Pat Collins was the son of John Collins and Norah Collins nee (Mc’Dermott) of Ireland.Pat Collins, like his contemporary George Green, was a lessee, roundabout proprietor, and bioscope exhibitor, and also went on to build up a chain of cinemas. He was born on May 12th 1859 and until his death in 1943 he was the most successful showman of his generation both on and away from the fairground.
The fairground bioscope was the early foundation of film exhibition to an audience. Pat Collins went on to travel several bioscopes on his many fairgrounds. He also established several cinemas, although his involvement in the cinematograph business appears to that of a investor and proprietor.
He was born at Boughton Heath, Chester in 1859 and was one of five children.
Pat was educated at St Werburgh’s School Chester where he did very well in the time that he was there. He became fascinated with cinematography, and after including a bioscope in many of his fairs he began to acquire cinemas, eventually owning thirteen cinemas. In his home city of Chester this would included the purpose built Collins new Cinema De Luxe (later shortened to Cinema De Luxe) in Chester, which eventually became the MAJESTIC in Brook Street.
Patrick Collins, known as Pat Collins was regarded as the King of showmen, having run a successful fairground and cinema business. Collins was born in Chester on 12th May 1859 and attended St Werburgh’s RC school. Later, he presented the pulpit to the church and made many gifts there. He moved to the Midlands and became a Liberal councilor in 1918. He became a Liberal MP for Walsall from 1922 to 1924. In 1920 he became president of the Showman’s Guild until 1929. He was an Alderman in 1930, and became mayor of Walsall in 1938. In 1939 he was made a Freeman of the borough of Walsall.
As a ten year old boy, Collins, who was one of five children travelled the shows with his father John Collins, an agricultural labourer. At twenty one he operated his first children’s roundabout, which was hand operated. Collins, who had great affection for his home town would visit Chester at least once during race week. He went on to run fairs all over the UK, including a seasonal one at Barry Island in South Wales. Pat Collins Ltd was formed in 1899.
Every year the Pat Collins fair puts in an appearance on the Roodee, during the May races. The fair, which is still known as Pat Collins’ fair, is run by Anthony Harris. He took full control and sole ownership in 1983.
Collins married his first wife Flora Ross in 1880, when she was just 17. They had one son. Flora passed away in 1933 aged 69. She was the daughter of a watchmaker from Wrexham. Collins ran a number of cinemas, including five in Walsall, the Olympia Picture Palace Darlaston, the Grosvenor, Bloxwich, later taken over by Oscar Deutsch, under the title The Picture House (Bloxwich) Ltd and The Pat Collins Cinema deluxe in Brook Street Chester from 1921 until 1926.
It is said his involvement in the cinema business appears to be that of an investor and proprietor. He never got involved with the Cinema Veteran’s Association.
In 1920 the staff of the Olympia had their annual Sunday trip out and though Collins couldn’t attend he wrote out a cheque for a substantial amount towards it. He was generous in so many areas. His son Pat Collins junior was also involved in cinema and at one point ran the New Brighton Tivoli and Palace.
Collins first presented moving images in 1899/1900 when he took over the ex wall and Hammersley’s ghost show. Collins went on to present Wonderland 1 and two, built by Orton ans Spooners of Burton upon Trent. These ran until 1914.
Collins re-married In 1935 at the age of 75 to a Miss Clara Mullett, aged 54, who was his secretary.
Collins died on the 9th December 1943.There were more than two hundred friends, who filled St Patrick’s Catholic Church at Bloxwich. Six years before his death he was offered a knighthood, but refused it. It was in recognition of his great benefaction to Birmingham and other hospitals. It was said by Walsall town council, “We have said goodbye to the man with the golden heart.” They recorded their grateful appreciation of the unremitting services Alderman Collins rendered the town in twenty eight years of public life. At the time of his death the business was estimated to be worth £250,000. He left £72,419 in his will.
David A Ellischestercinemas.co.uk