Hollywood E17: the studios beyond the fog zone

First things first – you’re all invited to a bank holiday Monday party! Some friends of mine, based in London’s most happening* postcode of E17 will be unveiling a plaque on 1 May 2017 to celebrate a slice of suburban London’s silent movie history. And you should be there!

Walthamstow was home to several movie studios in the silent era – Precision, British & Colonial, Broadwest and I. B. Davidson all had their premises on these streets. Why? Because silent film producers loved to shoot in the suburbs, beyond the “fog zone” of central London, where the air was muggy, and apparently the movie-savvy punters would try to get their faces on camera. But they liked to stay close enough to Theatreland that their actors could get back to work after shooting finished.

And yes, Walthamstow has always been super cool.

So on 1 May, actor Paul McGann (who you may know is a bit of a silent film fan) will be unveiling a special blue plaque to mark the sites of the Precision studios, and he says: “I am proud to be associated with this event to give the deserved recognition to the silent film pioneers of the last century.” There will be more plaques to follow, marking the site of each studio.

After the ceremony, the assembled guests will retire to a nearby pub, which was once a regular hangout for film industry types in the teens and twenties, to toast “Hollywood E17” and maybe share some tales and titbits. The Hollywood E17 team are really keen to hear from people who have stories about Walthamstow’s silent film history – whether it’s research or family anecdotes.

To get a ticket for this event, sign up here on the Eventbrite page. Please do also visit the Facebook page, and share the invite with all your friends. You can find out more about the Walthamstow studios, and the Hollywood E17 project, as well as sharing your stories, here on the Hollywood E17 website (but please do bear with and remember that this is a work-in-progress).

Broadwest Film Company's Wood Street studio, Walthamstow
Broadwest Film Company’s Wood Street studio, Walthamstow

Film director Barry Bliss, who has lived in the area for many years, and who first instigated this project, says:

“There seems to be little knowledge of our local film tradition, even though Walthamstow was at the forefront of the fledgling industry with many originators including the first film distribution company in Britain created here. The founders were the trailblazers of their time. The film studios were only there for a very brief period, from 1910 to 1926. But even during this short time, they created a huge legacy that has been, sadly, all but lost to us.”

Check out this beautiful invite postcard by bespoke invitation courtesy of @stowbrothers and @wearebuild.
Check out this beautiful invite postcard by bespoke invitation courtesy of @stowbrothers and @wearebuild.

There is more to come from the Hollywood E17 project – the plaques are just the beginning. So stay tuned!

*Says me.

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