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Memories of Shoreham

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  • Memories of Shoreham

    At a time when the American cinema was rapidly blossoming, with crowds flocking to see Chaplin, Bunny and Mabel Normand, British pioneers were busy trying all sorts of ways to establish a home-grown film industry.
    On the south coast, in 1913, scenery painter Francis Lyndhurst tried his luck by using part of Shoreham Castle as a movie location. Although a little windswept, Lyndhurst regarded the location as favourable mainly because of the daylight quality and the seclusion, and he used his knowledge of scenery and sets to construct a passable outdoor studio. Much the same idea was used in the USA by the likes of Sennett, Edison and Roach. Because of the location and light quality he called his production company Sealite.
    The production methods and organisation must have been strange because all but one of the studio's pictures were released in December 1914.
    They were: Tincture of Iron, The Showman's Dream, The Jockey, Moving A Piano and Building a Chicken House all starring comedian Will Evans and Arthur Conquest. Evans also did most of the scriptwriting, not a speciality of Lyndhurst, who also directed the movies.
    It must have met with some success, as in 1915 Lyndhurst had a studio built of glass, further along the beach. It was a solution to the weather problems whilst retaining the daylight, much as George Melies had found in Paris 20 years earlier, but then Melies was first with everything.
    The glass studio produced only one film, A Man And A Woman, released in 1916, after which Lyndhurst was bankrupted.
    The studio resulted in precious little as film heritage, except perhaps (and with some stretch of the imagination) "moving a piano was of course the subject of the Oscar-winning short film by Laurel and Hardy, some 25 years later.
    And - oh yes - there is the family legacy too...the popular British actor Nicholas Lyndhurst is the movie pioneer's grandson, and Nicholas's son Archie is already well on the way to an acting career, currently in the BBC series So Awkward.
    Last edited by Judge Foozle; 31st December 2017, 08:23 AM. Reason: updating info