(Wolverhampton, 1871-Londres, 1933)

gibbons walter

Jean-Claude SEGUIN


John Gibbons (W'ahmpton, 1843-) épouse Mary Ann Gibbons (Hereford, 1843-). Descendance :

  • Arthur Gibbons (W'hampton, 1870-).
  • Walter Gibbons (Wolverhampton, 14/05/1871-Londres, 22/10/1933)
    • épouse (Londres, 29/01/1902) Nellie Isabelle Payne (Londres, 08/09/1881-Park Cottage/East Sheen, 01/01/1911) . Descendance :
      • Ida Mary Gibbons (Londres, 08/05/1903-Londres, 31/12/1904).
      • Adney Walter Gibbons (Coldblow, 07/08/1906-Londres, 23/05/1941)
        • épouse Constance Ada Shotter (1906-1989)
        • épouse Edith Marguerite Marion Bishop (1907-)
    • épouse (Londres, 01/07/1912)Doris Blanche Lee (Londres, [1893]). Descendance :
      • Edgar Walter Lee Gibbons (1917-1943)
      • Ursula Georgina A. Gibbons (Marylebone, 03/1920-Londres, 05/2005).
  • Hubert Gibbons (W'Hampton, 1873-).


Dans un entretien donné à la presse, Walter Gibbons évoque ses débuts dans la manufacture dirigée par son père où, malgré son peu d'intérêt, il acquiert une formation :

My father was manager of Messrs J. Neve and Son, a large firm of iron and nail manufacturers at Wolverhampton, and much to my chagrin he insisted upon my going right through the routine of the works, including the managerial department. I regretted having to work at the bench and the lathe at the time, but it has since proved of incalculable value to me, and has helped me to climb the ladder of success.

The Era, Londres, samedi 20 octobre 1900, p. 22.

Après avoir occupé cet emploi à Wolverhampton, Walter Gibbons commence une carrière de chanteur. Un article publié en août 1900 donne de lui un portrait assez précis: 

The many hundreds of Bexhillians who witnessed with delight the recent exhibitions of Gibbons’ Bio-Tableaux may be interested to know that Mr. Walter Gibbons is the young man who is the inventor of the new improved system of presenting the moving photographs. The Gibbons’ system is his exclusive property, and is in use at the Hippodrome and 15 other places of amusement in various parts of the kingdom. Mr. Gibbons, who is only 29, says "M.A.P.," is a native of Wolverhampton, and was brought up in the midst of machinery and inventions. His father, now retired from business, was the superintendent of a large manufacturing plant. Inventors are born to their calling, and Mr. Walter Gibbons has been at his work since childhood. Now has a big place in Chandos-street full of novel labour saving machines invented and carried out by himself.
For two years Mr. Gibbons has been working on invention that is expected to make a triumphant debut in about a week. At present the advantage of the Gibbons system is that it enlarges from smaller negatives than any other, and at the same time makes a clearer picture. The new invention, if as successful as experiments promise, will absolutely away with all vibration, and will present the pictures clearly and continuously without any of that flickering that has so long been the bane of delicate or tired eyes. In appearance Mr. Gibbons is typically English, fall, slender, well-proportioned, and quite goodlooking. He has the face that many army officers have—a high nose, regular features, light brown hair, and smallish, bright, keen eyes. Well-dressed, with easy manners, there is little of the self-made man, and less of the inventor in his personal appearance.

Bexhill-on-Sea Observer, Bexill-on-Sea, samedi 18 août 1900, p. 4.

Les Bio-Tableaux (1898-1900)

Par la suite, il fait l'acquisition d'un Bioscope de la Urban grâce auquel il va monter son spectacle "Bio-Tableaux" avec des films de la Warwick. L'une des premières annonces date du mois de septembre 1898. 

gibbons 1898 bio tableau
The Era, Londres, samedi 17 septembre 1898, p. 31.

Quelques semaines plus tard, un début d'incendie se déclare, mais la réaction exagérée de la presse fait que Walter Gibbons proteste:

THE Tivoli was on Monday evening the scene of an alarming incident. A little before nine o'clock, whilst the lantern used for the display of the Anglo-American Bio-Tableaux was being prepared for use, and after the electric current had been turned on, a curtain fell on the top of the lamp, and the next moment there was a flare-up. The people in the audience who were in close proximity were, of course, alarmed, and for the space of a minute or two it seemed quite possible that a serious panic would follow, though, thanks to the prompt action of the management and the staff, this was fortunately averted. Mr Vernon Dowsett at once appeared on the stage by the side of Harry Randall-who was doing his "turn" at the time- and coolly assured the audience that the flames were merely the result of a slight mishap to a box in which preparations were being made for the production of the Anglo-American Bio-Tableaux pictures. Order was quickly restored, and the outbreak being extinguished almost simultaneously, the performance was proceeded with, scarcely a seat having been vacated.
Sir,-We are requested by our client, Mr Walter Gibbons, the proprietor of the Anglo-American Bio-Tableaux, to write you, correcting the grave error occurring in the daily papers with regard to the above scare. It was not, as stated, that the films caught fire, the exact circumstances being as follows:- Mr Gibbons was personally testing the carbons (twenty minutes before the time of his turn), a plush cloth which overhung the operating-box fell on to the lantern and immediately caught fire. This was, however, speedily extinguished, and the performance continued as if nothing had happened. As usual, though, in such cases, "a mountain has been made out of a veritable mole-hill." The Anglo-American Bio-Tableaux showed with its customary success the following evening.
Yours faithfully, G. and F. PEEL.

The Era, Londres, samedi 22 octobre 1898, p. 19.

Dans les mois qui suivent, il présente son spectacle en différents lieux: L'Alhambra (juin-octobre 1899), Stratford Empire (Swansea, novembre), Cardiff (Andrew's New Hall, novembre), Newport (Empire, novembre-décembre), Metropolitan (Cardiff, janvier 1900)...

gibbons walter 1899 stratford
West Ham and South Essex Mail, samedi 4 novembre 1899, p. 2.

Il accorde un entretien au journal Music Hall and Theatre Review:

IN the recent progress of the variety stage there is to be remarked no more popular, and certainly no more admirable, feature than the Cinematographic pictures which are outdoing illustrated journalism, and which, it would seem, can never exhaust their interest. These pictures have been infinitely valuable to the variety theatre in attracting a large class of people who previously would not take the trouble to find out what amusement and comfort, what pleasant and healthy recreation -generally, what good value for money they got there. 
These pictures have been wondrously developed and improved since their first exploitation, but still they progress towards incredible perfection. Already an event can be depicted on the very evening after its occurrence. What a privilege to many, and what a delight to anyone so to see the Derby, the boat race, &c. And then, of what immense interest and value are the scenes from the war in South Africa. What a clear idea is to be gained of the difficulties our troops must overcome, and how instructive it is to see, vividly presented, the actual country in which so many of us have friends and relations passing through such stirring times. All over England these moving pictures are to be seen, representing to the inhabitants of Birmingham, Hull, Bradford, Swansea, Newcastle, in fact, wherever a Moss Empire is to be found, scenes which otherwise they would have no chance of appreciating. Thanks for this is largely due to the enterprise of Mr. Walter Gibbons, whose Bio-Tableaux are going the round of the Moss circuit, besides being a most important feature of the programme at the London Hippodrome.
Mr. Gibbons is quite a young man. He has always had a passion for electricity, engineering, and inventions. Years ago, for instance, he invented a machine extensively used in the manufactory of nails. When Mr. Gibbons addressed himself to the cinematograph, in a very short time he became a leader in its enterprise. Mr. Gibbons is wrapped up in his business, and is most enthusiastic about its future. He is confident that the vibration which is apt to be so distressing will be completely done away with. Indeed, his most recently exhibited pictures at the Hippodrome are wonderfully clear and steady.
" The difficulty," said Mr. Gibbons, " is entirely in the magnification; and, as several people are hard at work trying to obviate the difficulty, it cannot be very long before the pictures are as steady as could be desired." 
Mr. Gibbons is sanguine and enthusiastic to a degree that is quite exhilarating. His Bio-Tableaux have the great advantage over other cinematograph pictures that there is not much complication in their mechanism. This is the secret of their great success in the provinces. They can be so easily moved from town to town every week, and are easily set up and manipulated.
The Bio-Tableaux films are among the smallest used, thanks to Mr. Gibbons' ingenuity, and this means a tremendous saving in expense. When we are told that the difficulty is in the magnification, and note that the effects from these small films are the steadiest yet achieved, we can appreciate their excellence. The number of pictures necessary to a view is quite extraordinary. Even one which lasts a minute will require 1,800 pictures. So many as 100,000 pictures are used during a performance at the Hippodrome. 
These pictures have endless uses. For instance, Mr. Halford wished to exhibit his new gradient railway, so far only to be seen in a model. Mr. Gibbons, who is a keen engineer, photographed the model for his Bio-Tableaux. It is, of course, intensely magnified upon the sheet, and shown off to very great advantage.
An amusing fact may be noted in reference to a view of some war supplies crossing a bridge on the Orange River. The very first person who goes over the bridge is Mr. Rosenthal, a noted photographer, who, having just taken a series of pictures on one side of the river, is crossing with his camera and tripod, and being taken by another celebrity of the photographic world—to wit, Mr Edgar M. Hyman, of the Empire, Johannesburg. 
Mr. Gibbons is about to move into very fine new premises in Chandos Street. The large building will afford every facility for the daily-increasing business. With such a hard-working and brilliant young enthusiast at its head, we may Expect great things from it. As he himself cheerily remarks, the greater and greater perfection of the pictures is only a matter of time, and not such a very long time either.

Music Hall and Theatre Review, London, Friday 18 May 1900, p. 11.

Il présente également son spectacle sous le nom de "Royal Biorama" et fait passer dans la presse des annonces sur des pages entières.

gibbons 1900 londres hippodrome gibbons 1900 londres hippodrome 2
The Era, Londres, 21 avril 1900, p. 21. Music Hall and Theatre Review, Londres, vendredi 6 juillet 1900, p. 16.

Les vues de la guerre des Boers ne sont pas les seules qui attisent l'intérêt des spectateurs et Walter Gibbons cherche également à acheter les droits des vues prises lors de l'éclipse du 28 mai :

THE "Eclipse of the Sun" pictures, as shown by the Bio-Tableaux at the London Hippodrome, are causing quite a sensation nothing of the kind having ever been seen before. the enterprise of Mr. Walter Gibbons, who is the sole proprietor of the Bio-Tableaux, is endless in the search of news subjects, and the possession of the world's rights in these "Eclipse" pictures should bring him both lucre and renown.

Music Hall and Theatre Review, Londres, vendredi 6 juillet 1900, p. 10.

gibbons 1900 londres hippodrome 3 londres 1900 hippodrome gibbons 02
Music Hall and Theatre Review, Londres, vendredi 3 août 1900, p. 16. The Era, Londres, samedi 6 octobre 1900, p. 21.

Les bio-tableaux vont avoir un fort retentissement outre-Atlantique et la presse publie plusieurs entretiens avec l'inventeur :

It does not often fall to the lot of a young man under the age of thirty to achieve distinction and honours, or to amass for himself a respectable fortune. Mr Gibbons's only capital appears to have been his brains in the first instance, for he managed to overcome the defects of the latest cinematograph in the market, and placed his new "Bio-tableaux" last month at the London Hippodrome, where it has met with unanimous approval. How he has done this is best told in his own words. It was no easy matter to run him to earth, for he is about the busiest man in London. A man who controls practically the cinematograph market, who has operators all over the world, and who is beseiged from early morning until late at night by clients, both in the entertainment world and out of it, whose unfailing energy will not allow him to stand still a moment; whose every spare second is devoted to the study of either astronomy, optics, pneumatics, colour photography, or some other interesting science-to say nothing of the multitudinous plans to be laid for future campaigns- is just about as difficult to find, and occupy for half-an-hour, as the Commander-in-chief of the British army on a field day.
" When did you first think of taking up the animated picture business, Mr Gibbons?" " Oh, about three years ago. It occurred to me in this way. I was visiting a certain music hall one evening, and there was an exhibition of animated pictures, which, to my idea, were anything but perfect, and, being of a mechanical turn of mind, I came to the conclusion that in improving these pictures-as well as the mechanism ; it was really the latter, I subsequently found out, that wanted the radical improvement-there was money, and not only that, but distinction. So I set to work. I had only just arrived from the country, without a friend in the world; still, I made a determined effort to 'strike oil,' and I think I may say I have succeeded." " But surely you must have had some mechanical training? You could not as a novice take so intricate a subject up, and forthwith succeed." "Exactly. I am a skilled mechanic. I can make a nail-machine, and manufacture a ton of nails on it if necessary. My father was manager of Messrs J. Neve and Son, a large firm of iron and nail manufacturers at Wolverhampton, and much to my chagrin he insisted upon my going right through the routine of the works, including the managerial department. I regretted having to work at the bench and the lathe at the time, but it has since proved of incalculable value to me, and has helped me to climb the ladder of success. "I suppose you actually constructed your first Cinématograph-I should rather have concluded that such was the case." "No, I have constructed many, but not that of my first public showing. It came about in this way. I bought a similar machine and apparatus to that I had seen exhibited at the music hall. I took it home, pulled it to pieces, put it together again, and after experimenting, I made up my mind to go one better than anybody else, provided I could get a chance to show my pictures. With this object I went to Mr George Adney Payne and asked him to give me an opportunity.
gibbons walter 1900
This he did, but, like all business men, he did not decide at once to engage me. I approached him again, and he came and saw a show which I give at the Tivoli, and engaged me straight away. Incidentally he has been the greatest friend I have ever known, taking quite a paternal and whole-hearted interest in my career. I feel much indebted to him, as he has been my guide and counsellor ever since I came to London. Immediately I invented my new Bio-Tableaux it was snapped up by Mr Moss for the Hippodrome.
" Have you been long with the Moss combination?" "Quite a long period. After Mr Adney Payne had engaged me I was engaged by Mr Moss for the Moss and Thornton tour-a recommendation in itself to any artist-and I have been almost continuously with them, also with Mr Oswald Stoll, who is the managing director of the West of England circuit of the same. Then came the Hippodrome engagement, where I made a great success even from the outset. I made my greatest hit on Sept. 6th last with the new Bio-Tableaux, an invention of my own, on which I had been working for over two years. The press have pronounced this to be the best machine and series of pictures before the public." " Tell me, Mr Gibbons, first of all, how it came about that you so suddenly extended your business premises to such vast dimensions ; was it on account of the anticipated revolution which the new machine would make ?" "No, my business has been growing so rapidly that it became necessary to take larger premises. Let us take a walk round, and I think you will agree with me that everything is about as perfect as can be for the due fulfilment of the business."
A tour round Mr Gibbons's wonderful premises at 60, Chandos-street, Charing-cross, revealed some very startling facts. First of all we encountered a young army of operators, assistants of various degrees, clerks, and general helpers, stacks of cameras, stands, and paraphernalia ready to be sent out on expeditions for the purpose of securing pictures for the edification of the public. Downstairs a huge store, on the ground floor a splendid testing-room, with machine, lamp, and screen all fixed. Then Mr Gibbons proceeds to show us the remarkable difference between the new and the recently ousted machine. There is no similie what- ever. They are as different as the opera glass and the telescope. It would hardly be fair to the inventor to state here the technicalities by which he has over- come the disagreeeable "'flicker "or produced the splendid stereoscopic effect which is manifested on the screen. Suffice to say, he has managed in a very remarkable way to obtain for his New Bio-Tableaux perfect balance in all the component parts-a scientific problem which everybody will admit-and the abolishment of the shutter which, as Mr Gibbons puts it, " was optically wrong." He adds, " Rays of light, when once perfectly formed, should never be interfered with. The shutter was invented for the purpose of cutting the rays in the front of the lens in order to divide the myriads of pictures as they were thrown on to the screen. This shutter broke the rays in its revolution. They never became united, and consequently spoilt the beauty of the picture. Again, the shutter was too narrow, as the outside rays always got abroad and caused a general greyness on the entire picture."
Upstairs, we discover darkrooms, drying-rooms, developing baths, revolving washers, driers, printing machines, perforating machines, motors, electric appliances, and what not, all used in this wonderful business. Here every piece of machinery is made to Mr Gibbons' own designs, and all run by electric motive power. Let me give you an instance of how quickly things can be done in the way of animated picture photography. Mr H. E. Moss and Mr Frank Allen, of Moss's Empires, Limited, and the London Hippodrome, came to inspect the new premises. They were taken to the studio on the roof, had their photographs taken during an animated discussion, and in seven minutes they were inspecting the developed negative. "This," remarks Mr Gibbons, "is about as expeditious as is possible; instead of being done tediously by half-a-dozen different hands, it was done by one, and, with the aid of my electrical installation, was finished in a few minutes. At no other place in England is this accomplished." It is interesting to note that Mr Gibbons does not confine his operations to England. He has three persons in Africa taking war pictures, one leaving there in about two weeks' time for an extended tour round the world in search of subjects ; at least a dozen at the same business all over England, while his exhibitions of animated photography are to be found at the Cape, in Australia, and all over the Continent. Most of his representatives are supplied with complete photographic outfits, so the enormous expense of having to send out specially at different periods is obviated by the splendid collection of pictures which are obtained time after time by those on the spot.
Mr Gibbons smiles with pride as he tells us he is about to turn his business into a limited company, consisting of music hall proprietors and managers. His business is a prosperous one, and he is of opinion that it is the manager or proprietor who should have the control of it, tending, as it does, to cement their interests; they are undoubtedly the best judges of what their audiences require in the way of pictures and amusement. Mr Gibbons has other and very important inventions pending in this particular business, so we may look forward-to something surprising in the near future. By the way, we are soon to see this able gentleman in quite a new light. He has written, and will shortly publish, a booklet on the pros and cons of animated photography. Hence we may expect to see some curious facts, to say nothing of the explosion of many modern fallacies.

The Era, Londres, samedi 20 octobre 1900, p. 22.

The Showman y va de son propre article : 

Walter Gibbons.
IN a remarkably short space of time Mr. Walter Gibbons has reached the top of the tree as a cinematograph showman, and for this reason I marked him down for an interview. My readers, I felt sure, would like to know a little about the man who, in less than three years, has attained such an enviable position, and so I set out one fine evening and made a bee line for 60 Chandos Street, Strand. At the address named I found an extensive building of some four storeys, the whole of which was occupied by Mr. Walter Gibbons, or as the name on the facia puts it, " Walter Gibbons, Bio-Tableaux."
An enquiry in the office on the ground floor, a whispered message by telephone to the private office, and I was soon face to face with the very gentleman himself.
" Yes ! my name is Gibbons, and what can I have the pleasure-" This in response to my first query, and my note book now ready I asked permission to put down a few facts for publication in THE SHOWMAN. Mr. Gibbons at once acquiesced and I elicited the following.
gibbons walter 02
A little over two and a half years ago Mr. Gibbons made his first start at the Tivoli, and he readily acknowledged the kindness he received at the hands of Mr. Geo. Adney Payne, the manager. The fact that the American Biograph was making a big show at the Palace, and in comparison all other cinematograph shows were then very insignificant, led Mr. Gibbons to believe that there was an opening for a really first class exhibition of animated pictures on an elaborate scale. He slipped into the opening at once, and the results have more than satisfied his expectations. With sole contracts for Moss' Empires and the London Hippodrome in this country, and contracts with the leading Halls throughout Australia, South Africa, and Germany, Mr. Gibbons may well be proud of his position in the showman world. But the enterprise and determination which accomplished so much in so little time is not likely to suddenly shut down and rest content. It was not such a great surprise to me, therefore, when Mr. Gibbons informed me that he had installed a complete plant for the manufacture of films, and that he was now in a position to supply wholesale dealers and showmen with first rate films of the most attractive subjects. Stepping from the private office I was conducted from floor to floor and shown the machinery and various appliances used in the film factory. Electric motors are employed throughout for driving, perforating, printing, and drying machines, electric fans create the forced draught in the drying room, and electric light is fitted in every room. Every conceivable form of labour-saving contrivance has been adopted, and a very large quantity of cinematograph film is being turned out daily. The manager of the film department told me that their record performance was to print, fix, wash, dry and despatch a film in three minutes over an hour. This was accomplished some time ago when an important record had to be on show within a few hours of the event.
Mr. Gibbons makes a point of giving an entire change of programme every week, consequently with a large number of shows running an enormous stock has to be kept at headquarters, and a perfect system of despatch of new films is equally necessary. It was interesting to hear of little difficulties which had to be surmounted, and one point struck me as being remarkably smart.
Celluloid films which have been kept in a dry stock room for some time were found to be brittle and, in such a state, to give trouble to the operators besides having only a short life. A series of storage cases has consequently been made and fitted with trays, so that all films can be kept over camphor and water. The result is splendid, the films remain perfectly soft and supple for any length of time they may be in stock, and are always nice and fresh when despatched.
A peep out upon the roof to see where the stage and scenery is shortly to be erected for photographing made-up subjects, and we adjourned to the London Hippodrome, arriving just in time to see the cinematograph turn. There was a full house, as usual, and I followed close at the heels of Mr. Gibbons as we dived down below to the special fire-proof box in which the cinematograph is operated. A little pardonable pride was noticeable in Mr. Gibbons as he informed me that the whole of the structure and fittings was the work of his own hands. Certainly the arrangement of switches and resistances is the most complete I had ever come across for projection work, and all the connections and appliances are so to hand that the show goes with a swing. Chinese films and South African war pictures were the great feature, and round after round of applause greeted each subject as it was put on. As I threaded my way back to the precincts of St. Paul's Cathedral, I marvelled at the pace which Mr. Gibbons was climbing the ladder of fortune, and at the quick return which his perseverance was bringing him.

The Showman, Londres, jeudi 1er novembre 1900, p. 15.

Les Phono-Bio-Tableaux et le Royal Randvoll (novembre 1900)

La présentation des "New Bio-Tableaux" au début du mois d'octobre correspond au dépôt d'un brevet pour "improvements in cinematographic apparatus" (Brevet nº GB 18029 du 10 octobre 1900), suivi d'un autre pour "Improvements in apparatus for producing animated effects" (Brevet GB 20818-17 novembre 1900). C'est dès le mois de novembre que Walter Gibbons va mettre en vente son nouvel appareil The Royal Randvoll - utilisant ainsi son adresse télégraphique. Sur sa conception, on ne sait pas grand-chose. En outre, "The Royal Randvoll" et les "phono-bio-tableaux" apparaissent de façon simultanée, ce qui laisse à penser que le premier n'est qu'un nom alternatif au second :

Conspicuous success attended the efforts of Mr. Walter Gibbons in producing at the London Hippodrome on Tuesday living pictures in conjunction with the phonograph. The new turn is a decided novelty. So far Mr. Gibbons has solved the problem of giving animated pictures with vocal accompaniment, so that they work in unison and no doubt time will perfect his method and show us even greater developments. The singing by the American Comedy "Four of Sally in our Alley" was one of the best/ efforts of the Phono-Bio-Tableaux, and it took remarkably well.

The Stage, Londres, jeudi 15 novembre 1900, p. 10.

L'appareil est vite commercialisé et l'on trouve dans la presse des annonces de ce type :

WANTED, Operator, Walter Gibbon's Latest Machine, the Royal Randvoll. Long Engagement to Selected Applicant. Abstainer preferred, Young, and of good Address, and thoroughly Experienced in Lantern Cinématograph work. Stage Age, References, and definite Terms,

The Era, Londres, samedi 17 novembre 1900, p. 29.

Dans la publicité publiée dans The Era trois vues "sonores" sont proposées à la clientèle: The Midnight SunAlgy et Louisiana Loo. D'autres vues sont tournées ultérieurement comme dans le cas de Lambeth Cake Walk avec Alec Hurley ([1901])

gibbons royal randvoll 
The Era, Londres, samedi 29 décembre 1900, p. 31.

Alors que son collaborateur, Charles Rider Noble, est de retour d'Afrique du Sud, le décès de la reine Victoria et les funérailles qui s'ensuivent donnent à Walter Gibbons une occasion unique de reproduire les obsèques de la défunte monarque. Qui de Gibbons ou de Noble est l'auteur de ces vues ? Rien de sûr, même si l'on peut penser que c'est plutôt ce dernier qui est à la manoeuvre:

I have secured the Finest Positions for taking Pictures of our LATE LAMENTED QUEEN'S FUNERAL.
I have increased my Staff of Operators, who will work  from the time the Negative arrives at my Works until Monday Morning without a stop.

The Era, Londres, samedi 2 février 1901, p. 27.

Dès le mois de juin 1901, on annonce les fiançailles de Walter Gibbons avec la fille de George George Adney Payne, figure très connue dans le monde du spectacle britannique:

MR GEORGE ADNEY PAYNE is to congratulated on the engagement of his daughter, Miss Nelly Payne, to Mr Walter Gibbons, whose name is so well known to connection with the celebrated Bio-Tableaux. Mr Gibbons only took the animated picture business about three years ago. His father was the manager of a large firm of iron and nail manufacturers at Wolverhampton, and the mechanical skill acquired by Mr Walter Gibbons in going through a routine of the works proved very valuable to him in constructing his first Cinématograph. Mr Adney Payne will be fortunate in having such an energetic and ingenious son-in-law.

The Era, Londres, samedi 8 juin 1901, p. 18.

 payne george adney
George Adney Payne (Clonmel, 1846-Mount/Ephraim Hotel, Tunbridge Wells, 1907)

Il est possible que le départ de Charles Rider Noble pour le Maroc, explique la petite annonce que fait passer Walter Gibbons en août :

WANTED, Good Cinematograph Photographers; must be First-class.-Apply to WALTER GIBBON'S, 60, Chandos St., Strand, W.C.

The Stage, Londres, mardi 29 août 1901, p. 22.

Propriétaire de salles de spectacle (1901-1912)

La fin de l'année 1901 marque un changement important dans les activités conduites par Walter Gibbons comme l'explique le suivant article :

From Cinematographer to Music-Hall Proprietor" would make an interesting' article if penned by Mr. Walter Gibbons, who has just taken upon himself the responsibility of leasing the Mohawks' Hall, Islington. It is Mr. Gibbons' intention to run a variety show on the two-housesa-night principle, and he will commence operations before Christmas. Appreciating the fact that the Islingtonians want good value for money, the humbler patrons will be given a " tip-up " seat for threepence ; and we wish the "Islington Empire" the very best of luck !

The Showman, Londres, vendredi 29 novembre 1901, p. 177-178.

londres islington empireLondres. Islington. The Empire (c. 1900).

Il est fort probable que son futur mariage avec la fille de George Adney Payne l'ait conduit à réorienter sa carrière profesionnelle. Dans un long article que lui consacre The Era, il écoque et explique ces changements :

It is not often that a fortune lies ready to hand for all who may apply or who have the necessary money and the necessary pluck to adventure in a speculation that from the first seems a certainly. But that most decidedly appears to be the case with the new Empire Music Hall in Upper-Street, Islington, close to the Grand Theatre, and close to Collins' famous house  on the Green, and Mr Walter Gibbons, erstwhile successfully associated with the biograph at the Hippodrome and elsewhere-indeed, at many popular resorts of the seeker after pleasure in the metropolis and outside-is to be congratulated upon his wisdom. He has now deserted the biograph, an intends devoting himself to the management of the Islington Empire. Incidentally we think that it is a pity that there should be such a run on the name Empire, as good wine needs no bush, so a good programme requires no special title.
"It was owing to my running a series of Biograph pictures here last year for three months," says Mr. Walter Gibbons, as we stroll through a number of wide passages and so into the handsome hall, "that I first got the idea of turning the place into a variety theatre. Originally, as you know, the Mohawk Minstrels had the place for many years. In fact, their history dates from the hall, which has borne the name of Motherwell-why I do not know-as well as the Mohawks. Its record would, I fancy, be highly interesting. Of course, in a way, though quite distinct and separate, it is part and parcel of the Agricultural Hall, the entrance to which is next door. We are above the Agricultural now, and the passages leading to different parts of the Hall which we have traversed are sometimes above and sometimes below and on a level. It is, in my opinion, the most wonderfully constructed edifice in London. It is intricate in some respects, and yet it is straightforward and absolutely safe. You see, we occupy so much space that exits abound in every part, and as for queues-you saw as you came in what they are like here. It is a magnificent site, and I intend doing my best to make it the most popular-and shall I say "populace?"-variety theatre in London. We are on the right side of the road, and it is almost impossible to say how many thousands of pedestrians pass the front of the building during the day. Observe, from this window, the stream now, as far as eye can reach. The crowds never cease. If anything, we have more people on the go along the street than in any other thoroughfare in London".
And what Mr. Gibbons says is true. An endless flow of folk from north and south keep up their perambulations-some on business, some on pleasure bent-from morn till night. Honestly, we cannot understand why the hall had not been seized upon before. Places of entertainment feed each other, and it is evident that the close proximity of the Agricultural Hall itself, Collins's, and the Grand Theatre is of inestimable value, for when entertainments are good and plentiful all in the end prosper. There nothing like competition in the music hall and theatrical world.
At present the hall holds about 3 000 people, but in the summer Mr Gibbons intends to increase the size by lowering the body of the auditorium and the stage, so that at least 4,000 visitors will be able to see the performance quite easily from all parts of the stalls, the pit, and the gallery. The prices are those usually in vogue at the two-houses-a-night theatres, and for the small sum of three pence one is provided with tip-up chair. The dimensions of the building are as follows :—100ft. long by 75ft. broad, with a stage of 40ft, by 22ft., with a beautiful proscenium opening. "I believe we shall do well. When I first came to London," adds Mr Gibbons, “I little thought I should go in for management. Chance is responsible for most things. I remember I used to have to cool my heels, in the beginning, waiting for Mr Adney Payne at the Canterbury, and now!—well, think of it! l am going to marry his daughter, Nellie, quite soon. I shall spend goodly sum in the enlargement of the hall—you see what a fine place it is now—and I shall give the beat variety entertainment I can. I do not know that I shall rely upon * stars ’ with names so much upon talent that I may come across. The world is full of ability of the kind I want, if one only knew exactly where to find it. Comic singers abound, well as artistes of a large and varied style, and these latter are, naturally, what I desire to secure. We can’t all pay the extraordinary sums that some-that was unintentional—performers demand, and get, and my intention is, by judicious selection to get good singers, dancers, acrobats, and so on by keeping my eyes open.
It is quite palpable that, we walk and talk, Mr Gibbons does keep his eyes open—and open very wide, too—and his genial, though quiet, watchful manner suggests bright career and prosperous one. And so in saying good-bye—or, rather, au revoir—to the plucky manager of the Islington Empire, we wish him most sincerely all happiness in his new career and in his married life.

The Era, Londres, samedi 11 janvier 1902, p. 21.

Peu après la publication de cet article, le 29 janvier 1902, Walter Gibbons épouse la riche héritière, Nellie Payne. Le mariage est un véritable événement mondain qui réunit de nombreuses personnalités et dont la presse se fait très largement l'écho.

gibbons payne
Mariage de Walter Gibbons et de Nellie Payne. (Revue non identifiée)

Le périodique  Music Hall and Theatre Review va même consacrer à ces noces deux pages avec les portraits des principaux acteurs. En mars 1903, il devient propriétaire du music-hall "The Duchess" dans le quartier de Balham :

The Duchess, Balham, will open a high-class variety theatre on Monday next, the entertainment being given on the twice nightly plan. Mr Walter Gibbons, the managing director, has an astute counsellor his father-in-law, Mr George Adney Payne, and he has already won his spurs as a caterer for the masses at the Islington Empire, which he has carried on with astonishing success. Mr Jack Munro, who is Mr Gibbons’s manager, was at one time member of the late Tom White’s Arabs, and has been associated with variety from his youth up. He has had a wide experience, and became manager for Mr B. P. Lucas and Mr Harry Day at the Bedford, when that house started on the now popular two-houses-a-night plan.

The Era, Londres, samedi 14 mars 1903, p. 22.

Il est également propriétaire (1903) du Brixton Empress (Londres). Au fil des ans, Walter Gibbons va ainsi construire un véritable empire dans le monde du music-hall : The Holborn Empire (anciennement The Royal Theatre of Varieties, Holborn) (janvier 1906), Willesden (juillet 1906), Brixton Hippodrome (1906)... Au début de l'année 1907, un conflit va l'opposer à la Fédération des Artistes de Music-Hall (The Variety Artistes' Federation) :

The National Alliance, which consists of the Musicians' and Stage Operatives’ Unions and the Variety Artistes' Federation, have taken up the existing dispute between the Variety Artistes’ Federation and Mr. Walter Gibbons, who controls half a dozen London suburban music-halls. The trouble was originally concerned with questions of extra matinees and commissions to managers. The Alliance sanctioned tho withdrawal of various artistes from the arrangements they had made with certain music-hall proprietors, and as a result the performances at several London halls had abandoned, while in other cases a *scratch” performance had to submitted. The instructions to withdraw have been generally followed by members of the Federation, so that a general strike has practically taken place.

Belfast Telegraphe, Belfast, mercredi 23 janvier 1907, p. 6.

Le conflit s'envenime et la presse, au début du mois de février parle de "The Music-Hall War" comme le fait The Sphere du 2 février du 2 février

gibbons walter adney payne 1907
Mr. Walter Gibbons and his father-in-law, Mr. Adney Payne, who controls the syndicate halls. (Campbell & Gray)
The Sphere, Londres, samedi 2 février 1907, p. 93.

Au bout de trois semaines, les différends commencent à se résoudre. Quant à Walter Gibbons, il voue une passion pour l'automobile qui le conduit à fonder l'Automobile Association

gibbons walter 1907 automobile
The Bustander, mercredi 20 mars 1907, p. 48.

En outre, Walter Gibbons est le nouveau propriétaire du Putney Hippodrome (1907). En mai 1907, son beau-père Adney Payne est victime d'un accident de la motocyclette conduite par son épouse. Music Hall and Theatre Review  consacre une longue nécrologie à Adney Payne. Il poursuit ses activités jusqu'à la réalisation de l'une des salles les plus vastes de Londres et peut-être d'Europe, le Palladium :

The Palladium.
Mr. Walter Gibbons. who accomplished so many marvels in the music hall world, saw in the week the realisation of his most ambitious dream in the opening of the Palladium, the great Palladium, the great palace of pleasure erected on the site of Hengler's old circus.
Superbly appointed, and with the greatest seating capacity of any place of its kind, it starts well.

Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, Londres, samedi 1er janvier 1911, p. 16.

De façon pesque simultanée, Walter Gibbons voit disparaître son épouse Nellie, le 1er janvier 1911. Dans les mois qui suivent, il va s'éloigner du monde du music-hall avant d'épouser Doris Lee:

Marriage of Mr. Walter Gibbons.
Mr. Walter Gibbons, the late managing director of the London Theatres of Varieties and the Palladium, married on Monday morning Miss Doris Lee, a daughter of Charles Edward Lee, Esq., J.P., at St. Gregory's Church, Welford, near Newbury, Berks. Miss Lee is an accomplished girl, still in her teens. The honeymoon will be spent in a tour of the world.

Music Hall and Theatre Review, Londres, jeudi 4 juillet 1912, p. 426.

Sa vie personnelle semble avoir, une fois encore, décidé de ses nouveaux choix professionnel. 

Et après... (1913-1933)

Par la suite, il s'éloigne de ses affaires artistiques pour s'intéresser, en particulier, à l'automobile dont il est un des promotteurs au sein de l'Automobile Association and Motor Union. Au cours de la seconde guerre mondiale, il est chargé de présenter au président Poincaré les ambulances automobiles britanniques installées dans la cour des Invalides.

gibbons walter 1915 excelsiorExcelsior, Paris, 21 juillet 1915, p. 1.

Après la guerre, dans les années 1920, il tente un retour aux affaires du music-hall apparemment sans trop de succès. Il décède en octobre 1933. Le Daily Mirror lui consacre une longue nécrologie.


Il reste difficile d'établir une filmographie précise de Walter Gibbons, mais on sait qu'il a effectivement tourné des vues animées en Grande-Bretagne. La liste qui suit reste donc sujette à caution.


[The Funeral of H.M. Queen Victoria] (2 février)

[Open Parliament in State] (14 février)

[T.R.H. The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall in H.MS. Ophir]

[Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race] (28 mars)

MESSRS. THE WARWICK TRADING Co. send us particulars of their films of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, and also of the Grand National. The chief boat-race pictures are " The Hoods at Putney," " Cambridge crew coming through the water on a motor car, whilst others arrive at the club-house in boats," " The crowd on river bank watching the Cambridge crew embark," " The Cambridge crew removing their sweaters and racing at full speed," " The Oxford crew carrying their boat down to the water and rowing down stream," " The Cambridge crew carrying their boat to the water and embarking for the contest," and " The race." The pictures of the Grand National are : " The horses clearing the water jump," " Grudon passing the judge and entering the paddock," " Horses clearing the fence at Valentine's Brook."
A number of boat-race films have also been secured by Mr. Walter Gibbons, who obtained an excellent position on Saturday on the Hammersmith pier, by permission of the Thames Conservancy and the L.C.C. The film of the boat race proper is about 150 feet in length, and shows the course very well. On Thursday last Mr. Gibbons also obtained a picture of the crews practising. This film shows the men carrying their boat down to the river and launching it, and gives a faithful portrait of each man.

The Showman, Londres, jeudi 4 avril 1901, p. 13.

[Grand Football Match] (between Tottenham Hotspur and Bury in the second round of the English Cup.)

The launch of the Celtic

Cup Tie match (27 avril)

MR. WALTER GIBBONS, always up to date, has secured an excellent photograph of the recent Cup Tie match at the Crystal Palace last Saturday week, which was shown at the London Hippodrome the following Monday. A fine photograph depicting the launch of the Celtic, the largest ship at present afloat, is also exhibited.

The Showman, Londres, vendredi 3 mai 1901, p. 3.

Tally-Ho !

" Tally-Ho !" the great hunting spectacle, was yesterday most successfully cinematographed from start to finish by the Walter Gibbons Bio-Tableaux. It is the first time that such a unique experiment has succeeded. In order to equal the strength of sunlight for the purpose of taking the picture, electric light of half a million candle-power had to be used, which included forty arc lamps of forty ampères each, over 1,000 incandescent lamps, and fifteen lime lights. The picture will be shown at all the provincial halls controlled by Mr. H. E. Moss.

Westminster Gazette, Londres, jeudi 27 juin 1901, p. 12.


RECENTLY we made reference to the Hippodrome spectacle " Tally Ho " being successfully cinematographed from start to finish by Mr. Walter Gibbons. The film forms a splendid representation of this sensational production, and it is nightly being exhibited at the Moss and Thornton halls all over the country. We learn that nothing would induce Mr. Gibbons to attempt to obtain such another pictorial record, since the powerful arc lights affected his eyes to such an extent that he was obliged to remain in a darkened room for two or three days afterwards. One of his assistants completely lost his eyesight for some seven or eight hours, and several others who were present suffered very considerably. Several performers taking part in " Tally Ho" were also affected by the tremendous light to such a degree that it was with difficulty that they were able to get through their performance at the evening show.

The Showman, Londres, vendredi 26 juillet 1901, p. 3.

(Le spectacle a lieu à l'Hippodrome).

The Landing of a Shark

A new cinematograph film of a decidedly refreshing nature at the present season, when our office thermometer has absolutely refused to register another degree of heat, has just been produced by Mr. Walter Gibbons, entitled "The Landing of a Shark." The picture of the water is very realistic, and the struggles of the shark produce terrific excitement which increases until the great fish is landed.

The Showman, Londres, vendredi 19 juillet 1901, p. 3.


Les occurrences de la présence des "bio-tableaux" ou "phono-bio-tableaux" n'impliquent pas la présence effective de Walter Gibbons.

<16->17/02/1900 Grande-Bretagne Leicester Empire Bio-tableaux  
<13</02/1900 Grande-Bretagne Cardiff Empire Bio-tableaux  
<20>/02/1900 Grande-Bretagne Swansea Empire Bio-tableaux  
<29>/03/1900 Grande-Bretagne Leeds Empire Bio-tableaux  
<31>/03/1900 Grande-Bretagne Leicester Empire Bio-tableaux  
<07->13/04/1900 Grande-Bretagne Londres New-cross Empire Bio-tableaux  
16/04/1900 Grande-Bretagne Londres People's Palace Royal Biorama  
21/04.04/05/1900 Grande-Bretagne Londres Hippodrome Bio-tableaux  
23/04/1900 Grande-Bretagne Londres People's Palace Bio-tableaux  
<27>/04/1900 Grande-Bretagne Blackpool Alhambra war pictures  
<01>/05/1900 Grande-Bretagne Londres The Empire Bio-tableaux  
<12>/05/1900 Grande-Bretagne Leicester Empire Bio-tableaux  
21-23.28-30/05/1900 Grande-Bretagne Ryde Theatre Royal Bio-tableaux  
<01>/06/1900 Grande-Bretagne Guilford Borough Hall Bio-tableaux  
<18/08/1900 Grande-Bretagne Bexhill-on-Sea Theatre Royal Bio-tableaux  
[22]/12/1900->07/06/1901 Grande-Bretagne Londres Metropolitan Bio-tableaux  
<15>/02/1901 Grande-Bretagne Birmingham Empire Palace Phono Bio-Tableaux  
<19->22/02/1901 Grande-Bretagne Glasgow The Empire Palace Theatre  Bio-Tableaux  
<26>/02/1901 Grande-Bretagne North Shields Howard Halls Royal Randvoll Arthur Jefferson
<01>/03/1901 Grande-Bretagne Londres New Cross Empire Bio-Tableaux  
<08>/03/1901 Grande-Bretagne Londres The Granville Bio-Tableaux  
22/04-03/05/1901 Grande-Bretagne Newcastle Olympia Phono Bio-Tableaux  
<3>/05/1901 Grande-Bretagne Nottingham Empire Bio-Tableaux  
20-25/05/1901 Grande-Bretagne Kirkcaldy Adam Smith Hall Phono Bio-Tableaux  
27/05-07/06/1901 Grande-Bretagne Dundee Kinnaird Hall Phono Bio-Tableaux  
29/05-[19]/06/1901 Grande-Bretagne North Shields Theatre Royal Living Pictures Arthur Jefferson
10->10/06/1901 Grande-Bretagne Gloucester The Victoria Rooms Phono Bio-Tableaux  
104->17/06/1901 Grande-Bretagne Blyth Theatre Royal,  Bio-Tableaux Arthur Jefferson
<06>/07/1901 Grande-Bretagne Saint Helens Town Hall Phono Bio-Tableaux  
<06>/07/1901 Grande-Bretagne Londres Longton/Queen's Theatre,  Bio-Tableaux  
<12>/09/1901 Grande-Bretagne Canterbury Theatre of Varieties, Bio-Tableaux  
06/10/1901 Grande-Bretagne Hebburn Theatre Royal Bio-Tableaux