William HAGGAR

(Dedham, 1851-Aberdare,1925)

haggar william

Jean-Claude SEGUIN


Mary, Elizabeth Haggar. Descendance:

  • Arthur William Haggar (Dedham, 10/03/1851-Aberdare, 04/02/1925)
    • épouse (Fakenham, 31/03/1871) Sarah Sarah Elizabeth Walton (Eccleshill, 10/1852-Carmarthenshire, 21/08/1909). Descendance:
        • Arthur William Haggar-Silverton (1872-1935)
        • Frederick Charles Haggar (1873-1913)
        • George Haggar (1875-1879)
        • Ellen Elizabeth Haggar (1877-1890)
        • James Richard Haggar-Silverton (1879-1915)
        • Walter H. Haggar (Burnley, 26/11/1880-Alderholt, 15/09/1953)
        • Archibald Haggar (1882-1895)
        • Rose Haggar (1885-1967)
        • Violet Alice Yorke (1887-1979)
        • Henry Percy Haggar (1889-1945)
        • Lily May Haggar (1891-1973)


William Haggar mène une vie de forain dès les années 1870 avec une troupe de comédiens ambulants, la Goree's Portable Theatre Company. En 1871, il épouse la fille d'un directeur de théâtre Richard Walton. On le retrouve par la suite, menuisier et peintre pour une nouvelle compagnie où il entame également une carrière d'acteur comique. C'est vers le milieu des années 1880 qu'il fonde sa propre compagnie dont on trouve des traces dans la presse à partir de 1886.

La découverte du cinématographe (1897-1898)

Grâce aux souvenirs de son fils Walter Haggar, reproduits en partie dans l'ouvrage de Peter Yorke, que nous connaissons les premiers contacts de son père avec le cinématographe. C'est à travers un organe de presse que William Haggar va s'intéresser à la nouvelle invention :

It was September 1897, at the Market Place in Aberavon. My father was a subscriber to a photographic periodical called 'Focus'. In this there were several technical articles dealing with animated photography, and its use and application for various purposes including entertainment. One day while reading this publication, Mr. Haggar saw an advertisement for the sale of a Cinematograph and Triunial Lantern, including the gas cylinders, regulators, gauges, lantern slides, films, etc., the whole for £80. Away went Mr. Haggar to Exeter, and came back with the outfit, all agog with excitement and very nearly broke, because £80 in those days was a lot of money - and it was a cash transaction paid in gold. The most important thing in this equipment was the instruction book. I would like to point out that my father was an actor with a portable theatre, who had never seen or handled a gas cylinder. The light used to project films in those days was limelight. This comprised two gases, oxygen and was limelight. This comprised two gases, oxygen and hydrogen, under pressure in their cylinders, impinging on the lime (the lime being a cone about the size of a cotton reel), the result being a brilliant white light known as limelight. This of course went out of fashion years ago.
My father arrived from Exeter with the new equipment, and with the aid of my brother, Mr. James Haggar, erected it on the stage behind the backdrop. They patted it and fondled it, and then had to take it down and put it back in its cases as it was time for opening the theatre. Repeat process next day, having another look at it. On the third or fourth day, with the aid of the very important instruction book, they pursued a little further. 'What did the instruction book say?' (Father). 'First turn on the hydrogen - the red tab.' 'Have you got the cylinder key?' 'Here it is, Dad. ''Right, turn on the hydrogen - red cylinder. Have you got the instruction book, what is next?' 'Light the hydrogen on a low gas.' 'Got a match?' 'No, Dad.' Out went Jim for a match. Ali this time the lantern which houses the limelight is filling with that highly combustible gas, hydrogen. When Jim finally arrived back with the matches, they applied one to this miniature bomb, result 'bang' and panic. Shouts of 'Shut off the cylinders'. Palpitating hearts, utter darkness, then, 'What did you do?' 'Nothing, I only struck a match!' said Jim.
However, they were not daunted by their two panics, although they were getting very much afraid by now; but like good troupers (and having paid £80 for the outfit) there was nothing left but to get on with it. So rehearsal number 3 took place. This time they took the precaution of warming the gas pipes to ensure that they did not blow under pressure: it was getting obvious that these gases were under pressure and had to be controlled. Very well, out came the inevitable instruction book at the same page. They turned on the hydrogen gently, lit it, let it warm up the lime, and then gently lit the oxygen. After gases, got a good light, and projected it onto a screen.
This took them nearly a fortnight. They were quite elated to get a good light, even going so far as to turn the cinematograph handle to see the thing flicker. After weeks of experimenting with the aid of the instruction book, and a great deal of perseverance, they were able to run a film. Included in the outfit from Exeter were 13 or 14 films of varying lengths - 50 ft., 75 ft., and the longest being 100 feet. There were no spools, no reels, just a naked film, running at one foot per second. We had The turn-out of the London Fire Brigade, A Boxing Match, Loïe Fuller dancing, Train emerging from a tunnel, etc. I remember one gentleman saying to my father, 'All you need to complete your collection off films is a rough sea.' Try to visualise, whoever reads this, that in those days acted films were never thought of: one had an animated picture camera, and anything that was animated was the subject of a film.
We were progressing, getting more experience, and we were now confident enough to invite the local doctor, the vicar, and one or two friends to a private exhibition of our latest acquisition of the entertainment world, the cinematograph. operated the projector and showed All Hell!- and was at once reprimanded and told to use a better one, the Vicar was present. A first class show was given, and compliments from all were received.

YORKE, 2007: 30-32.

Ces premières expériences positives marquent un changement complet dans les activités de William Haggar. Il va désormais se consacrer à l'exploitation du cinématographe et inaugure une nouvelle baraque, The Windsor Castle Biograph, semble-t-il, le 5 avril 1898, à Aberavon. C'est ainsi que son fils Walter évoque avec émotion ces premières séances :

We put it upon our allotted site and had a busy time erecting this wonderful cinematograph. The lighting of this tent, or auditorium, was by acetylene gas, produced from a mixture of carbide and water, the generator for which was in the operating box. While the lights in the auditorium were on, the gas generator functioned very well, but when the lights were extinguished at the start of the show, the damn thing kept making gas, no provision having been thought of for this contingency. My father and brother Jim, who were operating, were in a canvas operating box with the acetylene gas generator giving off its superfluous fumes, the two high powered hydrogen and oxygen cylinders for the limelight, and a linen bag full of inflammable film - and they escaped unhurt! Needless to say, the acetylene generator was hastily discarded in favour of the old fashioned naphtha lamps which were so very essential on the fairground in those days.
At the first public performance the little show was packed with between 250 and 300 people. Naturally, my father, being the chief operator, was extremely nervous, and anxious that it should go well. We had a lecturer to describe the seven short films, on subjects such as the turn-out of a fire brigade, and so on; and there would be an interval between each to fit up the next one. Unfortunately, after a short time, so hot, so anxious was Father, as he bent over and peered at his machine, to make sure the film was threaded correctly, that the perspiration from his manly brow steamed the lenses fore and aft, and he could not get even a glimmer of light on the screen. In despair, he spoke to the lecturer: 'For God'sake say something!' The lecturer looked at the blank screen and said, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, if you could see this picture, it would be a train emerging from a tunnel!' This unhappy state of affairs continued for the first two performances, by which time the heat from the projecting light overcame the mist on the lenses - so the last three performances were quite good.

YORKE, 2007: 49-50.

Le premier témoignage dans la presse date du mois de juillet, à l'occasion de projections réalisées à Gloucester. En outre, il est en contact avec Charles Urban, à la suite de l'incendie de sa baraque :

We were also first in designing and supplying a coloured poster for general use and one single sheet poster for the Bioscope in particular. One day 'Rosie' called me into the general office to meet a Mr. W. Haggar as he introduced himself. His head was bandaged and he looked otherwise knocked about. He explained that he had [had] an accident to his show tent and elaborate 'front' which were entirely consumed by fire. I felt sorry for him and called to mind a similar episode with William Rock in America. He said he was attracted by the poster we had displayed outside and offered to buy one. I asked him what he was going to do for a machine and a new assortment of films. He thought that as Messrs. John Wrench and Sons of Gray's Inn Road had sold him the outfit he had lost they would most likely sell him another outfit on credit.
I invited him into our little theatre and gave him a display of the Bioscope and some of the latest and best films. He said he never witnessed as good a show anywhere and would like one of our machines, but he had no cash. Nor could he get the selection of films anywhere which we were able to offer. He had established a regular circuit throughout North Wales and was very well known by all the regular showmen. I proposed to fit him up with the best our firm could procure, so as to enable him to give a better show than any of his many competitors. His eyes fairly bulged from his head with William Haggar excitement and he promised to pay by instalments out of his first profits. It was a risk, but the man struck me as being honest. I was not mistaken. Within three months he had paid back his account in full, besides buying lots of new films and posters. He certainly 'set the pace' amongst showmen. Not merely in North Wales, but throughout England and Scotland we did business with all the principal showmen, who remained our loyal friends for many years. W. Haggar proved a good risk as an 'investment'.

URB, 1999: 52-53.

The Royal Electric (1901-1905)

Dès les premiers mois de 1901, William Haggar va inaugurer un nouveau pavillon, le "Haggar's Royal Electric Bioscope". Un des toutes premières présentations a lieu, en mars, dans la ville d'Aberdare. Il fait également passer une annonce pour vendre son ancien cinématographe Wrench :

Grand Cinematograph. New. Splendid machine, will sell, cheap. Also large number Films, including 500 feet of Queen's Funeral (am overstocked.) W. Haggar, Electric Bioscope, Aberdare, Wales.

The Showman, Londres, vendredi 15 mars 1901, p. 23.

haggar william royal electricLe Royal Electric de William Haggar [DP]

Quelques mois plus tard, William Haggar publie une nouvelle annonce pour la vente, cette fois-ci, d'un bioscope:

FOR SALE.—NEW BIOSCOPE, Latest Model, with all up-to-date improvements. Fine machine, giving absolutely perfect results ; also Arc Lamp and Resistance. New, all sold bargains. Apply Haggar, Royal Bioscope, Pentre, S. Wales.

The Showman, Londres, vendredi 6 décembre 1901, p .15.

Comme cela est très fréquent à cette époque, les projections cinématographiques sont accompagnées par des musiciens ou, dans le cas présent, d'un pianiste à la recherche duquel est William Haggar :

WANTED. Pianist to travel with a Bioscope Exhibition.-Apply to W. HAGGAR, bioscope, Mountain Ash. Wales.

The Stage, Londres, jeudi 22 octobre 1902, p. 20.

La presse évoque parfois le répertoire du bioscope :

HAGGAR'S Royel Electric Bioscope, which is touring Walles, has, among a fine collection of film subjects, "The Rise and Fall of Napoleon." "The Unseen World," "The Wonder of the Deep," "A Desperate Affray with Poachedrs," "Alice in Wonderland," and a numbre of comic pictures.

Music Hall and Theatre Review, Londres, vendredi 6 novembre 1903, p. 301.

A nouveau, en janvier 1906, Walter Haggar met en vente plusieurs bioscopes:

WANTED to Sell,
Several Bioscope Machines,
A Taking Camera,
and about 12,000 ft. of
capital Film Subjects.
All to be had at bargain prices.
Bioscope, Aberdare.

The Stage, Londres, jeudi 4 janvier 1906, p. 26.


YORKE Peter, William Haggar. Fairground Film Maker. Biography of a pioneer of the cinema, Accent Press, 2007, 216 p.



<98>/07/1898 Grande-Bretagne Gloucester Wildman's Ground Windsor Castle Biograph
<10>/02/1900 Grande-Bretagne Llanelly Athenaeum Hall Bioscope
<18>/10/1900 Grande-Bretagne Aberdare Market Place Bioscope
<01->08//02/1901 Grande-Bretagne Tonypandy   Bioscope
07->07/03/1901 Grande-Bretagne Aberdare   Bioscope 
<09>/08/1901 Grande-Bretagne Swansea   Bioscope 
<16>/08/1901 Grande-Bretagne Briton Ferry Villiers Ground Bioscope 
21/11/1901 Grande-Bretagne Ton Pentre   Bioscope 
<06>/12/1901 Grande-Bretagne Ystrad   Bioscope
<20>/12/1901 Grande-Bretagne Tonypandy   Bioscope
<04>/04/1902 Grande-Bretagne Mountain Ash   Bioscope
<19>/04/1902 Grande-Bretagne Aberdare   Bioscope
19/05/1902 Grande-Bretagne Pontypool   Bioscope
20/06/1903 Grande-Bretagne Ferndale   Bioscope
<08/10/1904 Grande-Bretagne Llanelly   Bioscope
<27>/04/1905 Grande-Bretagne Mountain Ash   Biograph
08/06/1905 Grande-Bretagne Llanelly   Bioscope
25-26/08/1905 Grande-Bretagne Llanelly Stradey Park Bioscope
26->26/05/1906 Grande-Bretagne Llanelly   Bioscope
05->05/06/1906 Grande-Bretagne Carmarthen Corporation Pleasure Fair-ground Bioscope
13->13/08/1906 Grande-Bretagne Carmarthen Corporation Fair Ground Bioscope
<06>/10/1906 Grande-Bretagne Pontardawe   Bioscope