(Londres, 1874-Ruislip, 1953)

hepworth cecil

Jean-Claude SEGUIN


Thomas Cradock Hepworth (Barnard Castle, 12/1844-Clapham Common, 14/06/1905) épouse (West Brompton, 23/04/1872) Sarah Margaret Stevens (Brompton, [1842]-Middlesex, 31/05/1930). Descendance : 

  • Cecil Milton Hepworth (Lewisham, 19/03/1874-Ruislip, 09/02/1953)
    • épouse (Buxton, 11/02/1902) Margaret Hope McGuffie (Manchester, 24/12/1873-1917). Descendance : 
      • Elizabeth Barbara C. Hepworth (Walton-on-Thames, 03/1905-)
      • Blanche Margaret Cecil Hepworth (Walton-on-Thames, 10/01/1907-Camden, 11/1995)
      • Thomas Andrew Cradock Hepworth (Walton-on-Thames, 12/1910-)
    • épouse (Chertsey, 04/1929) Olive Elizabeth Walter (Walton-on-Thames, 14/04/1904-Surrey, 01/1972)
  • Grace Dora "Dorothy" Hepworth (Lewisham, 09/1875-Portsmouth, 06/1968)
  • Effie Mildred Hepworth (Lewisham, 27/11/1876-Portsmouth, 12/1970)
  • Margaret Evelyn Kittie Hepworth (Camden Town, 16/05/1881-Surrey, 03/1976)
  • James Clifford Hepworth (Inverness, 25/07/1881-Seattle, 16/07/1971)
  • Clive Cradock Hepworth (Camden Town, 09/1884-)
  • Olive Cradock Hepworth (St Pancras, 24/05/1885-)


Thomas Cradock Hepworth, le père de Cecil, écrit de nombreux articles scientifiques, en particulier sur la photographie, dont il fait sa passion qu'il va transmettre à son fils :

[...] he was an ardent photographer; one of the early workers of the old wet-place process which you never hear of now expect as a vague memory of the idstant past, but it was one of the fertile places in which the seeds of the modern 'pictures' firt began to germinate.
Watch him at work when I was about three years old. He had an inmense camera which he must have picked up at a sale somewhere.

HEPWORTH, 1951: 9.

Enfant, il voyage fréquemment avec lui et assiste à de  nombreuses conférences dont certaines sur les lanternes magiques, une formation déterminente. Il va d'ailleurs, dès 1895, déposer un brevet pour une lampe à arc :

A NEW ARC LAMP. The extensive use of the optical or magic lantern in the illustration of lectures makes any improvements in its manipulation and lighting of considerable interest. The arc lamp is now displacing to a great extent the oxy-hydrogen light, which was itself a great advance upon the old oil-lamp form. Improvements in the first-named were shows last week at the Camera Club. They have been patented by Mr. Cecil M. Hepworth. and the apparatus is known as the Ross-Hepworth arc lamp. The design is simple and possesses all the means necessary for keeping the light spot central with the lens. The light itself is steady, and the brilliance may be regulated according to requirement as the case may be. The most novel feature is the device by which the arc can be struck instantaneously, and arrangements, we are informed, are being made to test its usefulness in this respect for naval search-light purposes. The experiments made at the Camera Club were very successful. The lamp is manufactured by Messrs. Ross and Co., the well-known opticians in Bond-street.

Evening Mail, Londres, vendredi 4 octobre 1895, p. 3.

Il collabore également dans des revues comme Photographic Times ou The Optical Magic Lantern Journal and photographic Enlarger, Photographic Times ou Scientific American Supplement. Au début de l'année 1897, il ouvre également une agence d'appareils photographiques :

Mr. Cecil M. Hepworth.—Within the past few weeks Mr. Cecil M. Hepworth has opened new premises at 22, Cecil Court, Charing Cross Road, W., as an agency for the photographic apparatus of the Albion Albumenising Company ; for Verel & Co.'s Cathcart and Matchless plates and paper; he has also arranged for demonstrating his own arc lamp at work in the lantern.

The Optical Magic Lantern Journal and Photographic Enlarger, vol. 8, nº 95, avril 1897, p. 62.

Son intérêt pour les images animées se manifeste en outre dans un nouveau brevet, déposé en 1897, où il propose un aménagement pour utiliser un kinetoscope pour effectuer des projections. Par ailleurs, il rédige très tôt, l'un des tout premiers ouvrages sur le cinématographe, Animated Photography. L'ouvrage es en vente dès le mois de janvier 1898.

1897 hepworth animated photography 1
 Cecil M. Hepworth, Animated Photography. The ABC of the Cinematograph, Londres, Hazell, Watson & Viney, 1897.

Il est l'un de ceux qui participent à la National Photographic and Allied Trades Exhibition:

National Photographic and Allied Trades Exhibition.—From the 22nd to the 30th inst. this exhibition will be held at Portman Rooms, Baker Street, W., each day from 12 noon to 10 p.m., when some fine exhibits will be on view. Mr. T. C. Hepworth [sic], the well-known and popular lecturer, will provide two entertainments each day ; Mr. C. M. Hepworth is to give a cinematograph entertainment every afternoon and evening, and arrangements have been made with the agents for the Lumiere celebrated films so that the very pick of these will be shown on the screen. In addition to the above attractions some of the makers of machines will give public demonstrations. The charge for admission to the exhibition is to be 1s, which will include admission to any or all of the entertainments. The various railway companies have been approached with a view to arranging cheap trips for the benefit of visitors from all parts of the United Kingdom. Tickets for admission are now ready and can be obtained through any photographic dealer, or direct from the secretary of the exhibition, Arthur C. Brookes, Temple House, Temple Avenue, London, E.C. Secretaries of societies, we are informed, will be supplied at special rates.

The Optical Magic Lantern Journal, vol. 9, nº 107, avril 1898, p. 57.

La brève collaboration avec Charles Urban (1898)

La collaboration entre Cecil M. Hepworth et Charles Urban remonte, au moins, à février 1898, si l'on croit une brève annonce publiée dans le British Journal of Photography :

M. Cecil M. Hepworth, of 22, Cecil-court, Charring Cross-road, writes he is about to take charge of a portion of the animated photograph business of Maguire & Baucus, Limited, at their offices, 5 Warwick-court, High Holborn, W.C., and that about March 12, all his future business will be conducted from that adress.

British Journal of Photography, vol. 45, nº 1973, 25 février 1898, p. 123. 

Sur cette période, nous disposons, par chance, des témoignages respectifs de Cecil M. Hepworth et de Charles Urban. Voici en quels termes ce dernier Urban évoque cette rencontre :

I bought the rights of the Hepworth arc lamp used in the projector and had these further improved.
Hepworth (Cecil) was located in Cecil Court off Charing Cross Road known as 'Flicker Alley' as quite a few film agents had established little shops and offices there. He was dealing in an elliptical cored carbon which his father had invented and which had the merit of keeping the 'crater' of the arc light in a central position, instead of travelling round the circumference of the carbon causing unsteadiness of lighting with shadings of blue and orange tints on the screen. He had advanced photographic knowledge in its various branches and thinking him an advantageous addition to our fast growing staff, he accepted my offer to buy him out and transfer his knowledge and activities to benefit the Warwick company.

URB, 1999: 51.

L'achat du brevet pour la lampe à arc inaugure en quelque sorte les échanges entre les deux hommes. Et peu après, ils vont conjointement déposer un brevet qui constitue une amélioration du bioscope :

After a few months with the company he proposed trying out an idea for developing films. Instead of the usual way of winding the film spirally over a pegged developing frame and immersing it consecutively in the developing tank, the rinsing in another tank before 'fixing' the films in the hypo bath, then the washing tank, after twenty minutes of which it was unwound from its frame onto the rotating drying wheel - his methods were - viz: a series of glass bottom wood troughs, a little wider than the width of the film, arranged so as to permit the film when slipping through a slot in the wall of the printing room - is caught upon a sprocket wheel which engaged the perforations. These sprocket wheels were rotated by motor gear at each end of each tank, thus drawing the film through the developing liquid at any desired speed. The action of this developer on the film was further controlled by insertion of glass rods at intervals. From this first tank, the film was drawn into the next tank directly underneath, when it was washed in cold running water before it was drawn into the hypo tank for finally fixing the image in the photo film. 
The film was drawn through these various tanks at a uniform speed, consistent with the speed at which the printing machine could deliver the film, when the automatic development of the film commenced, supposedly without the aid of the hand, but entirely handled automatically by machinery. In theory, this was fine - but in actual practice, we struck some snags difficult to overcome. For instance, when the film was no longer guided and drawn along by the sprocket wheel, and it dropped into the large washing tank- that's when trouble started. Say it took only six to seven minutes for the film to pass through any of the tanks, which was sufficient time for all the processes. But when it emerged from the fixing tank into the tank for its twenty to twenty-five minutes washing of the hypo in quick running cold water, the film started 'piling up'. You could leave it as long as you liked in this tank but it was likely to become tangled with the sharp edges of the film scratching or injuring the soft gelatine emulsion surface - by drawing it out from the messit was creating in piling up from the fixing tank. We tried various methods, by altering the system but always ran into new trouble, until we finally gave it up.

URB, 1999: 51-52.

Les nombreuses difficultés que rencontrent les deux hommes seraient, pour Charles Urban, l'origine de leur séparation :

We gave Hepworth the outfit when he decided to quit and start again on his own. Here is where the directors made a mistake. I was greatly in favour of carrying on with Mr. Hepworth until we had solved the difficulty, but my board was too impatient for quick returns on investments. At any rate this automatic printing to drying process is now in use everywhere - although much modified - but the credit of the idea occurring first to Cecil Hepworth is due him. He ultimately became a very successful film producer. Coming through the Rye was his best and equal to any in the days of the silent picture.

URB, 1999: 52.

Les mémoires que Cecil M. Hepworth publie sous le titre Came the Dawn permettent de compléter et de nuancer la version de Charles Urban. Hepworth fait remonter sa première collaboration au tournage de la célèbre course Oxford-Cambridge, en mars 1898 :

Maguire & Baucus of Warwick Court, Holbom, were our new masters with Charles Urban as manager. I do not remember meeting Maguire, but Baucus I remember well as one of those urbane and very nice Americans whom you feel you can absolutely trust. The style of the firm was shortly changed to the Warwick Trading Company Ltd., with Charles Urban as managing director. My first job in connection with it was to film the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race of March, 1898, which I did from the top of a factory building giving a long view of the course and consequently a very distant view of the boats. 'Panoraming' the camera was first used a long time later. Then, according to instructions, I proceeded, as the policemen say, to Alfred Wrench's shop at 50, Gray's Inn Road (Lanterns and Accessories), and in the cellar there I developed the negative, using Wrench's primitive outfit. This consisted of a metal frame, carrying a number of upright pins on which the film could be wound spiral-wise-in the dark-room, of course-and subsequently immersed in the developer in a suitable dish and then rinsed and fixed in the same way. So I made my first film ever, and it was the only film of mine ever to be developed in this primitive manner. For with my usual egotism I enunciated the theory that that static method was not the proper way to process a continuous thing like a fifty-foot film. I said it ought to be passed continuously through troughs of the several chemicals in proper order by mechanical means.

HEPWORTH, 1951: 38-39.

Cecil M. Hepworth offre sa version de l'élaboration du brevet qu'il va prendre avec  Charles Urban : 

Then I proceeded to construct a machine according to this plan, using sprocket-wheels and other parts of two or three Edison 'Kinetoscopes' pulled to pieces for the purpose. When the first machine was finished and tested I showed it to Urban and told him I thought it ought to be patented. He agreed and said that he would like his name associated with mine as co-inventor, and that was done.A printer was added in a little while so that the positive stock, in contact with the finished negative, was passed into the machine at one end and came out at the other, finished and ready to be dried. At a much later stage, a drying bank was added and then the process was complete. Printing and developing machines to this pattern and covered by the same patent were in sole use in my laboratories until the end of my film-life. It was not, however, until the advent of talking films, pointing to the importance of continuous processing to do away with the necessity of making joints, that the film trade woke up to the desirability of printing and developing by machinery, and of course, the patent had expired long before that. I was too early. Sometimes the tortoise is also wiser than the hare.

HEPWORTH, 1951: 39.

Il donne ensuite la liste des différents membres de l'équipe tout en égratignant les Américains :

A conspicuous member of the staff was the genial Jew, Joe Rosenthal, who was sent out as special correspondent to South Africa where the storms of war were brewing. He and his sister, Alice, a plump and pleasant lady, and Miss Lena Green, a thin one, were, with Mont and myself, the whole staff below the principals. Between us we developed and printed and listed and sold all the stuff Joe sent home. One way and another there was a lot of work to be done. I nearly always, and Mont very often, stayed on till eleven at night, and Urban and Baucus, being Americans, used to talk till about that time, and then we repaired Americans, used to talk till about that time, and then we repaired to the pub at the corner of the court for a meal.
I came to the conclusion that the idea of American hustle is just an unconscious bluff. They don't work any faster than we do but they talk about it a great deal more. It seemed to me that they talked the whole day long and then worked feverishly for an hour or two in the evening to make up.

HEPWORTH, 1951: 39-40.

Les souvenirs de cette période se terminent par des considérations assez contradictoires. D'une part, il dit combien il a apprécié cette collaboration, mais d'autre part, il ignore les raisons qui ont poussé Charles Urban à le congédier:

I have no regrets about Warwick Court. On the whole I had a very happy time. I was with nice people and doing the sort of work I have always liked; doing it fairly successfully and being fairly paid. True, I had no other actual film to my credit but the one of the boat-race but I had the handling and printing of Joe Rosenthal's work and I picked up a lot of knowledge of the film business. I was the most surprised person you can possibly imagine when, one Monday morning, I found on my desk a short note enclosing a week's wages in lieu of notice and saying that my services were no longer required. Monty Wicks had a similar note.
I saw Urban and pointed out the unfairness of such a sudden action and tried to discover a reason for it. He could give no reason but did agree to allow us two weeks' salary instead of one.Then the question of the patented machine came up and he said he didn't want it, and I could have it and the patent too if I liked to reimburse the company for the patent fees so far incurred. Thus I got the sack from that job.
I have often wondered since what was the reason for that curt dismissal and the only one I can think of is that some time before I had asked for and been given-apparently without grudge-a royalty of a farthing a foot on all good work turned out on the machine. It would be a fairly big charge on modern machines but did not amount to much at that time. Or maybe Urban had been persuaded that the old method was better and cheaper in the end.

HEPWORTH, 1951: 41..

La Hepworth & Co. ([1899]-[1906])

Dès [1899], il fonde la Hepworth Film Mfg. Co. (plus tard connue sous le nom de Hepworth Picture Plays), une société de production cinématographique créée à Londres. À l'occasion de la Volunteer Prize Distribution qui se tient à Halstead (Town Hll), il projette quelques vues animées :

Mr. Cecil M. Hepworth then amused the company with his cinematograph, the pictures including a goodly number of a military character. At the end, Mr. Hepworth's health was drunk.

Suffolk and Essex Free Press, Sudbury, mercredi 14 décembre 1898, p. 6.

Il publie son premier catalogue en novembre 1899. En septembre 1900, apparaît pour la première fois le nom "Hepwix Films" (The Era, 8 septembre 1900, p. 28). 

hepworth 1900
The Showman, Paris, samedi 1er septembre 1900, p. 3.

En juillet 1901, les films Hepwix rentrent au répertoire du Comptoir Général de Cinématographie (Gaumont). Les derniers films produits sous ce nom datent de 1904. Cecil Hepworth dirige et produit de nombreux films comme le montre le suivant article:

This annual event—an occasion which is always looked forward to with pleasure by enthusiastic patrons of the camera, and those having a tendency towards lantern exhibitions—took place in the Exchange Hall on Monday evening, but, in consideration of the exemplary character of the programme, was not successful numerically as the promoters deserved, but this doubtless owing to the fact that the public have been sumptuously catered for in the way of entertainments within the past week. There can no doubt whatever that the events of the previous week militated considerably against anything like full “house,” and it seems a pity that such an interesting entertainment, such as was given to those who were fortunate enough to be present on Monday night, should suffer in consequence. Those who did attend, however, were provided with a very instructive, amusing, and at the same time, interesting, evening. The lantern was very skilfully manipulated by Mr. Cecil M. Hepworth, a lanternist of repute, and some very artistic and entertaining slides were shown, in addition to number of kinematograph pictures. Mr. Hepworth opened the entertainment with a series of kinematograph pictures illustrative of visit to’ a cycle gymkhana, the best of which pictures were perhaps the two depicting a “Cyclists Comic Costume Race” and “Cycle Polo.” Another series of pictures which had been very carefully taken, and which were as carefully and clearly reproduced, were those illustrating a journey up the Thames to Henley Regatta. In the course of the “voyage,” the audience were treated to panoramic views of the Thames, with its grandeur of scenery and stereoscopic effect, which is the characteristic of that part of the river, and upon arrival at Henley, were afforded an opportunity of watching the final race for the Grand Challenge Cup at the Regatta. As a change from the kinematograph pictures, the slides known as “The Amateur Photographer Prize Slides ” were next exhibited, and this collection consisted of slides which had obtained gold, silver, and bronze medals for landscape seascape, figure, architectural, and other subjects open to the world, so that some very fine specimens of photography were shown, light and shade being very finely pronounced, together with skilful atmospheric, cloud, and sunset effects. Other pictures which tended to show the perfection which photography is acquiring, were several depicting a microscopic investigation sections of leaves. The most interesting portion of the entertainment, however, was a long series of scenic pictures representing “A holiday in Devonshire.’’ which had been specially taken by Hepworth from the front of a locomotive engine travelling sixty miles an hour on the London and South-Western Railway. In the course of these pictures, Mr. Hepworth took his audience to different parts of Devon, and having casually dealt with Exeter Cathedral, passed on to the more interesting pictures of the coast of North Devon, the slides representing the Capstone Parade and the rocks at Ilfracombe being especially fine. Other photographs of more than ordinary merit were scenes in Clovelly, its picturesque harbour, the Watermouth Caves, Boscastle. and Plymouth Harbour; while humour was at intervals introduced by means of kinematograph pictures representative of the antics of mischievous bathers and mudlarks in the harbour Boscastle. The audience was subsequently treated to some fine stretches of Devonshire country as it opened out before passing train, and this section of the pictures was received with loud and well-merited applause. The last series of pictures were a number under the title of “British Warships and Scenes in our Navy,” and provided some capital features of interest—contrasting, as they did, “The Wooden Walls of Old England” with the modem battleships, a fine specimen of the latter type of vessel being shown in H.M.S. "Ocean," the largest warship afloat. Other pictures under this head illustrated warships of various types, and the last picture, and one which aroused warm feelings of patriotism. was a kinematograph representation of the departure of the Household Troops for South Africa. The Volunteer String Band, under the conductorship Lance-Sergt. Webb, played appropriate selections of music during the entertainment, and a very enjoyable evening, which would have been even more enjoyable had the Exchange been a little warmer, was brought to a close shortly after ten o'clock.

Banbury AdvertiserThursday 23 November 1899, p. 3.

Hepworth Manufacting Company (1907-1918)

À partie de 1907, c'est le nom "Hepworth Manufacturing Company" qui apparaît dans la presse.

Hepworth Picture Plays (1918-)

À partir de 1918, la société prend le nom de "Hepworth Picture Plays.

hapworth 1919 01 hapworth 1919 02
The Bioscope, Londres, jeudi 10 avril 1919, p. 86-97



HEPWORTH Cecil M. Animated Photography. The ABC of the cinematograph, 1897, 108 p. National Library of Australia. TROVE: https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-750300458/view?partId=nla.obj-750307529

HEPWORTH Cecil, Came the Dawn: Memories of a Film Pioneer, London, Phoenix House, 1951, 208 p.

MCKERNAN Luke, A Yank in Britain. The Lost Memoirs of Charles Urban, The Projection Box, 1999, 96 p.