Vol 13 No 9; Hollywood-on-Thames

Non-Hampton & Richmond Borough related posts.
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Things you may not know, or didn’t know you knew!

Long Forgotten Film Studios

Whilst researching the previous article on Albert van Hoorn I cam across a mention of film studios that used to be in the local area, including that of Crystal Films in Hampton Wick where Albert worked. The invention of ‘Movies’, both Silent & later Sound led to an explosion of film companies in and around the local area – not including those still with us today – Shepperton, Twickenham etc.

Apparently, there were so many that they attracted the sobriquet of ‘Hollywood-on-Thames. Apart from Crystal films there were, Hepworth, Pavilion, Climax, Regency, Weir House, EC-KO, Homeland, Phoenix, Marble Hill, London, Samuelson, Clark Labs, Broadwest & Kinecolor.

A number of them were quite near the Thames; Pavilion beside Sandown Race Course; Clark Labs in Hounslow; Regency in Surbiton; Samuelson in Isleworth and Kinecolor was in Bushy Park! Looking at the Ordnance Survey map for 1913 the most likely location for Kinecolor would probably have been within the grounds of the National Physical Laboratory.

As a side issue, Samuelson was involved in the making of ‘The African Queen’ starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. Samuelson Studios were operated by G B Samuelson.

Crystal Films did not last very long, only being used for a few years during the First World War. There is nothing left of the original buildings.

Kinecolor can be linked to Kinemacolor which was a new process enabling the showing of colour film, instead of just black and white. Charles Urban (1867-1942)

was the man behind Kinemacolor which was first used in cinemas from 1908, but by 1917 had been overtaken by improved techniques. Apparently an early popular ‘short’ showed cheese mites working their way through a block of Stilton! Well, if you have never seen anything like it before, it will certainly educate if not entertain. There does exist some colour footage from WW1 which used Urban’s system.

In certain respects, ‘Hollywood-on-Thames still exists with a number of film studios just around the corner. Much of the work relates to Post-Production.

Shepperton; recent credits are ‘The Sandman’ and ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ for Netflix. Netflix recently announced that they are investing heavily in expanding Shepperton’s facilities.

Twickenham; the recent ‘blockbuster’ ‘Top Gun Maverick’ plus ‘The Outfit’ amongst others.

As a sider issue, Hampton also appears still to be a popular place for location filming, only a few weeks ago the old Police Station was being used as a backdrop, making use of old police vehicles.

The Old Historian
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