Close encounters with Royalty

In 1948, I filmed the Royal Lancashire Show at Burnley, when Sir Harold Parkinson was the President. I was so impressed by the many products on exhibition - which had been made in Burnley - that it was this that gave me the idea of making a film - 'Burnley Can Make It' - which, although not supported by the Burnley Education Committee, with the help of the Burnley Junior Chamber of Commerce - the film 'New Fields for Industry' was produced.

It proved to be most successful following its premier showing at the Burnley Odeon cinema.

In 1951 I filmed the Royal Visit to Lancaster for Sir Harold Parkinson, now High Sheriff of Lancashire. My film-crew included my wife Edith and a friend Mrs Hilton. We positioned ourselves near where the King, Queen and Princess Margaret would step on to the platform. As the train moved into the station, first the Queen and then the Princess stepped down off the train. Eager to gain a better vantage point to film the Royal ladies, I jumped up on to the step and backed into the carriage doorway with my eye still on the camera viewfinder as I continued to film. I sensed someone was standing behind me and glanced round to see it was the King - who must have been wondering who this man was impeding his way on to the station platform.

I apologised for my intrusion, the King smiled and joined the Queen and Princess.

My film crew had everything ready for my next 'shots' at Lancaster Gate. As the last few feet of film were taken, with the brown paper, string and address label ready at hand, we dashed to the railway station to despatch the film to Harrow for processing. But the railway clerk would not accept our parcel, even though we had all the correct documentation. This meant further delay - but the Post Office officials were more than helpful.

I had an invitation to attend the 'Royal' lunch at the Town Hall, but the time spent in getting the film safely away, meant that I was too late to join the official guests. We tried the Co-op Restaurant. The waitress saw my invitation card to the Town Hall lunch and informed me that I had come to the wrong place. In fun I asked if the food at the Co-op was good. She assured me it was, so, much to her surprise - I told her we would have lunch there.

From filming Royalty I called to see my Bank Manager. He had invited me to give a film show for the members of the Institute of Bankers. My bank manager was the Institute's President for that year and, like me, he was interested in film and art.

I selected a number of films from my series of Old English Crafts and some from my historical records of the town of Burnley going back to the 1930's. I did not talk about my pioneering, I just let my films tell their own story. The audience found it difficult to believe that many of my films had been taken in the 1930's and 40's, such was their quality and most of the in colour.

The Yorkshire Bank, looking for suitable material of educational value, bought some of my 'Craft' films. Later I received an invitation, through my bank manager, to show my films to the Altrincham Film Club, which resulted in the Manchester Education Authority seeking to buy copies of my films.

My films were now being used in schools in Manchester, but alas, not in Burnley's schools. But, I was assured - "..what Manchester does today, others will do tomorrow." Orders came from ILEA, and the Lancashire Education Committee for copies of my series of Old English Crafts; at last my years of pioneering, to introduce films as an aid to teaching, was being recognised. Even in Burnley, schools were buying projectors and screens - but the Authority did not choose to buy the material produced by one of its own sons.

There was however one film that I produced that was shown in most of Burnley's schools. It was a film on Safety First called 'The One, Two, Three Club'. I was invited to become a member of Burnley's Accident Prevention Council where, on one of it committees, I helped by making a number of accident prevention films. With the co-operation of Bill Matthews then headmaster at Rosehill School, I produced a film with Mr Matthews and his pupils playing he "star-roles".

In another film a special layout of roads was made in Queen's Park where the police taught children how to cycle safely and how to handle dogs on the streets. There were other films too where I used puppets to teach the Highway Code to younger children. All these projects received high praise from the National Safety First Association and the British Film Institute.