|Title ID||1290||Collection ID||198|
|Title||[Godalming Church Parade & Ambulance Presentation]|
|Date||17 December 1911; 23 September 1917|
|Theme||Early film in the South East|
|Keywords||Armed Forces Ceremonies Charities Communities First World War (1914-1918) Health Services Local Government Motor Vehicles Parades Religious Activities Wars|
|Format||35mm Black & White Silent|
|Duration||6 min. 16 sec.|
|Copyright & Access||Copyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details|
These local newsreels record the citizens of Godalming at two official gatherings. The first is a pre-First World War civil procession; the second is a service of dedication in which the town presents a motorized First World War ambulance to the Red Cross.
On a rainy winter's day in 1911 policemen, councillors, local dignitaries, firemen, postmen and telegram boys walk in a civic procession along Godalming High Street, passing The Pepperpot and Midland Bank on their way to the Parish Church. The exclusively male procession is watched and followed by civilians dressed in their Sunday bests.
The town gathers again six years later at a service of dedication in Phillips Memorial Ground. The 2,000 strong crowd, the combined choirs of Godalming, Farncombe and Busbridge, the 166th Canadian Band, and members of the armed and emergency services pose next to the ambulance which the town has gifted the Red Cross. Major Wells, the Chaplain in Chief to the Canadian Forces stationed at the nearby Whitley Camp, leads the outdoor service before Red Cross representative Sir Herbert Jekyll joins Godalming Mayor Charles Burgess in an inspection of the new ambulance.
The second item on [Godalming Church Parade & Ambulance Presentation] (1911; 1917), and most probably the first, was filmed by Mr W.G. Fudger, the manager of The Godalming Electric Picture Palace which was located on Station Road. The Picture Palace was the first purpose-built cinema in the town, seating approximately 300 people. It was the dominant supplier of moving images in Godalming during the 1910s and as such it was in Fudger's interest to supply images of local interest, images that would attract a local audience into the cinema. Both of the events captured on film in [Godalming Church Parade & Ambulance Presentation] (1911; 1917) served this purpose - they were significant moments for the local community; today they serve as important historical records.
The first film records the annual Mayor and Corporation Church Procession to Godalming Parish Church. Parades like these were common subject matter in early actualities and newsreels - as moments of visual spectacle they were perfectly suited to the moving image medium. In addition, the official nature of the Church Parade encouraged a feeling of community pride in the town's human infrastructure (the police force, the fire service, etc) - a feeling that could be rekindled at subsequent cinema screenings.
The feeling of community pride mentioned above was central to the event recorded in the second film, namely the presentation of an ambulance to the Red Cross for usage in the war effort. The money needed to pay for the purchase and upkeep of this modern vehicle had been raised in a prolonged fundraising effort by the Godalming Commercial Association. It was an activity being repeated across the country during the First World War - communities pulled together to support the war work of the Red Cross and St John's Ambulance. The civilian war effort was crucial to a successful campaign in Europe, and propaganda was the key tool used to raise awareness and activity. Newsreels played an important role in the propaganda machine, relaying positive images to a nation of cinemagoers. The filming of the ambulance dedication in Godalming served this purpose - it was shown nightly at The Picture Palace in the week following the service, instilling in the audience a sense of local (and national) pride and unity.
Screen Archive South East holds two other films known to have been filmed by W.G. Fudger - they feature in the compilation [Christmas Shopping]; Surrey Women War Workers; The Path of Duty was the Path of Glory (1914 - 1922) and contain images of local interest.
Screen Archive South East also houses a number of amateur films which record the community and town of Godalming throughout the decades. These include Godalming Carnival Week, 1924 (1924), Coronation Day in Godalming (1953) and Godalming '400' (1974) which records events celebrating the town's 400th anniversary.