We’ve had a lot of help from volunteers for the Duke Of York’s 100 project, researching, collecting & interviewing. Here are some of the people who have given their time.
As a mature student who has recently graduated and looking to make a career change, I find myself in the all too common predicament of – Can’t get a job without relevant experience and can’t get relevant experience without doing the job! To work on a project in association with Brighton University and the Duke of York’s picture house, within the media arts and social history fields is sure to be a really exciting and rewarding endeavour. The experience will allow me to draw on my existing strengths whilst enabling me to develop new skills which will help me to bolster my CV.
Creating Timelines is a Reminiscence Project that works with sheltered housing projects across Brighton and Hove. The members of the CT Collective are: Rena Feld, Mille Oliver, Beryl Thorne and Teresa Cairns.
The process of reminiscence is primarily for the benefit of the participants and this is central to the work of Creating Timelines. Reminiscence puts into perspective an older person’s life and this experience promotes a sense of well-being; entertainment and recollection of past laughter and enjoyment is vital to this process.
Amongst older people’s experiences, the Duke of York’s Picture House is embedded in memories of film going in general across the city, and reminiscence group participants have already related their knowledge of the other 23 cinemas that they remember in the city. We have carried out several small group interviews, and have a number of individual oral history interviews planned during the summer. July 2010
I have recently graduated from university and have been looking to gain museum-related work experience. This project has given me an insight into a new dimension to the field, through its endeavour to educate, excite and inspire people through the medium of a virtual museum. I became involved in the Duke of York’s Centenary Project in writing up interviews for the Memories section of the website. Listening to the individuals’ intimate snapshots of their relationship with the cinema, past and present, has been a privilege and a really engaging experience. I have loved feeling more connected to the wonderful cinema and its place in Brighton through peoples’ stories as well as gaining experience in the realm of oral history and transcription.
‘In contribution to the Duke of York’s Centenary Project, I have been scanning microfilmed pages of local newspaper entertainment listing
s at the Brighton History Centre to build a partial archive of images relating to film programming at the cinema. I have written a paper concerning the images in relation to Humphrey Jennings’s term ‘imaginative history’, which I would suggest characterizes every mode of research undertaken b
y the project, by nature collective, cumulative and multidisciplinary. The listings archive does not give a complete picture of what’s been showing at the Dukes, the images cover one year in each decade of its history and I posit that these gaps are necessary for interpretation and imagination. The use value of the archive is based on the role of local newspapers to serve but also define their readership or imagined community. Listings engage in the ‘culture’ of cinema-going, they participate in a set of practices and the exchange of meaning between members of a community, and present sites of cinema experience in relation to one another visually, as topographic descriptions of the local entertainment landscape.’
As a Duke of York’s member for a few years now, I think it is a special and unique place – the film programme, the building and the atmosphere combine to make it what cinema going is all about.
I’m intrigued by the cinema’s past, its place in Brighton life and how it has reflected people and society over the past 100 years.
My contribution to the project has been to write and record key memories and events, so that the Duke of York’s history is appealing for a wide audience.
I’ve been fascinated by how the Duke of York’s has weathered changes over the hundred years – from state of the art opening in 1910, falling on hard times during the second world war, escaping becoming a bingo hall during the 60s and 70s and its rebirth as an arthouse cinema. But it’s also the small details that are touching – I’ve learnt with fondness how French pastries were served in the early days as the height of sophistication and how the first manager encouraged the audience into a rendition of ‘God Bless the Prince of Wales’ from the orchestra pit.
It’s great to be part of a living, breathing history in the community which is of national significance too – I thoroughly recommend getting involved, even with your own memories of the Duke of York’s.
The opportunity to help with the ‘Duke of York’s 100’ project has been hugely rewarding and also very challenging. Whilst volunteering I’ve been studying for a postgraduate qualification in Information Studies, so it’s provided a valuable opportunity to put theory into practice. Initially my time on the project was spent creating a catalogue which is now being used to archive all the material relating to the project. The catalogue contains a vast array of material in different formats – all of which relates to the Duke’s over the past 100 years. Newspaper cuttings, personal recollections of visits to the Duke’s and cinema programmes make up just some of the content of the archive. For each item, an individual record has to be created which lists the item’s subject, the period to which it relates and a brief description, along with other bibliographic information. The material is also scanned, so that an electronic copy of the original can be kept alongside the record. All of this information is then organised and stored on the catalogue, so it’s secure and can be located quickly when needed in the future. Although the majority of the material has now been catalogued, new material is still coming in, so there is always something to do. It’s been fascinating to work with everything that’s been collected so far. Once the project is completed, the plan is to move the catalogue and archive into the care of the curators at Brighton & Hove City Council’s museum service, where hopefully it’ll serve as a valuable source of information about the Duke’s and the people who have been associated with it.
I have recorded two oral histories, undertaken some historical research and helped with preparation and promotion for the project and related events. The oral histories were challenging as I had not attempted any before and so learned about recording, transcribing and editing interviews.
In the early days there was a phrase ‘The mirror of life both grave and gay, the world at work and the world at play’ written over the front entrance arches of the cinema and my quest is to find the origin of these words. I have already found a link to a cinema in Australia, so who knows where this might lead me?
The other historical strand I am interested in is the first owner, Violet Melnotte-Wyatt. She was an actress during the latter half of the nineteenth century and a woman that I, being a Victorian enthusiast, found intriguing.
I am also helping with the preparation and presentation of the guided tours of the building. This combines my enjoyment of sharing information with my love of dressing up!
I have always enjoyed going to the cinema but since moving down to Hove found it a rather dispiriting experience until I discovered the Duke of York. This coincided with me retiring a few weeks ago and when I heard about the 100 project I jumped at the chance of becoming a volunteer to help garner people’s memories of the cinema. Just reading a few entries on the website I found it fascinating that one venue can trigger so many different memories and emotions. I wanted to learn more about our local history and by volunteering I am able to do so with the added bonus that it gives me the opportunity of meeting people for a chat
I am interested in this project because it offers a combination of two of my great interests – cinema (particularly the DoY ) and oral history. I have completed 2 terms of the Life History course at CCE (as was) at the University of Sussex and am a long-time member of the cinema (I was involved in the interviewing for the ‘Back Row Brighton’ book published at the end of last year by QueenSpark) so hope I may I have something to contribute. As I am now working part-time I would like to use my spare time to do something with some lasting value – however small and this certainly fits the bill
‘I am working on a treatise called: “From Flea-pit to art house: how and why the Duke of York’s survived the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.” This will be my dissertation for the MA in Life History Research I am writing for the University of Sussex. It seems to me that the primary periods of crisis were the middle years: the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. I have interviewed a local historian to get a picture of the area, and had many interviews with people who knew the cinema in the period in which I am interested.
I have put some of these interviews up on the website “100 project” and thanks to them gained a much fuller idea of the atmosphere of the cinema over the decades. My thesis is that the Duke of York’s survived mainly because of the responsiveness of different owners to the varied demands of their changing audience. As well as this its survival as a cinema was helped along the way by it having been built where it was; by the law of unintended consequences in that a full bingo licence was not granted to it and by the closure of the BFI in Brighton in 1978.
I have written a Dissertation about how the Duke of York’s survived in its troubled middle years: the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
I focus on the middle years in the life of an institution: how and why did the Duke of York’s survive in Brighton when so many cinemas went to the wall at that time. Having been built as the focal point of entertainment in a thriving area in 1910 and remaining as such for the next 50 years, it overlooked the changing demography of the London Road in the ‘60s, it embodied the drab meanness of much of the ‘70s and then, thanks in large part to the BFI leaving Brighton, it became the art-house venue so beloved of students in the ‘80s. This is public history but I have also gathered the private memories of some of the people who worked in it, who went there and for all of whom those walls contain very special memories. Until 1976 it was family run and owned and during this time it entertained people to tea and gangs to fights. But when the family sold up the owner thought the end had come for small cinemas. The next four years were critical and although some would say that its survival was mere serendipity, I will argue that it was the conscious flexibility of successive owners and the persistence and determination of their audience which ensured its continuance.
My Dissertation will be available to read after mid November
My work for the Duke of York’s 100 Project centres on recording the oral histories of past and present audience members of the cinema.
Without an already-existing database of those ready and willing to record their memories, the initial months of my project have been concerned with networking and identifying potential interviewees.
This has been achieved through publicising the oral history project on social networking sites, tapping into the two university alumni networks, and liaising with local community groups.
My focus is both on the past and the present, with an understanding that today’s experience of cinema-going will be of value to future social historians and film researchers.
I am particularly interested in the group screenings (e.g. Big Scream, Silver Screen, Autism-Friendly) that are currently a part of the Duke of York’s programme, and what they tell us about our social landscape today.
Throughout the summer months I shall continue to record memories in the hope that they will form a very vital and dynamic part of the Duke of York’s Picturehouse archive.
After volunteering at the Duke of York’s for the 2009 Brighton Film Festival and frequenting it each week to watch films, I am thrilled to be part of the Duke of York’s 100 Project. As a student, and therefore a fairly new resident to Brighton, the project has also helped me to become more involved in my adopted community and the historic landmark that is the Duke of York’s cinema.
For my part of the project, I have been interviewing students, young adults and current employees of the cinema for a more contemporary view. I had never interviewed anyone before this project, so I bought a Dictaphone and started asking questions. These interviews often grew out of question and answer sessions into wonderful, sprawling conversations about film. I have focussed largely on the late-night screenings that the cinema offers as I think they are fascinating and unique events in this country. Finding out why people go to them is very special, as they are almost secretive screenings. In addition, I have also been scanning in my ticket stubs from the past year of going to the Duke’s and writing about these films to demonstrate the kind of programme that the cinema was showing at this point in history. In twenty years time, I hope that people will look back on my interviews and find them thought provoking and interesting and that they accurately present this beautiful cinema in 2010.
My main goal with the Duke of York’s 100th year celebration project is to document and archive material that has been delivered through various stories surrounding this wonderful place- The Duke of York’s Cinema. I have always been a keen admirer of film and being able to contribute with telling stories to the wider public about this place (full of wonderful memories relating to films) is a rewarding opportunity.
I help to transcribe, edit text, sound, video material, and to optimise it to place it on the site www.dukeofyorkscinema.co.uk
The following people also volunteer on the project;.Anton Collins, Pete Thompson, Sabina Collier, Sylivia Bernat and Lorna Cruickshank,Rena Feld, Susan Lennard, Beryl Thorne and Patrick Whitaker.