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MEMORIES OF A RURAL CINE CLUB
By Gwen Shearing
Sometime ago Sylvia suggested that the members would be interested in my experiences as a member of a cine club in Horncastle, so here goes. My husband and l were members of the Whitehall Cine Society but, on retirement, we moved to Swaby, a small village in the beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds, an area of rolling farmland dotted with woods. We decided to join the Horncastle Cine Club so, having found out the day of the week on which they met, we went to the club room and knocked on the door.

There was a deathly hush. A small voice said "Come in”. We entered tentatively and said "We would like to join your club if you will have us”. Whereupon there was a very warm welcome, room made for us in the front row and cups of tea put in our hands. The Chairman was a local postman. Naturally, being a rural area, postal deliveries are made by van and the Chairman had his camera with him at all times. He made few films as such but used his camera as a record of local happenings such as the cleaning of the town hall clock, the laying of a new car park near the Post Office, the bad winter when the postmen had to clear the snow from the buried post boxes before they could collect the letters and one delightful episode when a robin had nested in a post box and still sat on her eggs as the letters were being collected. Some of the members were keen on slide photography as l am myself. So twice a year we had a slide show. Once a month we had a basket meal at a local pub and twice a year an outing such as a visit to the local sugar-beet factory! That may sound an odd place to go to but it was most interesting. We had reciprocal visits with the Grimsby Cine Club. They were much larger than us. They rented accommodation above a garage and had fitted it out with their own small cinema (seats scrounged from a local derelict cinema), a tea room and a wardrobe room where they kept costumes for fiction films. The journey to Horncastle was fifteen miles from our village through narrow country lanes. The best part of the journey was the wildlife. It was commonplace for pheasant to whirr up from the hedgerow, an owl to alight on a gatepost, rabbits to cross the road — my husband would stop the car for them! On average we only met two or three cars during the whole journey and were very annoyed when we did as they would frighten away wildlife. One Sunday evening our club room collapsed into a heap of rubble. It was lucky that we were not in it at the time and the important cine equipment was not damaged. Of course, we were then without a club room. Temporarily, we used a local village hall and it was at this time that my husband died suddenly. I continued with the club and, eventually, a local garage owner offered us the use of a loft above a large barn which was used as a workshop. There was electricity and water but no drainage and the loft was full of old farm implements and tractor wheels. It had no windows but there was a hoist which came in useful for removing the heavier scrap metal. We made up teams on Saturday mornings to help clear the space.

In a country area there are always people who have useful skills and within a short time we had a club room with a projection box, a kitchen area with water heater, a proper staircase from a house being demolished and a toilet downstairs and all covered by a donated carpet which had been slightly flood-damaged and therefore could not be sold. Not long afterwards, l moved back to Surrey but l attended their 25th anniversary two years ago and was greeted like an old friend. Good, kindly folk but then cine members mostly are.

SECOND TAKE June 1993

 

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