Tag Archives: North London

Gaumont: Missing Pieces

One of the sad realities about the Finchley Gaumont is that some of its most striking features have ‘gone missing’ and are no longer available for the public to enjoy. While we were doing our research we stumbled upon a number of leads – some rumours, some from more reliable sources – on the whereabouts of a few items.

The Compton Organ

Firsty, we have to confess that in our exhibition we got one major fact wrong – the current location of the Compton Organ, which accompanied silent films from the opening of the cinema in 1937 until it was removed to make way for the ‘talkies’ in 1967 and sold to a private owner. The organ was installed in a pub in Hertfordshire and we thought that it was still there. However, we were corrected by a knowledgeable member of the public, who attended the exhibition.

According to our source:

“The organ was indeed sold and installed in The Plough, Great Munden, Herts and was in situ there for longer than it was in the cinema and was the only public house in the world to contain such an instrument.

The pub changed hands a couple of times and the penultimate owner did much to promote the organ. However his sudden death lead to its sale to a person who had no interest in the organ and it was removed – being sold to a couple of members of the Cinema Organ Society. It remains in store awaiting a new home.

The Plough has since been demolished and a house now stands on the site.”

The Bas-Relief Panels

At the beginning of our research, we came to understand that the Portland Stone Bas-Relief panels, crafted by Newbury A. Trent, which graced the front of the Gaumont building, had been demolished. However, close observation of the archive photos in sequence suggests that the panels were removed before the demolition.

An artsdepot staff member who keeps his ear to the ground believes that the panels were sold on the black market to a private owner. They are rumoured to be in someone’s back garden in West London. It is also thought that the panels, were made of marble as well as Portland stone.

Brass Lettering

We were delighted to discover that over the years, Barnet Council had preserved some of the large brass lettering, which was used to advertise film listing on the front of the Gaumont. The letters are now being stored by the North Finchley Town Team.

In addition, we discovered that antique sellers, Doe and Hope, in Bedfordshire also sourced a glass circle sign & a cast iron seat end; three Mahogany side chairs and a section of carpet with the Gaumont British Insignia. These were up for sale on the antique seller’s website at the time of writing.

The search continues…

A is for Access – By Researcher/Archivist Olivia Bellas

The Tally Ho! A Place to Meet exhibition finished a couple weeks ago.

As the project has come to an end, reflections about how we worked together, what was successful and what wasn’t, were hugely valuable. On my side of things, what stood out was permissions and access to material when researching or creating new works. We’ve come along away in only ten years. When I first started in production, making TV commercials, we’d have library music on CD’s and write to the agencies to confirm any usage. Now, there is just so much at our fingertips we’re surprised when someone tells us you can only look but not touch – namely, google images.

On the Tally Ho project, we’ve used some great imagery in our exhibition and film from individuals and in particular the Finchley Society Archives. Interesting to note was how we all reacted differently to material used in the real, physicality of an exhibition in an actual venue that would come down after a month. To a film that would sit online – for how long? Perhaps shared on other platforms – where? Could it’s route be traceable – how? I’m no copyright expert but I know that we are all asking these new questions because the old laws don’t apply to the way we live. To the heightened access we now have.

Archives and preservation seem to be on all of our radars these days. If we want to do more than appreciate archival contents and share them in new ways as creatives, we must think carefully. A special consideration when working in the heritage sector. You decide if you’re more of a Napster/Metallica or Open Source kind of person.

Some favourite resources…

British Library have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft releasing them back into the Public Domain.

The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads. Radio has always offered the public free access to new music. The Free Music Archive is a continuation of that purpose, designed for the age of the internet.

Own-it offers intellectual property (IP) advice, information and learning resources for the creative sector.

(Image from British Library archive)

Tally Ho! A Place to Meet Exhibition now open!

The Tally Ho! A Place to Meet exhibition went live 4 October, 2014 as part of artsdepot’s Fun Palace 10th birthday extravaganza. Full of rich and exciting images and stories about Tally Ho corner, the exhibition features a beautiful new visual art commission of the Gaumont Cinema by Jacky Oliver and the launch event included open workshops led by Jacky and pop up performances from our Tally Ho! theatre ensemble.

If you haven’t come to see the exhibtion yet, what are you waiting for? It will be open until 3 November, 2014.

Here are a few pics:

photo 14 photo 12photo 5 photo 3

I look around and imagine (post from filmmaker, Sarah Mace-Dennis)

I arrive at artsdepot excited to meet the young creatives who will collaborate on the development of a new film that tells the story of the Tally Ho: A Place To Meet local heritage project. As I enter the building, I look around and imagine the spaces that were once found at this location. Horses run through my mind toward the Tally Ho Coach Company that may or may not have actually existed; couples and families gather excitedly to see films at the popular Gaumont Cinema; and people wander curiously through the market searching for bargains or rare goods. Walking from the street up to the café, I move through the colourful creative space that is artsdepot today.

Natalka and Gianluca from the youth panel joined me to discuss and map out some possible approaches for creating the film. I am always fascinated to hear more about the things that people see in a good film, and it was great to hear these two young people talk about what makes a good documentary. Qualities that emerged as being important were films that carefully revealed multilayered facts about their subject or object of study and films that ensured that different and even opposing sides of a topic were covered.

We talked about the goal of the film, which will not only capture artsdepot as it is today, but will also tell the story of the organisation’s vibrant and diverse community. The approach I proposed for achieving this goal was to interview the artists and creative team who are developing work for the Tally Ho: A Place to Meet project. This means that we will create four short cinematic ‘vignettes’ each of which feature a different member of the creative team involved in the project. Each participant will talk about their contribution to the project, the different creative processes they have used, and finally, their work’s relationship to the different historical echoes that can be sensed at Tally Ho Corner.

Here’s a snap of Gianluca and I, capturing some footage at the Tally Ho pub just down the road from artsdepot.

photo 2

The session ended with discussions of cutaways, musical recordings and compositions, and different filmic approaches that we could explore to tell this story. Even in these early stages, I am very much looking forward to working with Gianluca, Natalka and the rest of the creative team involved in Tally Ho as the film continues to emerge.

Gaumont Memories (post from our visual artist Jacky Oliver)

Working as the Visual Artist for the The Tally Ho a Place to meet project has been a great opportunity to look at a site that I’ve known all my life, but I’ve never really appreciated the rich history of it. Focusing for the main part on the Gaumont Cinema I was lucky enough to meet the Reminiscence Group in East Barnet Village on August 29th . A lovely group of ladies meet once a month on Friday afternoons in the East Barnet Baptist Church. They kindly shared their memories of the Gaumont cinema with me.

 Jacky workshop pic 5 Jacky workshop pic 10

I am really fascinated by older generations, so I prepared some simple books for the group to record their memories through their own handwriting. The beauty of their flowing script is something that I will definitely be including in my final artwork.

A lot of the ladies had visited the cinema as children, with their parents and then later with boyfriends and then their own husbands and families. One lady went for Afternoon tea with china tea cups, served by waitresses in uniforms similar to the ones worn in the Lyons Tea Shops. Not everyone was lucky enough to have visited the cinema while the restaurant was open, although one went to a wedding reception there.

 Jacky workshop pic 6Jacky workshop pic 4

They discussed the 2 or three different prices for the tickets, 1 and 9 was definitely one of the prices. The way in which people queued in different lines for seats which varied in price.

The Grand Hall was another cinema in North Finchley, and a long list of other cinemas from the local area was discussed, Cinema was the main form of entertainment with the films being changed twice a week.  Monday Tuesday and Wednesday had one film and then on Thursday the film was changed.

Tally Ho corner has always been an important terminus, so it was really great to hear the different ways that visitors to the Gaumont travelled there, on trolley buses, some of the ladies clearly remembering the number and route that the buses or the trams they used travelled on.

There has been quite a change in the way cinema is less of an important part of our lives now. The way that these ladies have enthusiastically shared their experiences has been a real privilege to listen to. The next step now is to do justice to this session and Olivia’s research in the development of the final piece for the exhibition in October

So…we’ve been planning and talking (post from our Theatre Director, Victoria)

So…we’ve been planning and talking about the Tally Ho! A Place to Meet theatre performance for ages.  It will take place on Saturday 4th October at artsdepot’s Fun Palaces event to celebrate our 10th birthday.  It will celebrate the history of Tally Ho! Corner – especially the 19th Century Coach Company the corner takes its name from.  It will include lots and lots of local performers aged 13-100 – and it’s all started to take shape!

Last week the creative team gathered together to hear what interesting facts and stories Olivia’s research has uncovered.  We looked at pictures from the era of the Tally Ho! Coach Company, and clips of old films that would have been shown at the Gaumont Cinema.  There were even old posters and signs from the market that was here after the Gaumont was knocked down.  The hard thing is going to be choosing which stories to include in the performance, as there is loads of material to inspire us!

We’ve had our first audition workshop, which was loads of fun.  We spent some time playing silly games and getting to know each other first of all.  Then we started exploring the building – and have decided that there won’t be just one performance, but lots of ‘pop up moments’ throughout the day in unexpected places.  Here’s Gianluca improvising a Market-Stall-Holder character in the lift!

It’s not too late to get involved – the next workshop is on Wed 27th August 7-9pm.  Email participation@artsdepot.co.uk for more information.

Contradictions/Glamour/Community – Post from our archivist, Olivia Bellas


flicking through the archives


These three words sum up where I am at on the research side of the project. An excellent mix.As I’m particularly interested in site specific work it’s been a serious pleasure to be able to delve into a precise location and layer by layer, let it’s presence unfold. The artsdepot site was not one I was familiar with prior to this project and that’s given me an approach to my research that is fresh and wide-eyed. When I get off the bus at North Finchley bus depot now, I think of the coaches, the trams and the trolley buses. When I see the curved part of the building atop the bathstore, I’m jolted to a 1930’s cinema. When I go up in the lift at artsdepot, I think of the people that live above, today.

So I won’t give away any details about the research itself as that will be revealed as part of the October theatre piece, visual artwork, film and exhibition. But do know that every archive trip is it’s own unique experience – thank you to the Finchley Society’s basement treasures, Barnet Archives extensive knowledge and enthusiasm and as always, the white gloves at LMA. By far the most privileged experience is carrying out oral histories – within an interview setting, allowing personal memories to come to you and inform and excite others. As only human words and emotion can.

Following a presentation of my findings to the team this week, it’s now our job to translate the material and engage an audience. And it’s important to note that public engagement and participation are major elements of this project. The creative process will be made more magical when visitors come and have their say, fill in the blanks and continue a dialogue about the Tally Ho Corner area. I do hope that I take the concepts of contradictions/glamour/community into my next piece of research.

Introducing Tally Ho Corner

Tally Ho Corner is a busy intersection in Finchley, North London and the home of artsdepot, an award winning multi-arts venue. But what has this corner of North London meant to local people in other historical periods? And where did it get its quirky name?


Tally Ho! A Place to Meet is an opportunity to explore the history of a local landmark through personal stories, archival research, community art, performance and film. With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we’re using the opportunity presented by artsdepot’s tenth birthday (this October!) to learn more about the site we call home.

So far, we’ve learned that Tally Ho Corner is a place that has housed lots of cultural and community activities, and has been a transport hub since as early as the 1800s, when it is believed to have been a stop for the Tally Ho Coach Company.

Archivist, Olivia Bellas, has been working with our local heritage partner, the Finchley Society, to collect more information about artsdepot’s home. In July, Olivia trained a group of young people aged 13-18 in oral history interview techniques and the young people went on to conduct two interviews with local people with first-hand memories of the beautiful art deco Gaumont Cinema, which stood at Tally Ho Corner for 50 years from 1937-1987.

All this research will feed into several creative projects. Our team includes Visual Artist, Jacky Oliver; Film maker, Sarah Mace-Dennis and Theatre Director, Victoria Briggs, who is also artsdepot’s new Participation Manager. Each of these artists will be working with members of the local community to bring snapshots of our local history to life.

Our exhibition launches on 4th October as part of artsdepot’s Fun Palace birthday extravaganza.

Click here to learn more.