Film ID:
YFA 5578



Visitor Tabs


Made by local butcher Henry Foster, this is a two part film of York in the 1930s.  The first part shows the Opening of West Bank Park in Holgate, on July 23rd, 1938.  The park, originally the grounds of West Bank House, was established in 1936–38 and included a statue of Queen Victoria that was originally in the Guildhall.  The second part of the film shows the fire brigade attending the fire that wrecked the Rialto Cinema on Fishergate in April, 1935.  The cinema was owned by composer John Barry’s father, John Prendergast.

The film begins with people standing outside the gates of West Bank Park including a group of girls in school uniform.  A dignitary opens one of the gates, and those gathered for the event, including some with pushchairs, make their way along the path into the park.  More dignitaries arrive, including Alderman Hutchinson, and they all congregate at a wooden hut next to a bowling green.  There is a glasshouse in the background.  There are two speeches to those assembled, including one given by the Lord Mayor, William Cooper.  The man who opened the gates digs a small hole with a shovel.  The dignitaries pose for the camera and watch a game of bowls.

Intertitle –  Fire! at the Rialto Cinema

A crowd of people, with quite a few boys, watch as three fire engines emerge from the Fire Station on Cumberland Street, next to the Police Station.  Next, another crowd watches the remnants of the fire which has devastated the Rialto Cinema.  Posters on the wall, at the side of the cinema which remains standing, advertise John Barrymore in ‘Long Lost Father’ and Otto Kruger in ‘The Crime Doctor’.  On the other side of the cinema are hoardings for Bing Crosby in ‘She Loves Me Not’, and a Jubilee presentation of ‘Lives of a Bengal Lancer’.  Fire engines arrive, and a tram passes by.  The shop next to the cinema of, ‘G E Barton’ can also be seen.  Hoses are laid along the street going towards the river.  A fire ladder stands in the centre of the street where there is a coal lorry and opposite a restaurant.

At the front of the cinema there is the Rialto Fruit Shop.  Firemen are hosing down what is left of the fire, sending up plumes of steam.  A fireman sits on what remains of one of the cinema’s walls where he directes operations.  The film shows the damage done to the cinema by the fire.  Three men stand watching with a factory behind them.  Fire chiefs stand talking at the front of the cinema where there is a fish shop and ‘Shepard and Son Ltd., Joiner and Building Contractors’.  

Intertitle –  Mr JX Prendergast

Prendergast, wearing a raincoat, looks around the damaged building.  Firemen stand next to a fire engine parked next to a church.  The cinema is seen with a collapsed roof, with firemen still hosing down, some on the precarious walls and what is left of the roof.  A man is attending a pump near the river, next to a canon mounted on a plinth, near the Castle Museum.  A fire engine stands outside what was the CIU building next to the cinema, where there are more advertising hoardings for the film releases.