Brian R Pritchard Motion Picture and Film Archive Consultant
A very valuable resource is the article published as a Proceeding of the British Kinematograph Society, No: 38. It was a lecture delivered to the society on 3 February 1936 by R W Paul, C M Hepworth and W G Barker. These three were pioneers in the earliest days of the cinema.
The first part by R W Paul mentions processing and labs. On page 3 he says 'In Birt Acres I found a photographer willing to take up photography and processing, provided I could supply him with the necessary plant, which I did early in 1895.' This was the Northern Photographic Works, Nesbitts Ally, High Barnet, Herts (Kelly's Directory of Herts, 1899).
He also says on page 3 that 'For development, forty feet of film was wound onto a birch frame with spacing pegs.'
On page 5 he says '...I purchased a four acre field at Muswell Hill. Pending the erection of a studio, ..., where temporary buildings accommodated the processing operations,' and later on the same page 'In 1899 ..... Adjacent to the studio a laboratory was erected, with a capacity for processing up to 8,000 feet of film per day'.
In the second part by C M Hepworth on page 9 says 'My first effort was to photograph the boat race - it must have been the one of 1898, I think - and I took the negative to Wrench's place in Gray's Inn Road to develop on a pin frame.' 'John Wrench & Son, 50 Gray's Inn Road WC. manufacturers and patentees of the celebrated Wrench cinematograph, as used at the Alhambra, London etc etc.' (Post Office Directory London 1899)
He says that in 1898 he invented a continuous processing machine to which he added a perforator and a printer. You fed in unperforated film from the manufacturer and it came out as a finished print at the other end! Patent number GB13315 shows a continuous processing machine and the patentees are Cecil Hepworth and Charles Urban. He started up his own lab after being dismissed by the Warwick Trading Company, formerly Maguire and Baucus of Warwick Court; MD Charles Urban. This was at Hurst Grove, Walton on Thames. Hepworth Manufacturing Company, (Kelly's Directory of Surrey 1913) His address in 1929 was Coombe Moss, Sydney Road just around the corner in Walton on Thames (Patent No: GB 325882 3/3/1930)
In the final part W G Barker on page 13 says; 'We have developed the [Grand] National coming up from Liverpool on the train. We had the luggage van turned into a darkroom with water in churns.....we rushed in a hansom to our drying room to get the prints made to show the same night'
You can read the full transcript HERE
Patents can also be a valuable source of information as can be seen from above. William Cecil Jeapes patented 'An improved method for Developing Cinematograph Films' in 1917 Patent No: GB111156 as well as 'Improvements in Printing Apparatus for Cinematograph Films' Patent No: 116921. He had a number of other patents from 1909 to 1930, the patents give his addresses as:
117 Charing Cross Road in 1909, Warwick Trading Co (Post Office Directory of London 1910)
76 & 78 Wardour St in 1918, Topical Film Co (Post Office Directory of London 1915)
The Drive, Belmont, Surrey in 1924,
90 Wardour St in 1930, Automatic Film Printers (Kine Yearbook 1930)
At the Palace Theatre, on Friday afternoon last, Mr. G. A. Smith and Mr. Charles Urban gave the first of a series of exhibitions of bioscope pictures in natural colours. These pictures were taken by the system described by Mr. Smith in hiss paper to the Royal Society of Arts in December last and some of them were pictures actually shown upon that occasion. Readers of THE BIOSCOPE are familiar with the subject, which was very fully discussed in those columns at the time, but an interesting development of the scheme is the series of ‘new pictures” which were shown on Friday. These consisted of a series of views of the Carnival at Nice, a Battle of Flowers, and a Water Carnival at Villefranche taken on the Monday afternoon and shown in London four days later.
In a speech which was delivered from the stage before the demonstration, it was stated that “every reason exists why the Palace management should be able to present all the leading events of the season in Nature’s incomparable hues.” It is proposed to include among these the leading sporting gatherings of the year, including a representation on Derby Night of the actual race for the Blue Riband of the Turf, showing all the colours of the horses, the jockeys’ jackets, and the crowd.
In the pamphlet distributed to the audience, Messrs. Smith and Urban claim to present “the veritable hues and tints of Nature.” It was true of many of the scenes, but the least expert in the audience could tell that a leaden blue was not the veritable hue and tint of a young lady’s arm, or that a cornfield was all one dull, sandy yellow. It may seem that these criticisms are captious, seeing that the bulk of the effects were excellent, but exaggeration at the present stage, which is so entirely an experimental one, is to be deprecated, and Messrs. Smith and Urban would be the first to admit that they have still much to perfect in their system. In the first place the successful manipulation of the panchromatic film which they use calls for very special knowledge and care, and from the exhibition on Friday it was clear that both the green and red filters easily got “out of register,” as the colour-printers call it, with the result that there are blinding flashes of red or green across the entire picture. Again, one may object—and we have done so before in these columns—to the very vivid tones of the greens and reds in these pictures. The green, in particular, is so aggressive that a single square inch of it in a picture is sufficient to swamp every other detail on the Screen. Finally, there was a very general consensus of opinion on Friday that these colour-pictures entail a greater strain upon the eyes than the ordinary black and white scenes. Messrs. Smith and Urban however, are to be congratulated on the success which they have achieved and the promise for the future which their system certainly gives.
Who Invented the Kinematograph?
Who Invented the Kinematograph - A talk with Mr J Hay Taylor The Newman-Sinclair Printer - Bioscope 27 October 1910
'Motion Photography with the Universal Camera' published by Burke & James Inc of 240-258 E Ontario Street Chicago. The booklet is undated. Buckey Grimm provided the following information: In the August 1921 edition of American Photography there is a short mention that states Burke and James of Chicago Ill, has just issued for distribution 2 booklets. One of which was a catalog of "Universal Camera's" entitled "Motion Photography".