Film: 1148

Social History | 1920 | Silent | B/W

Clip:

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Synopsis:

Evocative 1920s footage of activities on the new sports roof at Kennards department store in Croydon, Surrey (which stood in North Street on the site now occupied by Debenhams and the Drummond Centre), followed by clips of participants in a local talent contest hosted by the store. Shopping.

Gaumont script appears: 'Kennard's of Croydon. Sports Roof for children'. Children and adults ride horses on a merry-go-round, turning leftwards on the picture; the man turning the wheel, dressed smartly in a suit, stands in the middle looking straight ahead, while adults watch from the other side of the merry-go-round. A close-up of two girls on the horses, perhaps waiting to go round, their hands gripping the tops of the horses' heads; adults look on from behind, before the camera moves left a little, bringing some schoolboys in caps into view.

A Moroccan snake-charmer, with a snake draped across his right shoulder, holding its head with his left hand, walks rightwards showing the snake to seated spectators and others standing behind, until he disappears beyond the right of the picture; some bunting can be seen hanging down from above. A close view of the man holding the snake towards us, while spectators look on from behind and bunting flaps overhead.

In front of the same crowd, a woman dressed skimpily, with a long black net shawl draped over her, dances on from the right, perhaps attempting a scene from 'Swan Lake' at first: she throws back her head and puts her palms flat on the ground, so that her body arches up, and then raises and bends her left leg; she continues to dance.

A close-up of two young children, (probably) a boy on the left aged 1-2 years and an older girl on the right; a black-gloved hand appears from behind with a small cuddly toy, which another hand from the left positions; the girl giggles and puts her hands to her mouth, looking round.

The Gaumont script reads: 'Roof-top gaiety at Croydon - where there's also a mannequin parade …'. The camera moves left, passing over a crowd, a number of whom are holding up something (perhaps mannequins?), and some lines of Union Jack bunting, buildings and rooftops.

The script continues: '… including The Twelve Bathing Belles - supported by Miss Mabel Whiteman, Champion Swimmer of the Midlands'. A line of young women in bathing costumes, with jackets over their shoulders, walk on from the right, each with her left hand on the shoulder of the woman in front, while seated and standing spectators look on from behind; the eight swimmers stop and the camera lingers on them, flags flapping above, before they start to move left again. We see spectators again, before the swimmers walk on one-by-one from the right, most taking off their jackets and giving a twirl, then moving on; the camera lingers on the spectators, before the swimmers appear from the right again, exactly as they first appeared.

The script continues: '… and the visit of TRISS SHARP, captain of the Crystal Palace Speedway Track. Here he is trying his skill against a Member of Kennards' Staff'. We look down a wide track, with spectators at either side, as a man at the far end drops his arm and two men in cycling headgear ride children's bicycles or scooters awkwardly towards us; one falls off and then struggles on again; they turn around at the bottom of the picture and begin cycling away from us, but the cyclist who fell off earlier deliberately cuts across before he has reached the far end, moving in front of the other cyclist for the next lap.

'Prizes are offered almost every week. This was the scooter race for little girls!' One girl in a white and another in a dark dress race the kind of bicycles that we have just seen around the same track. A view looking down over a crowd watching four children struggling along the track; bunting can be seen in the foreground, and rooftops and a church tower in the distance.

'Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse cause great fun among both children and adults AND …'. We look down upon one corner of a crowd looking on as someone dressed up as Mickey Mouse stalks around at the bottom of the picture, peering at the spectators and holding his tail, while someone dressed as Minnie Mouse can be seen standing in the corner among the spectators; at one point, a girl and a boy on ponies are led through the crowd and the central space by a man in a white coat and rounded hat; bunting flaps on lines overhead and, in the background, a man pushes a child around in a model bi-plane. Mickey and Minnie Mouse dance together before they are interrupted by someone dressed as a cat, who chases them and pokes Mickey.

The script continues: '… rides in the model Air Liner 'City of Glasgow' and on the beautiful Shetland Ponies are ALWAYS VERY popular'. We follow the model bi-plane glimpsed earlier leftwards across the screen, while a row of spectators look on from behind. A close-up of two girls sitting in the plane, with the name 'City of Glasgow' visible at the end, while a man in a white jacket holds the propeller. The girl who we have just seen on the right of the picture now approaches us, from an entrance bearing the name 'Riding School', along a wide track with spectators at either side; she is led by a man in a long coat, winged collar, hat and riding boots; he leads her back, away from us, at a greater pace.

'This is Kennards of Croydon. Always something going on. The store where goods cost less than they should'. The camera moves rightwards along the Art Deco shop front, finally resting on the main entrance. A sign says: '… and now Kennards have bought John lewis's of The Broadway, Wimbledon. And a GIGANTIC SALE is now being organised to clear all the stock at less than half price. Sale commences MONDAY NEXT'. A new script: 'Film of the Croydon Times Search For Local Talent, as photographed at Kennards'.

A '1' appears against a black background. A girl in a wide straw hat on the back of her head, wearing a white frilly dress, speaks to the camera. A bespectacled man sitting in an armchair strokes a small pony, while to his left a small child sits on the edge of another armchair behind a box (about the size of the pony) labelled 'TINY TIM, The World's Smallest Horse, ON TOUR. Please Do Not Drop Me. T.T.'

'2'. A young girl in a white dress speaks and gestures to the camera. '3'. An elegant woman dressed in black sits in an armchair, while another woman wearing lighter colours sits on the arm; they talk and then laugh, looking to the left. '4'. A boy in his teens with blonde, wavy hair talks to someone off-screen and looks up above. '5'. Probably two sisters sit close together, the one on the left dressed in a lighter dress, while the one on the right (probably the elder) wears a polka dot dress; they look at each other, then, slowly, away from each other and back to face us.

'6'. Two boys in their teens face each other, the one on the left in a dark suit and shirt with a checked tie, while the one on the right wears a light suit and shirt with a dark tie; they argue like gangsters, poking each other in the ribs, the one on the right eventually seizing the other by the lapels. '7'. A long-haired girl looks around above her in wonder, before looking down in sadness. '8'. A young man in a light suit alternates between a stern expression and laughter. '9'. A young girl in white smiles shyly and glances up and around, then down. '10'. An elegant, chic young woman sits in an armchair in a lounge setting, reads a newspaper, then gets up and walks towards us; she looks at the camera, then shows each side of her face in profile.

'11'. A woman in a sailor's jacket gives a recitation with gestures. '12'. An early example of gurning: a woman with her eyes closed pulls a long face and turns to give us a profile view; she turns back with her eyes open before pulling a forced gap-toothed smile, and finally yielding to genuine laughter. The same woman, now with her hair down, pulls a stern expression and looks to either side, a gap-toothed grimace breaking through occasionally. '13'. A young woman with short brown hair feigns first delight, then laughter, anxiety and entrancement.

'14'. A young girl with a ribbon in her hair smiles shyly, then looks to the right and waves before looking at the camera once more. '15'. A girl with thick, untidy blonde hair, wearing trousers, sits on a stool fidgeting and laughing. '16'. An elegant young woman with long brown hair looks ahead and to each side, talking and laughing. '17'. A bespectacled woman in a straw hat, with the front turned up, fiddles with her hands, then holds them up, while she performs a comic monologue of some kind.


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