Jean-Claude SEGUIN


Les origines (1896-1904)

Dès le mois de septembre 1896, James D. Walker, qui exploite alors un kinetoscope, est rejoint par Edward George Turner pour monter des spectacles cinématographiques grâce à un appareil construit par Alfred Wrench. C'est sous le nom de "The North American Animated Picture Company" que les séances vont être organisées dès le mois de novembre et pendant plusieurs mois. Harry Dawson, en [1899] et Ernest Howard, en 1900, s'unissent pour former l'entreprise "Walker, Turner, Dawson & Howard" (c. 1900). Dès 1900, le nom "Walturdaw" apparaît dans la presse pour désigner un cinématographe.

The Walturdaw Co., Ltd (1904-1906)

C'est à partir de janvier 1904 que la presse commence à parler de "Walturdaw Empire Cinematograph". Et finalement, la société est formée en août 1904 d'après ce que rapporte Edward G. Turner dans ses mémoires :

Here we were joined by Ernest Howard, and as the name of Walker, Turner, Dawson, and Howard was cumbersome, we coined the word "Walturdaw," taking the first three letters of the names of the first three members of the company. Up to August, 1904, we worked in partnership, but in this month, we formed into a limited liability company, each of the partners agreeing to serve the new company for ten years.

Edward, George TURNER , "From 1896 to 1926", Kinematograph Weekly, 24 juin 1926, p. 40.

La société va connaître un rapide essor et elle propose à la vente de nombreux articles dont deux "bioscopes".

walturdaw 1905 publicite
The Music Hall and Theatre Review (Supplement to), 15 décembre 1905, p. vi

Outre ces activités commerciales, la Walturdaw commence à développer une production à partir du printemps 1905 : 

There is another recruit to the rank of film producing manufacturers, namely, the Walturdaw Co., Ltd., who are now producing for the first time films of their own taking. " The Handcuff Mystery Solved " is a good film showing the two Cirnocs performing their wonderful feats, and showing how they are done. They also have an operator following the train of General Booth in his tour in the East, and we should say that these films would be admirably adapted for Sunday League entertainments and those exhibitors who go in for sacred subjects.

Kinematograph Weekly, Londres, lundi 15 mai 1905, p. 165.

D'autres films sont annoncés au cours des semaines suivantes :

THE WALTURDAW CO. have many very interesting subjects in preparation; one which we think will be very successful is of great dramatic interest, dealing with one of Dickens's most interesting phases of criminal life. Among their humorous films, we would specially draw attention to "The Adventures of a Tailor's Dummy" and Walter Graham's "Living Marionettes." These are really amusing, and should prove very attractive.

Kinematograph Weekly, Londres, jeudi 15 juin 1905, p. 190.

La société va également founir ses productions à l'acteur américain, Richard George Knowles, installé à Londres depuis 1893:

MESSRS. WALTURDAW, LTD., at Dean Street, are making great preparations for the season, and their new films will be quite a feature amongst the Winter Exhibitions. The firm have supplied R. G. Knowles, the well-known entertainer, with quite a large selection of films, including Venetian, Rome, and Naples Pictures, in addition to several specialities from the series taken by their own representative in Jerusalem, including a street in Jaffa, oxen ploughing. camels entering Jerusalem, Holy Sepulchre, Mosque Omar, etc.

Kinematograph Weekly, Londres, vendredi 15 septembre 1905, p. 243.

knowles rg
Richard George Knowles
(Hamilton, 1858-New York, 1919)

La publication d'un catalogue, en octobre 1905, marque une claire volonté de diffuser ses produits et ses productions. Il a la particularité de proposer des informations et des conseils pratiques destinés en particulier aux opérateurs :

Walturdaw, Ltd., Dean Street, W.C.,
Have several new films in preparation, in addition to those already noted in our columns. This enterprising firm has just issued a most comprehensive Catalogue, which, in addition to the usual price list of accessories and plant of all kinds in connection with the cinematograph, magic lantern, and photo trades, contains a great variety of valuable and practical information to all interested, whether operators or only private buyers. This Catalogue will be issued to all applicants on receipt of 6d. for postage, and we venture to say that all who avail themselves of the offer will receive full satisfaction.

The Optical Lantern and cinematograph Journal, Londres, dimanche 15 octobre 1905, p. 281.

La Walturdaw va s'adjoindre les services de plusieurs opérateurs et cinématographiques qui sont chargés de prendre des vues pour le répertoire de la société :

THE Walturdaw Co. have secured a large contract for a series of pictures on "Indian Scenes and Life," for which they have just sent out to India a full staff, with an entire developing plant, so that the films will be completed where the pictures are taken.

Kinematograph Weekly, Londres, jeudi 15 février 1906, p. 74.

D'autres acteurs, c'est le cas de Tom Green, vont jouer dans des films tournés par la Walturdaw :

MR. TOM GREEN, the well-known stage-director and comedian of cinematograph fame, having completed some fine pictures for Messrs. Cricks and Sharp, of Kingsway, is now engaged in producing some of his startling and original pictures for that well-known London firm the Walturdaw Company, of Dean-street, Holborn. Showmen will do well to watch the coming events, they are something out of the common.

The Era, Londres, samedi 7 avril 1906, p. 27.

green tom
Tom Green (Spalding, 1852-Brentford, 1942)
Old man Drinking a Grass of Beer (George Albert Smith, 1897) (fragment)

Il est d'ailleurs fort possible que ce soit le propre Tom Green qui réalise les films où il intervient. Par ailleurs, Henry Howse va se consacrer à voyager pour tourner des vues en Palestine, en Inde. Par ailleurs, la Waturdaw va se renforcer avec l'arrivée de Richard Collier, un transfuge de chez Pathé, responsable du dépatement des ventes :

The Walturdaw Co.
Changes have been more in evidence in connection with this firm than with probably any other and the increase in their business speaks eloquently of the ever growing importance of living pictures. A notable development at Dean Street has been in connection with the sales department which has lately received more attention than ever before. Mr. R. Collier joined the firm from Pathés about a year ago and now attends to this part of the business, in connection with which we understand he has arranged for the agency of some of the leading American and Continental maker's films. Walturdaw have just recently opened additional premises for the development more particularly of topical subjects. They now take every event of importance and supply a large proportion of the topical subjects shown at the Palace. It should also be mentioned that Mr. Howse has recently returned from a trip round the world on their behalf, resulting in many good pictures which have not yet been put on the market, while the machine department continues to make good sales of the Walturdaw projectors and fittings.

The Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly, 19 septembre 1907.

L'été est une saison propice, grâce à l'ensoleillement, pour le tournage des films et la Walturdaw multiple en 1906 les prises de vues : 

THE glorious weather of the past month was taken full advantage of by the various film manufacturers, and we look forward to seeing some exceptional pictures when the developing stage has been passed. The Walturdaw Co. were taking a film a day for something like a fortnight, and every other concern was working hard stocking up with subjects for the winter rush.

Kinematograph Weekly, Londres, mercredi 15 août 1906, p. 189.

La société fait preuve d'une réelle vitalité et elle multiplie les sorties de films :

Walturdaw Co.
The trade generally will be sorry to hear that Mr. Howard, of this company, has been away from business for some time with quinsy. He is reported to be mending, however, and we wish him a speedy return to his customary activity. The misfortune was all the greatest, coming as it did when the busy season has well set' in. Walturdaw, Ltd., are revelling in orders just now. As soon as a film is joined up of any of their best subjects it has to be sent off to a customer. They have sold over 50 of the Bulldog film, although it has been on the market for barely a fortnight, while " Bird-nesting " and "Murphy's Wake" are still going merrily. Those who have seen these three subjects will realise that they are likely to rank among the best sellers for a long time, while, though prophecy is a dangerous thing, we are willing to undertake that the Zoo series will equal if it does not surpasse them all in popularity. 

The Optical Lantern and Kinematograph Journal, lundi 15 octobre 1906, p. 237.

Et après (1907-[1925])

Henry Howse reste l'une des figures principales de la société et continue à tourner des films :

The Walturdaw Co. Inform us that Mr. Howse has set out on an eight months' tour in search of pictures, in the course of which time he will visit practically every corner of the world, including, we believe, China. It will, of course, be some time before his subjects begin to be published, but when they are they will probably be the most complete pictorial record of little known parts of the world ever issued. The Walturdaw Co. have just put another Indian subject on the market. It shows the famous Ganges and the pilgrims bathing, and in another section an Indian funeral pyre, and is a good addition to the already long list of Indian subjects published by the same firm. Their Ceylon Tea Industry is a comprehensive picture, showing every phase of the work, from the actual picking of the leaf to its dispatch. They have also put out a good comic in A Little Bit of String, which shows what mischief boys, with a tendency in that direction, can effect in a short space of time.

Kinematograph Weekly, samedi 15 décembre 1906, p. 37.

La Walturdaw connaît également un certain succès avec son Auxetophone qui n'est en fait qu'une variante du phonographe ou graphophone et qui semble pouvoir se combiner avec un projecteur :

THE MUSIC HALL AND THEATRE REVIEW. Pioneers of the Picture. Messrs. Walker, Turner and Dawson. THERE is probably no name more familiar with users of the cinematograph throughout the United Kingdom than "Walturdaw." This trade title is derived from the first syllable of the names of the first three principals in the firm, namely—Mr. J. D. Walker and Mr. E. J. Turner, who started as machine makers only, exhibiting the films of the firms in Great Eastern Street and Stoke Newington, and Mr. J. H. J. Dawson, who entered the business some four years afterwards. A year later they were joined by Mr. Ernest Howard. The firm is a limited company.
"Walturdaw" commenced operations exactly a month after Paul had introduced his animated pictures at the Alhambra, and Lumiere his at the Empire, a fact which proves them to be among the, oldest in their line. Mr. Turner reckons that he and his associates built up their reputation by originating the hire and rental system, a method now commonly practised throughout the trade. The company first began to make its own films about three years back. "The Naval Nursery," illustrating the life of a youngster on a training ship, immediately caught the public taste, so did "How the Bulldog Saved the Union Jack," a patriotic picture of India. A long line of successes brings them up to "Glorious Goodwood," the " Coventry Pageant," the " Naval Review," and the " Maiden Voyage of the Lusitania.' "They have now ready for the market, an extremely well-arranged American film of seven hundred and sixty-five feet, entitled " The Farmer's Daughter," full of domestic incident. Really interesting and worthy of inspection is the "Walturdaw" fireproof machine. It is fitted with an automatic instantaneous shutter as a precaution against fire. But even if by gross carelessness the operator should put this out of gear, the machine is so constructed that the lime, one of four thousand candle power, merely burns an inch square out of the film by way of informing the negligent one that he must see that his shutter is in order—a matter of a second or two, and then the picture can proceed as though nothing had occurred. It is'an invention worthy of the closest attention of all exhibitors. Another valuable accessory of which the firm is proud is the " Walturdaw" arc lamp and resistance, for which there is a steady demand. At the showrooms, which occupy Nos. 2 and 3, bane Street, Holborn, W.C., there is a busy scene throughout the day and the greater part of the night. Here we may see the firms latest novelty in the way of a singing picture machine, called the "Cinematophone," a marvel of synchronism. The price of, this is Z 72. The " Auxetophone," which the Walturdaw" Company claims to be the loudest and finest singing picture machine yet invented, costs £l7o. In this connection we cannot do better than reproduce a letter written by Mr. Thurston, the well-known Norwich showman, to Messrs. Walker, Turner, and Dawson : " Dear Sirs—After very carefully studying singing picture machines, I decided to purchase yours, and I now write to say how pleased lam with it. It is proving a great attraction everywhere I go. It is simplicity itself to operate and has always worked well on every occasion. I need hardly say that I shall recommend it most highly to everyone, and you are welcome to send any of your customers down to see it working at any time." The majority of the pictures are taken at Wembley Park, where the studios are situated. They possess the entire rights over more than five hundred acres of ground in this district. A small army of scenic artists, " property " makers, actors, actresses, and so forth, are constantly at work in the evolution of " Walturdaw " wonders. During their career as exhibitors they have never broken a contract. Their clients have included the King and many other members of the Royal Family. No fewer than fifty complete outfits are kept in readiness,.and the company guarantees to dispatch a machine and an operator to any part of England within half an hour of the receipt of the order. " Walturdaw " is represented in all the principal cities of the world, as well as by a branch office in the Rue Richelieu, Paris. Over five hundred music halls and theatres employ this firm's outfits. Their two latest films, " The Story of a Locket " and " The Brother's Sacrifice," are highly dramatic subjects which cannot fail to appeal to patrons of the cinematograph. Woodland and Film Land. The Sylvan Surroundings of Cricks and Sharp.

Music Hall and Theatre Review, vendredi 4 octobre 1907, p. 228.

L'anné 1910 marque un tournant dans la gestion de la société puisque Dawson et Howard quittent la "Walturdaw" :

The Directors of the Walturdaw Company, Ltd., beg to announce that Messrs. G. H. J. Dawson and E. Howard, participators in the original private business of Walker, Turner, Dawson and Howard, and for the last six years acting as Managing Directors with the Walturdaw Ltd., have voluntarily resigned their positions in the Company as from September 1, 1910.
Messrs. Dawson and Howard, while retaining a very large financial interest in the Walturdaw Company, Ltd., are preparing to specialise in an independent way in various branches of Animated Photography, and the Directors wish them every success in their undertakings.
Signed J. D. WALKER ,E. G. TURNER, Managing Directors.

The Bioscope, 15 septembre 1910, p. 33.

walturdaw 1910 gravure
The Kinematograph & Lantern Weekly, 3 février 1910, p. 716.

La Walturdaw va continuer à produire des films jusqu'au début des années 1910, puis elle se consacre à la distribution de films. La société est dissoute le 17 juin 1925, mais le nom continue à être utilisé pendant des années, en particulier pour désigner des appareils cinématographiques.


"A Brief Description of Walturdaw Enterprise", The Optical Lantern and Kinematograph Journal, samedi 15 décembre 1906, p. 43-50.

"Fifteen Years of Progress. The Waltudaw Company's Grand Record", The Bioscope, 28 octobre 1909, p. 49-50