Huthwaite was introduced to big screen entertainment well over a hundred years ago. Promoters of those early Lantern Slide Shows came from Stonebroom, and led by that success, a Manchester couple named Brown went on to set up the first Hucknall Huthwaite picture house on Main Street recalling the "Old Gem".
The property itself was built 1856 by members forming the Free Methodist Church. They went on to lay 1884 foundations for a larger chapel upon Sherwood Street. It was in their vacated Main Street Chapel where room enough for an audience was found to begin hosting what was fully titled The Gem Picture House.
British inventors would help roll the way forward into later full length movies projected onto modern cinema silver screens. Back in 1890 came patented use of celluloid film. One of the first recognised British films shot by 35mm camera revealed "Incident at Clovelly Cottage" in February 1895. Kinemacolor was a system devised 1908, although like American film makers in that silent era, exposure remained in black and white.
There were very few clues to only vaguely suggest when Huthwaite folk began witnessing some of those earliest innovations. Memories passed down generations simply describe a box office entrance formed by a table holding two biscuit tins or coin basins, where a Mrs Brown took charge of takings. Her husband performed dual roles, mainly as projectionist but, if necessary a bouncer. A brief historical account also notes how special effects were rendered on piano by Elias Stendall, a New Hucknall colliery worker.
Recent findings can now however, provide year 1913, when Mr Priestley Brown submitted proposals for an engine and dynamo shed in connection with this Main Street Picture House. This is not only rather later than generally supposed, but also good indication how they did at least intend to light up their silver screen using modern advancements in electric power.
Mr and Mrs Brown certainly shared the novelty of showing some of the earliest moving pictures on the silver screen in the Gem House. However, it only proved a short term venture. and even lesser so when next taken over by seven actors staging a live theatre in the retitled Kosy Korner.
The past property stood between entrances into Pilsworth Yard and Club Yard became lastly adopted as a motor garage. All were likewise demolished from 1955. Unfortunately not found photographed before siting these semi detached houses below corner of Swanson Avenue, upon that old historic site fronting Main Street.
After seeing out initial novelty of moving pictures, the birth of a new entertainment industry was still only in its infancy. Just a few years after the Gem House came proposals for erecting a modern Huthwaite cinema. Plans submitted in 1916 by a Mr M Howard suggest a Sutton Road site cornering Beech Avenue.
The Great War may well have interrupted any building plans. But before gathering live footage documenting the shocking reality seen through a second world war, childhood memories can still fondly recall their Saturday afternoon treat watching American Western fights between good and evil, shown at the Huthwaite Lyric.
Written 03 May 13 Revised 04 Jun 13 © by Gary Elliott