HISTORY MISTORY OR HISTERY MISTERY OR IS IT HYSTERY MYSTERY?
According to documents that were retained in our records, we started up as a result of an advert being placed in THE HEMEL HEMPSTEAD GAZETTE. I also seem to recall hearing that the advertisement appeared in the December edition of that journal. Our founder was Frank Maidment and that the inaugural meeting occurred above a hairdressing establishment in Lawn Lane. To me this was very clean cut and clear. In fact evidence to back this up is by the minutes of our first AGM being held in April 1961.
However, I did hear from someone, who was in process of compiling a list of competition winners, that they had provisioned for the possibility of the club being in existence in the 1950’s. He was informed from someone of this possibility. He was going to investigate, but due to a promotional work situation, he had to leave. Further evidence of us originating in the 1950’s, arose when a chappy installed a new carpet at home and informed me that his father had belonged to this club. To the best of my memory, he referred to a town carnival which was filmed in 1959. And yet our early newsletters and yearbook state 1960.
But this still is intriguing as there are, or were, clippings from the local newspaper reporting our activities also in our records. In some we are referred to as The Hemel Hempstead Cine Club. And yet our name was The Hemel Hempstead Cine Society (This was our title prior to Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers). I, at first put this down to an error. Or was it?
A few years ago, I was conducting some research for something consisting of local history material. In order to do this, my activity involved looking through microfilms of old Hemel Hempstead Gazettes, which in turn were making me bleary eyed. I had by coincidence discovered reference to an organisation which during the post war years, put on film shows at local village halls. I also later discovered that they had made films. But they did not appear to be us. Nor am I clear as to what percentage of their shows were amateur, professional, pre-made or specially made. However, my eyes popped out of my head, when I saw a 1958 report of a meeting at The Bell for The Hemel Hempstead Cine Club. Also some familiar names appeared. This certainly disagreed with our year book which clearly states that we started in 1960 and the backup evidence of our first AGM in 1961.
In fact in a December 1960 edition of The Hemel Hempstead Gazette, Hemel Hempstead Cine Club is mentioned again. I had difficulty in finding the advert which is reputedly to have started us off, but instead this reference was yet another report of a club meeting.
In the wake of all this, I was pleased to meet John Walker, who joined this club some years after I had, but left during our Leverstock Green era, as he moved district. However, he did join our counterparts in Milton Keynes. At a visit during our previous hall’s era, (Bourne Methodist Church Hall), I spoke to him at the tea break. The reason being, his name appeared in the 1958 and 1960 press reports. He confirmed that he was the same John Walker. Then came the bombshell. He claimed that he had started our club. When asked about Frank Maidment, who was regarded as the founder member, he said that Frank had as well. When I also mentioned Vic White and John Pewsey, he said, ”Yes. We were all founder members.” Whether the Hemel Hempstead Cine Club formally folded up, started again immediately, took on a new name or another club came along is not clear and became a little grey area in the conversation. We had to continue with the meeting, and so the conversation never resumed. I also heard at a later meeting, that he might be coming back. But so far he has not. Irrespective whether he does or not, I think we should regard him with reverence.
So, what about Frank Maidment, who according to current records, was the originator of the the society? Well he ran a business called Studio One. (Not to be confused with Brian Harris’ Studio One silk screen printing business.) Frank’s business was a photographic shop. Eventually it expanded into the holiday and travel scenario. This portion of business became larger and the photographic side got less. There is a report in a Hemel Hempstead Gazette plus publicity, when comedian Norman Vaughan opened Frank’s new premises. He donated the Studio One Shield for the holiday and travel competition and was chairman. But by 1963, his involvement with Hemel Hempstead Cine Society became less, due to his business commitments. During the 1980’s, by a chance in a million meeting, I was informed by his ex-wife that he had moved to Spain. [We subsequently heard in 2015 that he had died.]
Another early member, who died just before I joined, had a trophy dedicated to him called The Vic White Sound Memorial Trophy. John Pewsey, who until I found out about John Walker, was regarded as the last of our founder members. Although John Pewsey’s membership was more continuous. He left the club during our Leverstock Green era. He moved to Leighton Buzzard but sadly died.
Some of the ladies associated with us in our early years have been Hilda Stearn, Eve Bysouth and Joan Allen. I do not know what happened to Hilda. But I believe she did acquire the post of secretary. Eve starred in reputedly our first club production, TAKE THE ‘L’ OUT OF IT.(Circa 1962) She also, as far as I am aware became our first lady chairman/chairperson. Joan Allen was recently interviewed by the local press about her days when she was a nurse. I do not know if Vicky Rewell was a very early member with her husband Harry.
If anyone knows more about the origins of this club, irrespective of name, please let us know. Otherwise we will have to spend a large amount of money to hire out Sherlock Holmes. Alan French. 2009.
Useless information post script: Are you aware that according to the earliest rules and regulations that I have ever came across, that anyone who joined The Hemel Hempstead Cine Society, had to be sponsored by one of the members? A lot of people don’t know that!