Wednesday, 5 th May, is the centenary of the death of William Friese-Greene. The Archive is pleased to remember this Bristol-born inventor in the field of cinematography again, Reece having first done so in organising the Bristol end of the centenary celebrations of F-G’s birth in 1955 for the Friese-Greene family.
Those fortunate enough to have a copy of Bristol As It Was 1953-56, and better still to have the 2nd edition with its added photographs (several thousand letterpress copies sold, now out of print), will know the story as told by Reece. In his 1969 Introduction to the first edition Reece, writing only some 15 years after the centenary, opens with the question of ‘what will be of interest to future Bristolians’, citing with his usual prescience, in this the ‘centenary year of 2021’. By the end of 2021 we hope to review here just where F-G stands today. In the meantime, for those not up to speed with current F-G material, here are some pointers.
Copies of the four BBC radio broadcasts put out in 1955 have yet to be found. These included the family’s view of F-G’s achievements and the sound recording of the speeches made at the 1955 unveiling of the birthplace plaque on 12 College Street. The silent film made by Ken Pople of Bristol Amateur Cine Society can be watched below.
We are very grateful to the Society, now Bristol Film & Video Society, for permission to provide this link to their copy. The Archive’s copies of the BBC broadcasts are in need of conservation before they can be played. Suffice it to say, after Eastman- Kodak’s version of cinematographic history was published in 1955, it was thought by those groups funding the plaque unwise to describe F-G other than The Pioneer of Cinematography. Reece’s speech however described F-G as the Inventor, and said the birthplace should be preserved as a museum of cinematography, rather than be demolished for a car park.