St. James Street – A Message From Mars (1913)

A Message From Mars (1913) | St. James Street

The first full-length Science Fiction film made in the UK, somewhat like ‘Aelita: Queen of Mars‘ meets ‘A Christmas Carol‘. At one point the fire brigade are summoned from nearby 116 High Street, Walthamstow, London E17.

116 High Street, Walthamstow, London E17, A Message From Mars

Watch ‘A Message From Mars’ for free on the BFI player.

St James Street was ear-marked for regeneration prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the pedestrianized area restored and a website launched emphasizing its bespoke coffee emporia. However, by September 2022, with the cost of living impact of the pandemic, Brexit and the war in Ukraine pushing energy and food prices up, one flagship coffee outlet, St J’s, was unexpectedly shuttered by its owners and the staff were suddenly out of work. Most of St James street remains shabby, unloved but has hung on through tough times and has shops on it that sell useful things like mobile phone accessories.

Council plans for other efforts at regeneration, such as the new lido planned for Lower Hall field, have only generated public opposition due to the 12 minute walk from St James station. The field was involved in an earlier dispute with the Secret Cinema organisation when they wanted to stage a ‘Dirty Dancing’ film event in the midst of the pandemic, with tickets starting at £53.

Twice in the last century or so, cinema and the trappings of social aspiration – the music hall, dancing, continental leisure pursuits, gaiety – have promised the citizens of Walthamstow a better future than the one their parents had. Twice, that future has evaporated like steam from a shiny and expensive coffee machine.