Film raises funds for Preston North End!

The financial woes of North End are rarely out of the headlines these days, but it would seem that the much loved Preston club has regularly enlisted the support of the community and local businessmen to ease its troubles, including Will Onda who became a club director in the 1920s.

While looking into the early history of Preston North End today at the National Football Museum I made a surprising film discovery in the back of an old souvenir programme from 1903. The curious booklet recorded a fundraising event held to raise funds for Preston North End which was at the time struggling to repeat its early league successes.

The event which was termed a ‘bazaar’ had few details of exactly what was on offer but I assume it had second-hand goods, crafts and other items donated to raise money for the club. What excited me was the fabulous advert for ‘Cinematograph Entertainments and Concerts’ which were part of the bazaar! Cinematograph shows or film shows were still a relative novelty in 1903 as permanent dedicated cinemas had yet to be created.

According to the Preston Guardian (thanks to Peter Vickers) the cinematograph was provided by Mr J. Green, this is probably John the brother of showman George Green who operated traveling cinema or bioscope shows at fairgrounds. We don’t know exactly what was shown but I thought I would share with you one of my favourite Mitchell & Kenyon films of Preston North End.

Preston North End versus Wolverhampton Wanderers, 1904 (M&K Collection, BFI)

I love the fact that film was part of a fundraiser for Preston North End. I am not sure how much was raised but it would seem 1903 marked a turning point for the club as they were Division Two Champions in 1903/4! Lets hope 2011 marks a similar turning point in the club’s history.

My talk on the early days of Preston North End looking at the Preston businessmen who shaped the club’s history is at the museum on Wednesday, January 26 from 1pm to 1.30pm. Free, drop in if you can.

About Emma Heslewood

I am a historian and museum curator with broad interests including early topical films, social and industrial history, numismatics, archaeology and WW1. I am an expert on the life and work of the Victorian acrobat and topical film maker - Will Onda.
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