Entertainment and Public Service – Onda in the 1920s

The 1920s are turning out to have been quite a busy decade for Onda both personally and professionally – but one that had ups as well as downs.

By the time Onda turned 50 in 1929 he had he become a town councillor and a director of Preston North End football club. His work as a theatre and cinema proprietor continued and he made dozens of local films of many events during this decade including the 1922 Preston Guild and numerous Royal visits by Princess Mary. Today I also discovered a great image of him wearing his oval rimmed glasses amongst the portraits of the Guild Aldermen and Councillors from 1922. His face is full of obvious pride.

On the down side I am starting to read about the impact of changes in the film industry and his work with the Provincial Entertainers to stop or change the film bill of 1927 which threatened his livelihood. This issue is touched upon in his interview with Kinematograph weekly in 1926 and meetings of the Provincial Entertainment and Managers Association Limited published in The Stage newspaper. He is deeply concerned by the changes and mourns the decline in quality of films and the change of terms for local exhibitors. I think he saw what was coming for the entertainment industry but at least he could look back at a very successful decade…

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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