Friday, 18 December 2009
Arthur Melbourne-Cooper: the cinema show at Ridge, this day in 1895
On this day in 1895 Arthur Melbourne–Cooper, still only twenty one years old, put his projector and equipment onto a cart and set off for Ridge village hall. It was probably getting dark, the weather might well have been as cold and wintry as today’s and the horse or pony had a fair way to pull it all…eight miles or so, maybe round the back lanes through Cottonmill to Napsbury and then up the long drag of Black Lion Hill to Shenley and then along the lanes shown in these images.
The audience, who had paid, maybe only a penny or two, must have been excited about this holiday treat. So amazing did it prove to be that some of them when interviewed in the 1960’s still talked of how wonderful it had been to see moving pictures for the very first time. The title of Tjitte de Vries’s book is from what one of them said..it was a marvel to see even the leaves on the trees moving. All of them , even the little ones, the shiny-eyed five and six year olds in the front row, are dead now, but there is a direct line of enchantment between them and their Christmas evening of moving pictures that night in the village hall, and us and our never exhausted love of film. We inherit their pleasure and excitement every time the credits roll up and the first shots of a movie take us up into its world. Did Arthur Melbourne-Cooper, as he and the cold, tired horse plodded back to St Albans, have any idea of what they’d started?