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.