Early Ealing - Ealing in Ealing films c.1915
Nearby streets appear regularly in Ealing films of the 1940s and 1950s, the classic period of the Ealing Studios. Here, between 1947 and 1950, are The Grove, Bond Street and Grange Road, all a short distance from the studio buildings:
The district as a whole, as well as neighbouring Acton and Brentford, provided locations for Ealing Studios productions throughout this period. Ealing films of the 1930s, when the studios were home to Associated Talking Pictures, did the same thing. Here are Saint Mary's Road, Pitshanger Lane and The Avenue:
The first studio on this site was built by Will Barker, who made films here between 1909 and 1918.
The BFI has recently put on line three films made in Ealing in 1915, allowing us to see that the practice of filming in the vicinity was already in place at that time. The Lure of Drink is the most clearly Ealing-centred, followed by Heart of a Coster. Rogues of London uses mostly central London locations, but there are two or three glimpses of the Ealing area.
The Lure of Drink is a transposition to Ealing of Zola's L'Assommoir. Unsurprisingly, pubs feature heavily. The Queen Victoria was at the junction of The Grove and Ealing Green.
Convenient proximity to the studio explains the reappearance of this pub in Heart of a Coster:
At some point after 1915 the Queen Victoria was rebuilt or remodelled. It still got to appear in films, as in the shot from Hue and Cry already shown above. It was recently renamed The Grove:
The other pub seen in The Lure of Drink is the New Inn, also near the studio but in the other direction down Saint Mary's Road:
There is a brief shot of a pub in Rogues of London. No visual evidence confirms my conjecture that the King's Arms in this film is the King's Arms at 55 The Grove, but it does seem to me likely:
Even more so than a pub, a shop is likely to change its name and appearance over time. Rare are instances such as this, where Lewis the chemist on Haven Green is the same now as it was in a film more than sixty years ago:
This, in The Lure of Drink, is 52-53 Ealing Broadway:
The shopfronts have changed too much to allow a visual identification, but in Kelly's Directory we can see where a shop called '...APP'S' is next to a 'LONDON AND SOUTH W...' something:
The London and South Western Bank had by 1918 been amalgamated with Barclays Bank, which explains why there is a branch of Barclays there now.
The Lure of Drink shows two views of another shop:
A visual match allows us to identify this as 24 Ealing High Street, at the junction with The Grove:
There is one other identified Ealing location in The Lure of Drink, and it can also be seen in Heart of a Coster:
In the latter it represents a registry office; in the former it represents a girl's school, which is exactly what it was in 1915. Saint Mary's Girls' School was immediately next door to the studio, and is still there now, though it has become a Kingdom Hall for Jehovah's Witnesses:
In The Lure of Drink there is also a side view of the school:
There is one more identified view of Ealing in these three films. The West End club in Rogues of London is represented by a building somewhere more like Belgravia or Kensington than Ealing (I'm still looking for the exact location):
However, when the club is raided by the police, the view we get of the street outside with the police van is clearly not a view of the same street:
Even though the print at this point is in a terrible condition, it is still possible to recognise this as Disraeli Road, just south of the studios in Ealing:
In all three of these films there are locations that I can't identify, mostly streets with poor housing. If these were in the district they don't seem to be there now, and the films have become documents of an Ealing now lost. I have found no matches with the few postcards I have seen of that lost world, and it would require a more specialised local historian to give names to these places. I'm closing this post with these images in the hope that they will be seen by a historian of working-class Ealing: