FIRST - The Precision Film Studio - Wood Street, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 34.913 W 000° 00.011
30U E 707830 N 5718800
Quick Description: This Waltham Forest Heritage blue plaque, attached to a building at the south end of Wood Street, indicates that this was the site of The Precision Film Studio, the first of the Walthamstow studios, that was here from 1910 - 1915.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 1/24/2021 6:14:28 AM
Waymark Code: WM13PJ9
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member model12
Views: 1

Long Description:

The wording on the Waltham Forest Heritage blue plaque reads:

Waltham Forest Heritage

The Precision Film Studio
1910 – 1915
On this site in early 1910 the Gobbett Brothers built
for the Precision Film Company Limited
the first of the Walthamstow film studios.
This pioneering studio was the first of its type and
its design would be much emulated throughout Britain.

The East London & West Essex Guardian website has an article about the Walthamstow studios that tells us:

Film director Barry Bliss has uncovered Walthamstow's forgotten silent studios in Wood Street.

There are real parallels with Hollywood in Walthamstow,” says film director and scriptwriter Barry Bliss. He has been on the judging panel for this year’s Walthamstow International Film Festival and has been impressed with the calibre of talent taking part. However, he is keen to delve further into the cinematic history of the town he has lived in for 35 years and has been campaigning for a permanent monument to Walthamstow’s Silent Film Studios in Wood Street. Barry has recently released a book of photography called, Art As An Act Of War, which features shots of local photographers using an original 1930s film camera.

He explains why it is important people don’t forget about such a defining part of British cinematic history.

He says: “There seems to be a complete and utter indifference to the cinematic industry, even though the first film distribution company in Britain was founded in Walthamstow.

The film studios were only there for a very brief time, from 1910 to 1926, as they just died out but even in that short space of time, they left a huge legacy that is unfortunately unknown about.

Film companies chose Walthamstow as a location as it they wanted to get away from the crowds of London, as people kept getting in the way of the shot. The Gobbett brothers, who were film pioneers, decided to build a purpose-built studio in 1910 called Precision that was on the corner of Wood Street. A few studios followed suit including Broadwest, British and Colonial and IB Davidson.”

Barry admits that he only found out about the studios after he moved to Walthamstow after getting married 35 years ago, as the people in the area were full of stories from when they were growing up in the area.

He says: “When I first got married, we bought a little house in Ravenswood Road and our next door neighbour was a very elderly lady. I got chatting to her one day and she remembered as a small girl, a film crew from IB Davidson set up their cameras in her front garden and were making films about anarchists.

Some were dressed in black and were carrying a ball with a fuse coming out of it, which had the word ‘bomb’ written across it, in case the audience was in any doubt about what it was.

She said her mum came out and chased them away as they hadn’t asked permission to film there. That was what got me onto the idea that these film studios were around here.”

Barry feels it is a shame that the old buildings are no longer around for people to visit and learn more about.

He says: “The buildings are long gone, as they were just rebuilt and redeveloped into factories over the years. The sad thing for me was that part of IB Davidson was only pulled down last year, as the back of the building was the original studio, although the rest of it was originally built to be a tram shed. It was a very long, low building and was taken over and adapted. I was gobsmacked to see it had disappeared and there was just rubble.

Precision was purpose-built to be studio, as was Broadwest and British and Colonial was actually a roller skating rink that was taken over. These companies were very good at taking over old buildings and adapting them, which is why I think they are no longer there, as they keep being reused for different things.

People can’t just drive along and have a look now and even if they go past the old sites, they won’t give it a second thought or even realise the significance of what it is.”

Barry says he will keep campaigning to keep the memory of the film industry alive, despite ongoing redevelopments in Walthamstow.

He says: “The pub down Wood Street is still there and that is where they used to get the extras for the films, who wanted to earn sixpence and I remember talking to someone down there who said that if you couldn’t afford to pay full price to see a film, you could pay a penny to sit behind the screen and watch a film in reverse. This was popular among children, who liked to watch movies in reverse as it was cheaper for them.

The only other location that still exists is the dairy building down Wood Street. The last time I looked, the courtyard was there and was still cobbled. They shot some of the movie Dick Turpin there, so at least there is something left but sadly, I’m sure it will be developed over soon.”

FIRST - Classification Variable: Item or Event

Date of FIRST: 1/1/1910

More Information - Web URL: [Web Link]

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