Hutchison House Club and Camperdown House
Contributed by Survey of London on Dec. 13, 2018
Yoel Sheridan grew up in Goodman's Fields in the 1930s and 40s and has written about the experiences of his family at this time in a book called 'From Here to Obscurity' (Tenterbooks, 2001).
"Although one could not generally see silent films in the many cinemas, private clubs would show them to members. One such place was the Hutchison House Club of which Yulus's athletic twenty one year old diamond mounter brother was a member. One some Saturday evenings, after Shabbas, his brother would take Yulus to a silent film show in Camperdown House in Half Moon Passage. The hall, that was utilised for all types of physical and social activities, had a polished wooden floor. One wall was lined with wall-bars up which athletes could climb and lift and stretch themselves in all directions. In one corner, a vaulting horse and other athletic equipment had been placed to clear the centre of the hall for rows of chairs and wooden benches. A cinema projector stood on a raised table at the back of the hall and the projectionist was focusing the strong white light onto the silver screen at the other end of the hall. The screen was secured by cords stretching from its four corners to two upright posts on either side. Classic silent films were shown. These included Charlie Chaplin, Our Gang, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and other comedies, serious dramas, and Cowboy and Indian films. Sometimes there was piano accompaniment but on most occasions the audience provided the music by singing whatever song they thought was appropriate for the scene being displayed. Members of the audience might shout out some comment at a crucial moment such as, Look out behind you, when a hero was being stalked by his enemy or make some amusing remark that would cause the audience to break out into laughter. In some ways silent films had an advantage over talkies, because going to the silents was like going to a social gathering."