There would have been no films without the film factories making cinema’s recording media and other equipment. Kodak’s factory near to Headstone Lane station was the first that the company built outside Rochester, New York. At the height of its output in the 1950s, Kodak employed 6000 people at its Harrow facility. Filmed almost 20 years after it opened, this example of the “factory gate” short provides a glimpse into a completely new phenomenon at the time for human beings: seeing normal life as it was experienced by working people, who – since it’s a century later – we can’t meet or interact with.
Kodak and cinema have left a deep imprint on surrounding North Harrow. 14th Century Headstone Manor has some Kodak material in its museum. London Screen Archives features a large number of amateur films shot around Harrow and Pinner. This includes a 1964 newsreel which records the demolition of the Embassy Cinema, 354 Pinner Road HA2 6DZ, which had been opened in 1928 by the actor Betty Balfour.
At 4:28 the narrator tells us it’s to make way for a supermarket and a bowling alley, presaging the lyrics of The Kinks’ ‘Come Dancing‘… (Ray Davies grew up in Fortis Green, Haringey, not all that far from Headstone Lane…)
‘They put a parking lot on a piece of land
When the supermarket used to stand
Before that they put up a bowling alley
On the site that used to be the local pally’
The late Barry Cryer, who lived in Pinner, called the eponymous stately home in ‘Bloodbath at the House of Death‘ “Headstone Manor” in the script that he co-wrote for the 1984 film. In fact, the building standing in for it is Northaw Place, a Grade II listed former school in Hertfordshire. The Kenny Everett and Vincent Price-starrer marks perhaps the nadir of Price’s horror films made in London, though 1981’s ‘The Monster Club‘ gives it stiff competition. It’s got B A Robertson in (“you know, for kids!) rather than Kenny Everett. Bizarrely, Kenny “let’s bomb Russia” Everett turns out to have been one of the least weird Radio One deejays. As much as it’s a pastiche of “house that dripped blood” horror films of the period, In light of the allegations of Jimmy Saville’s interest in hypnotism and the occult, the film’s depiction of various light entertainment stalwarts engaged in Satanic blood sacrifices in leafy Harrow could well have been drawn from contemporary showbiz folklore.