Professor Ian Christie : Rescuing a pioneer: Britain’s forgotten creator of cinema
Not many people, even among film enthusiasts, realise that what we know as cinema really started in London in 1896. Robert Paul demonstrated his new projector on the same day at the Lumieres reached London, and within weeks both their and his shows were competing at major music halls in Leicester Square. But unlike the Lumieres, or indeed Edison, Paul wanted to expand the range of what animated photography could do. Over the next five years, he pioneered multi-scene fiction films, literary adaptation, documentary and many other kinds of film. With his wife, he opened Britain’s first studio, in Muswell Hill, in 1898, and built up a substantial international business – not only in film, but also in scientific instruments. So why is Paul not better known? Ian offered some suggestions, as well as showing a selection of Paul’s surviving films.
Hugh Hayes : A Park for Finsbury
Hugh’s talk outlined the complex history and reasons for the creation of Finsbury Park over nearly thirty years up to its opening in 1869, followed by some highlights from its history, including the public meetings that were held in the park, the park during the second World War, the Finsbury Park Theatre, and the £6 million pound restoration of the park in 2002-7, looking at changing attitudes to parks, followed by questions. It was illustrated from Hugh’s large collection of ephemera relating to the park.
Jan Marsh : The Pre-Raphaelite Sisters
Dr Jan Marsh is the curator of a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery opening on October 17th focussing on the women assosciated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Attention is usually given to the male artists of the brotherhood but the women were vitally important to the Group as muses, supporters, models, stylists, partners and several were notable artists. The talk and the forthcoming exhibition featured twelve of the women and Jan’s talk offered illuminating insights into their importance to the movement. Much research had gone into finding out more detail on their lives and has revealed many stories of success, frustration, sadness and inspiration. Some of the women are relatively well known, such as Effy Millais and Christina Rossetti, but we discovered the work of less well known women such as Evelyn De Morgan Jane Morris and Maria Zambaco.
Roger Hamilton : Climate Change – Where Are We Now
As there has been a great deal of interest in this topic Roger has kindly agreed that the text of its talk and the slide presentation be made available for members’ personal use only and not for further distribution.
Download the text of Roger Hamilton’s talk
Download the accompanying slide presentation
Jayne Forbes : A Solo Traveller’s Tales
Many of us are cautious about travelling alone, but CE&DU3A member Jayne Forbes is something of an expert, having crossed the Sahara, trekked the Himalayas, swum the Amazon and just accompanied by a backpack and a good map. Jayne shared her experiences, which include dining out on tarantulas in Cambodia and crossing a minefield in Western Sahara. She has travelled throughout India, China, the Middle East, Europe and South and North America. Just about everywhere except Antarctica. There have been funny and challenging moments; dodging bandits and happy coincidences to share with us. Jayne is just back from 3 months in Africa and we were lucky to catch her and share her expertise and experiences before she heads off again. You will never fear travelling alone again!
John Hinshelwood : Crouch End and District: a photographic record from 1860 – 1920
An intriguing glimpse back in time to see how our area looked between 100 and 150 years ago. The Hornsey Historical Society acquired a collection of prints assembled by the North Middlesex Photographic Society in 2001. John Hinshelwood catalogued the collection and created a digital database of the prints, several of which were included in the National Photographic Record Association’s collection now held by the V&A Museum. This talk outlined the work of the local Photographic Society in recording local landmarks for the photographic record & survey of England’s buildings, monuments and customs of historic interest made in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Ahead of our very first Annual General Meeting, we welcomed all the way from Durham acoustic duo, Carol and Steve Robson, who are Fool’s Gold. For an hour or so the audience became honorary Geordies and was entertained by stories and traditional songs from the North of England and further afield, as well as being introduced to one of our most impenetrable dialects. After a cautious start the audience thoroughly warmed to Fool’s Gold, and joined enthusiastically in the choruses requested of them. The show ended with a renditon of Leadbelly’s old favourite Goodnight Irene
Sandra Clark : Singing witches, authenticity and innovation: Macbeth on the Victorian Stage
Macbeth was one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays in the nineteenth century, and all the major actors, including Samuel Phelps, William Macready, Sir Henry Irving, Helen Faucit and Ellen Terry, tried their hand in the main roles. Productions were characterised by music and spectacle, including large numbers of singing witches. One of Shakespeare’s shortest plays often took more than three hours to perform. The talk considered the range and variety of the productions and the innovations some performers introduced.
John Withington : Living to 100 – The Secrets of the Centenarians
Those who came to a very well attended meeting were treated to an entertaining talk by author and TV producer John Withington on living to 100: he was delighted to meet our very own centenarian, Betty Romary (pictured above, with CEDU3A Vice-Chair Sally Whitaker) who recently reached this milestone. Drawing on a wealth of studies and statistical analysis John outlined the factors that could lead to living to one hundred – being female, a good diet (Mediterranean, of course – and avoiding a full stomach), no smoking, no or low intake of alcohol, education, affluence (a higher than average number of centenarians live in Monaco!), a working life that did not involve heavy manual labour, perhaps being a member of the Royal Family, and of course, genes. John illustrated his talk with the stories of centenarians – from all walks of life, including the Labour MP Manny Shinwell (the only centenarian to speak in the House of Commons), cigar-smoking comedian George Burns, the film star Olivia de Havilland, the singer Vera Lynn, song writer Irving Berlin, architect Oscar Niemeyer and aircraft designer Thomas Sopwith, among others. At the beginning of the meeting John asked for a show of hands to ascertain how many would like to reach 100 (not many, it transpired). By the end of the meeting perhaps a few more thought that becoming a centenarian might not be such a bad idea after all …
*John Withington is author of: Secrets Of The Centenarians: What Is It Like to Live For A Century And Which of Us Will Survive to Find Out? Reaktion Books, 2017.
Peter Cox : The History and Development of John Lewis and Waitrose
Drawing on the research for his book Spedan’s Partnership: The Story of John Lewis and Waitrose (2010), the centenary of Lewis’s Big Idea, to give the business to its employees – thereafter called Partners – in the form of a Trust, Peter Cox told the story of Spedan’s vision, its early years, how it battled through a testing period during and after the war after its main Oxford Street store was destroyed by bombing, down to its position of pre-eminence today. He brought the story up-to-date and outline his U3A project to document the changing face of the high street East Finchley, Muswell Hill, and, hopefully with a bit of help from CEDU3A members, Crouch End.