Albany WARD

(Londres, 1879-Torquay, 1966)

ward albany portrait

Jean-Claude SEGUIN


William, James Bonnor (1840-) épouse Emma Gertrude Alloway (1837-). Descendance:

  • Charles H. Bonnnor (1870-)
  • Ernest J. Bonnor (Empingham, 23/11/1872-Torquay, 22/06/1950)
  • Mary L. Bonnor (1875-)
  • Hannam Edward Bonnor dit "Albany Ward" (Londres, 06/11/1979-Torquay, 18/02/1966)
    • épouse (Londres, 20/11/1899) Edith May Robertson (Londres, 15/10/1873-Londres, [1915]).
    • épouse Dorothy Grace Hembrow (Barton Regis, 23/09/1894-Canford Cliffs Poole, 20/11/1976). Descendance:
      • Dorothy Ward Bonnor (Weymouth, 1918-Weymouth, 1918)
      • fils
      • fille
      • fils


Fils d'un chirurgien (recensement 1881), William, James Bonnor fait ses études - recensement 1891 - à l'école Christ's Hospital (Newgate Street) à Londres, où il est rentré le 20 mai 1888.

ward albany portrait ecole
Hannam Edward Bonnor à l'école Christ's Hospital
collection familiale
source: COOK, 2008: 295.

La formation avec Birt Acres (1894-1897)

L'épisode le plus marquant de cette époque est sa rencontre avec Birt Acres, probablement à l'été 1894, dont il a gardé le souvenir :

Spending his time devoted to his great hobby, taking photographs... I myself have seen Mr Acres up to his chest in sea water taking rough sea studies and also taking cloud studies as well... In the course of conversation, he told us [sic] that he was greatly interested in producing moving pictures on which he had been experimenting for some time and that he had produced a machine which gave very satisfactory results and that he was Intending to start on his own account in the moving picture production almost immediately, and in 1894 hopened a small studio and film works and offices in High Barnet in a private house, quite near the centre of the town.

WARD ALBANY, Mémoires. [cité dans COOK, 2008: 295].

Le 20 décembre 1894, il quitte l'école pour rejoindre sa mère qui habite à Ilfracombe. Toujours dans ses mémoires, il semble dire qu'il va commencer à travailler, en septembre ou octobre 1896 avec Birt Acres:

[Birt Acres] had produced a small number of films in his small studio at the bottom of the garden with an outdoor stage and behind the stage he had a workshop which was fitted up with lathes (foot treadle driven). etc, as he did the whole of his base film production, importing the rolls of celluloid from America about 36' wide, or it may have been a metre wide. which he cut up on the lathe often spoiling a considerable quantity of it and this film was then perforated by a hand driven perforator and subsequently went up to the house where we had proper dark rooms fitted up and we did our own emulsion coating of the film, Mr Acres making up his own emulsion and the film was wound on to large wooden drums where it was allowed to dry. Needless to say, a great quantity of good material was spoilt not only in the cutting up or the celluloid but sometimes in the perforation, and the perforations were not too good and also at rimes the emulsion seemed to run out streakily on to the celluloid. I have spent long and weary hours in the dark room, particularly during the coating period.

WARD ALBANY, Mémoires. [cité dans COOK, 2008: 296].

Dans les mois qui suivent, il va être associé à Birt Acres pour des tournages comme celui du Jubilé de la Reine Victoria en juin 1897 avant de quitter ce dernier en août de la même année, avec un jugement assez sévère sur son mentor :

I left that Mr Acres was not sufficiently progressive from a business point of view and that he was letting opportunities slip by and that his competitors... were stepping in and getting in front of him.

WARD ALBANY, Mémoires. [cité dans COOK, 2008: 297].

The Velograph Syndicate Company (1897-1898)

C'est en août 1897 qu'Albany Ward va rejoindre la Velograph Syndicate Company. Installée à Croydon, elle exploite un appareil cinématographique dont le brevet a été déposée, le 1er août 1896 par G. H. Harrison et T. J. Harrison :

[Q]uite a good projector which was manufactured by Butchers of Thornton Heath The peculiarity of this particular machine was that it had a perforated shutter which, in the case of extreme black and white films had the effect of giving rather a streaky result, but apart from that was, in my opinion, the best Projector on the market at that time, although there were, of course five or six different makes, including one by Wrench which was quite a good machine.

WARD ALBANY, Mémoires. [cité dans COOK, 2008: 297].

C'est en tant qu'opérateur de projection qu'Albany Ward va présenter des vues animées dans plusieurs music-halls dans la région de Croydon: le Palace, le Metropolitan, le Tivoli... Il se souvient des conditions de projection à cette époque :

At that time on the Music Halls we showed from behind through a transparent screen, viz. a fine calico screen which was thoroughly damped with water and glycerine. This screen which was stretched on a frame which we travelled with us, and I well remember now, on one occasion, getting fearfully ticked off by Marie Lloyd, who was the Turn following us as we wetted the stage rather badly, to which she took very strong and forcible objection, particulary as far as language was concerned.

WARD ALBANY, Mémoires. [cité dans COOK, 2008: 297].

Il va se rendre également à Birmingham, Manchester, Eastbourne...

The Albany Ward's Velograph Company (1898-)

recensement 1901: Cowley St John (Oxfordshire)

recensement 1911: Weymouth

British exhibitor


He saw his first film show in 1896, and soon afterwards joined the Velograph Company, managed by Adolphe Langfier, as principal operator (projectionist). By day he worked in their printing and developing rooms, by night projecting their films as a turn in the music hall programmes of the Palace Theatre, Croydon, the Metropolitan, Edgware Road, and other music hall syndicate theatres. At that time the image was projected from behind rather than from the front of house. This was achieved by a fine calico screen thoroughly dampened with a mixture of water and glycerine. Major variety stars, and especially Marie Lloyd, he recalled, strongly objected to the wet effect this had on the stage. He toured the provinces with a full version of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee (1897), which he turned into a complete show by linking the films with songs from a vocalist and interludes by an entertainer. He left Velograph in 1898 to go out on his own, and toured the West of England, being the first moving picture exhibitor to reach parts of Devon, Cornwall and Wales. Ward introduced sound effects to accompany these shows, and had great success synchronising noises to various 'Phantom Rides' as trains passed through cuttings and tunnels. Also effective were his noises off during war scenes of battles in the Graeco-Turkish War, the Boer War, and similar. On 1 January 1900 Ward leased a hall in Cowley Road, Oxford, opening it as the Empire Theatre with a combination of films and variety acts. A great success was Georges MélièsTrip to the Moon, especially when his sound effects were added. In 1906 Ward established his first permanent theatre in Weymouth, and built up a circuit which he eventually sold to PCT (Provincial Cinematograph Theatres Ltd) in 1920.


COOK Patricia, "Albany Ward and the development of cinema exhibition in England", Film History, vol. 20, 2008, pp. 294-307.