture as he remembered. “When I started anything would do. Some of the patients had never seen a film before I started doing the ward rounds at the Infirmary.”

In the late Forties he showed pre-war Rank releases and then did a deal with M.G.M. whereby he was allowed their films if he did village showings as well. Later, Odstock Hospital turned a hut into a cinema and Mr Broom rented one film a week from the big distributors. With his two 16 mm sound projectors and his assistant, Miss Mildred Mitchell, he provided one show a week on a rota at Newbridge, Odstock and Harnwood Hospitals.

n Frogg Moody and Richard Nash are currently writing a new book on the history of Salisbury cinema. If any readers have memories or photographs we would be delighted to hear from you. C please contact -