Friday, May 27, 2011

Cinema event at Cuming Museum

I enjoyed the Museums at Night event at Southwark's Cuming Museum this month (13th May). It was loosely themed around the cinema, starting out with Chris Roberts giving a quick overview of teddy boy riots at the Coronet Cinema and other tales of Elephant and Castle 'juvenile delinquents' including the Elephant and Castle mob and the Forty Elephants female shoplifting gang. The Lava Link in Camberwell was also mentioned, one of the country's first roller skating rinks in the late 19th century - with a floor supposedly made from volcanic lava from Vesuvius.

Martin Humphries talked about the Cinema Museum, based appropriately enough in a former workhouse building in Lambeth where Charlie Chaplin once stayed (2 Dugard Way, SE11). The place is a cornucopia of cinematic artefacts - posters, furniture, fittings, even some very natty usherette uniforms which the Cuming staff modelled on the night. I must check out the Cinema Museum sometime, their exhibits includes some stuff from the Gaumont Cinema in Lewisham. They actually have a couple of talks coming up on June 11th going into the history of the Trocadero and other Elephant and Castle cinema buildings in more depth.

Andrew Pavord from Southwark’s film office talked about film making in the area today - not just crime shoots on the empty Heygate but all kinds of other movies, adverts, TV programmes and music videos. The biggest movie shot locally recently was The King's Speech, with Iliffe Street on the Crampton estate transformed into a 1940s street scene.

Vanessa Woolf-Hoyle gave a magic lantern display, telling the story of Peter Pan using some original slides from a century ago. Her lantern is a refurbished original, rescued from Nigel of Bermondsey's grandmother's attic in New Cross.

Incidentally, the Trocadero on New Kent Road by the Elephant had musical as well as cinema signficance - Buddy Holly and the Crickets played their first UK gigs there in 1958, attracting a crowd of 4500 over two sets . The great Paul Robeson also appeared there, I believe in the 1930s.

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