Tuesday November 5 – 34 meeting of 2013
Today we had arranged for a tour of The Cinema Museum at Elephant and Castle. The pre-arranged tours cost £10, £7 concessions and only go at 2 pm so we arranged to meet a little later than usual at London Bridge and have lunch before the tour. A full complement of us today 9. We met and took the Northern Line to Kennington. With a trusty map we set off to walk and find the Toulouse Lautrec pub where we had booked a table but it all got a bit confusing. Not quite sure of the road to take and after asking a couple of people we finally arrived safe and sound. In fact we were on top of the pub and didn’t know it!
A very nice old Victorian pub decorated in a French style and upstairs was a large area with a beautiful white baby grand piano were there is live music nightly. Food and drink were good so I would think it would be worth a visit for the music. Jazz seems to be the very popular here.
From here we crossed the road to Renfrew Road and The Cinema Museum. A message on the locked door told us to ring to say that we had arrived! We did this and a man opened the door and invited us in. The man Ronald Grant co-founder of the museum and a life long film protectionist from Aberdeen was to be our guide. He took us into a small room which was set out as a cinema with about 50 seats, screen, projection room, in fact a mini picture palace. Our guide was very interesting and gave us a really informative talk on the building which was originally built as Lambeth Workhouse. The building we were in was the living quarters of the Master (head) of the workhouse. This was a superb building built in 1871. He told us of the connection of Charlie Chaplin born in the area and his mother being in this workhouse. We then started on the tour of the Museum. The first three large rooms were filled with film magazines, books, photographs. They were cramped with memorabilia so much so that it was almost impossible to enter them! Every inch of the walls were filled with all manner of items from cinema before 1950’s such as tickets, ticket machines, doors, posters, signs, photographs, projectors, paintings and we even saw some old carpet samples from 1930’s.
Upstairs we were taken into a very large room with a very high ceiling. This was the room used as a chapel, for meetings and assembly room when a workhouse. Now it is used for events for the Museum. Talks by people connected with the cinema, screening of special films take place here and it is hired out for private functions. You can also get married and celebrate here if you wish! Here we were given a warming cup of tea and a biscuit and sat and chatted for a while. We really appreciated this as the building was very cold!
We were taken back downstairs into the mini cinema and shown four short films spanning from 1910 – 1950. Outside we went to the annexe where we saw a display of old uniforms worn by cinema staff from 1920-1950.
Our guide also explained that the large water tower in the grounds had been converted into a five bedroom house and had featured on the television programme ‘Grand Designs’.
This was a very interesting tour. A great insight into the ‘Golden Age of the Cinema’. Many of the items on show we could identify with and it brought back great happy memories to me for as a teenager I was a keen cinema goer!