AFTER MOOR HALL:
WHERE DID THEY GO?
There were over 200 talented people -- artists, writers, technicians
and administrators -- working at Moor Hall Studios. It closed down early in 1950, and the
crew members went on to different paths. Some achieved fame in other areas of films,
others worked in different media such as comic art, while others moved into a
multiplicity of areas, while others disappeared in the dust of time.
As part of this David Hand, GB Animation, Moor Hall Studio resource site, we have
tried to assemble brief biographies of crew members where they went, what they did.
These notes in no way express or indicate the depth of their accomplishments, but should
provide enough names and directions for the student, historian and others who wish to
pursue more information about the lives of crew members from Moor Hall.
As you read these notes, you may well appreciate that David Hand and
G.B. Animation gathered a unique and extremely talented team at the Moor Hall
Studios, a fact that is frequently overlooked by history buffs and indeed, some
of the folk who worked at the studios.
If you have information (and a photo perhaps) of anyone who formed part of the team at
Moor Hall Studios, please email or write to Bob Egby. The address is on the Moor Hall Index page.
BERT FELSTEAD was a director of the nine Animaland films produced by David
Hand at GB Animation, all between 1948 and 1950. Film ititles were: The Lion
(Felis leo); The House-Cat (Felis Vulgaris); The Cuckoo; The Ostrich; It's a
Lovely Day; Ginger Nutt's Christmas Circus; Ginger Nutt's Bee-Bother; and The
Platypus. When the Moor Hall Studios closed in 1950, Bert went on to use his
artistic skills and creativity in comics. Steve Holland who is with the Look
and Learn Magazine company in London, has done extensive research on the works
of Felstead and you can see some of Bert's excellent work at http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2007/04/bert-felstead.html.
RAY PATTERSON was an early animation trainer at GB Animation. He came
from Hollywood, spent two years at Moor Hall, then returned. Ray had worked on
David Hand's team at Disney creating such films as "Fantasia" and "Dumbo"
before moving over the MGM animation unit in the early 1940s. David Hand
brought him over to Moor Hall. Afterwards, Ray returned to Hollywood where
he was animator and director on some sixty Hanna- Barbera Tom and Jerry
cartoons at MGM. He was animation director for "The Jetsons" movie in 1990
and retired in 1991. He was awarded the Winsor-McCay Award in 1999 and
described as "one of the animators of the great MGM unit during the Golden
Age." He died in 2001.
RON "NOBBY" CLARK (1923--2009).
Nobby Clark was a storyboard artist at Moor Hall. He worked alongside a number of artists who were to become stalwarts of the British comics scene: Eric Bradbury, Mike Western, Alf Saporito, Harry Hargreaves, Ron Smith, Bill Holroyd and others. It was through Nobby that many of these artists got their break at Amalgamated Press as he persuaded them to submit samples. Animation was Nobby's favoured profession: "If Rank had dumped his Charm School instead of G.B.A. I'd probably still be there," he later recalled. His later career returned him to animation, working with Jack Stokes on the French movie Asterix versus Caesar and on later productions The Forgotten Toys and Percy the Park Keeper. Nobby was married to Jill Lee, whom he met at G-B Animation, in 1950 and had four children and six grandchildren. He was devoted to his family and passed on tips to all those who showed any talent for drawing. Steve Holland of Bear Alley has an extensive and intimate story of Nobby’s life and it pays tribute to a great animation and comic book artist.
A Tribute to Ron "Nobby" Clark
ROY TURK was a camera operator at Moor Hall Studios and afterwards
worked on the animated "History of the Cinema" (1956) directed by
John Halas, and written by Nicholas Spargo (from the Moor Hall crew). He was
also camera operator on "The Candlemaker" (1957) and in 1978 worked the
animation cameras for "The Water Babies" which was directed by Lionel
Jeffries, and starred a multitude of actors including James Mason, Bernard
Cribbins, Billie Whitelaw.
KEY PEOPLE FROM DISNEY who assisted David Hand in getting G.B. Animation off the ground. At left John Reed, an animator on "Fantasia" and "Bambi" headed the animation training department at Moor Hall. At right, Ralph Wright, writer on Musical Paintbox and story producer for Animaland. Ralph Wright returned to Disney and worked until around 1972. A Disney animator and story/storyboard writer he is best known for providing the gloomy, sullen voice of Eeyore from the popular Winnie-the-Pooh franchise. He, along with his fellow Disney contemporaries, was a pioneer in the use of "gags" within cartoons, often acted out in front of the "story board," a bulletin board pinned with sequential sketches of the cartoon's scenes. This technique still in use today in most major animation studios. He reminisced often of his days at Cookham and said he enjoyed England very much. He died at his home in Los Osos, CA from a heart attack on December 30th 1983.
STU CROMBIE AND DIANA SCUPHAM
A LIFETIME ROMANCE STARTED AT COOKHAM
Stuart “Stu” Crombie, as many Moor Hall productions show, was the Sound Engineer at GB Animation. Stuart met his life-partner-to be Diana Scupham at Moor Hall, where she was a cell tracer/colourist, in 1946. Diana had studied art in Boston U.S.A. at the Massachussets School of Art. She had been evacuated to America from England at the beginning of World War 11. Diana, on her return to Surrey in November 1945, aged 19, worked for Acmade film equipment. She demonstrated various types of film joiners and editing machines at Dorland hall in the West End of London.
After inviting Diana to a dinner party where she realised she was the only guest, Stuart proceeded to stand on the dinner table and play the trumpet. This performance must have impressed Diana greatly, because they became engaged to be married! The ceremony took place at Cookham church on July 19th 1947. The wedding reception was held at Moor Hall.
In November 1947,they departed England for Hollywood U.S.A., where Stuart had been offered work as a musician, playing clubs and other venues in the Los Angeles area. Stuart and Diana lodged with Ray Patterson, a cartoonist friend who was living in Los Angeles at the time. However, due to a musicians' strike there, Stuart had no work. After 4 months Stuart and Diana, now heavily pregnant with their son, Russell, returned on the Queen Elizabeth steamship to the U.K, in March 1948, and back to working at Moor Hall film studios.
As GB Animation closed down in 1950, Stuart applied for, and gained the post of dubbing assistant at the BBC’s Alexandra Palace Television News Centre in North London, where he worked on the BBC Television Newsreel. In 1955, Stuart joined the fledgling Ealing Film Studios, working in sound recording and dubbing, for all genres of television programmes. Stuart and Diana were livng in Bourne End, a few miles from Cookham, at this time. In 1962 Stuart, Diana, and their two children - Russell and Janine - moved to Marlow on Thames, sixmiles from Bourne End. Stuart worked at Ealing's BBC film studios for another 25 years, rising to Senior Film Operations Manager.
During these years, his love of music and composing resulted in over 300 recordings. His collaboration with Dennis Berry, and other publishers, saw Stuart's music on various record labels and library compilation discs. Boosey and Hawkes, Pye, Columbia records, Olympic,to name a few were labels who represented Stuart's music. The BBC also commissioned Stuart to compose title Theme music for programmes, such as "The World About Us",and in particular, the flagship BBC current affairs programme "Panorama", for which he composed and arranged the title music. That music is still used to this day.
After 25 tears at the BBC, Stuart retired, and with Diana, they sold up and moved to Fuengirola, southern Spain. They had both fallen in love with the Spanish way of life during many holidays and visits to friends there. Stuart had fulfilled his dream - a place in the sun - with tapas, wine ,fellow ex-pats, Scots, speaking Spanish to the locals, and of course, playing his hammond organ in his appartment overlooking the Mediterranean! However, health issues meant that Stuart and Diana were to return to England in 1992. Stuart always missed Spain, although he enjoyed meeting old friends and musicians from the BBC days in various pubs in the Marlow area.. Stuart passed away suddenly and peacefully in 1994 while mowing the lawn in his garden Diana still lives in Marlow today - still going strong - aged 83.
(Submitted by his son, Russell Crombie)
July 14th 1947, Stuart Crombie marries his love, Diana Scupham at Cookham.
Both were part of the "Crew" at Moor Hall.
Stuart and Diana, over forty years later, pictured in sunny Spain.
Their's was one of several long-term marriages that started at the Moor Hall Studios.
CHARLES PITHERS, departed Moor Hall to work for the relocated Gaumont
British Instructional at Elstree. Later after working for the growing
advertising giant Pearl and Dean, Charles started his own company, Animation
Services Ltd, at the prestigious address of 1 Soho Square, London where they
made animated instructional films for the growing television and computer
industries for 17 years. He had a crew of 17 as well. One major client for
three years was Michael Bartlett's Edutronics Systems International in Los
Angeles. Later, he and his wife, Rhona Hurt, moved to Guernsey in the Channel
Islands and they now reside in the Bury St. Edmunds area in the UK. Both
Rhona and Charles were both rostrum camera technicians.
THE PETE BANKS STORY: Pete Banks was an Animaland Background Designer, seen in picture right (standing) with Animaland Director Bert Felstead. His story is written by his wife Eileen Banks in Christchurch, UK,
Pete joined Gaumont British Animation as a trainee straight from the R.A.F. having flown Liberators out of India over Burma. After Moor Hall folded he worked for a variety of advertising agencies in London. In 1957 we moved to Pyrford, Surrey where we were surprised to meet Eddie Radage who also lived there. We spent quite a lot of time with Eddie and Pauline.
Pete worked on Yellow Submarine as a background artist and I recall a party at Rich Cox's place in Richmond and meeting up with old friends, Hester Coblentz and Dave Livesey were there amongst others. Pete later ran a Graphics office at Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, but ill health forced early retirement. Pete also lost the sight in his right eye. Undeterred began painting lifelike images of butterflies with much success, exhibiting at Mall Galleries and the Shell Building in London , Penn Barn, Bucks, and Solent Gallery,Lymington.
We had moved to Highcliffe, Dorset in 1988 and in 1990 Pete's health became much worse and after a serious 6 by-pass operation in the August he eventually died aged 68 in November.
As for me, I left Moor Hall in 1948 or 9 as I had T.B.and spent some months in a sanatorium at Ventnor, I.O.W. When I got back to work again it was freelance on comics for Amalgamated Press, then as a tracer at Vickers Armstrong at the old Brooklands site, Weybridge, where I worked on the T.S.R.2 , V.C.10 and B.A.C.1-11. Then with a consulting engineer company at Woking and Godalming until we moved to Dorset.
We had a very happy life together, and now I'm on my own I am very active with the local Art society and also travel a fair bit, Australia, South Africa, Russia, most of Europe and last October spent my 80th. birthday in New England
I often think of those years at Moor Hall, the great dances, pub crawls etc., I wonder who remembers The Vocal Touch and Charlie Barnets Midnight in Munich from the A.F.N. on the old radiogram in the lounge? Thats all, folks. Eileen.
THE EILEEN WHATLEY (BANKS) STORY -- LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT:
(Photo right shows the famous "Haggery." Eileen Whatley (Banks) seated with Hester Coblenz standing)
Eileen says she went to Moor Hall at the very beginning, when it was still occupied mostly by Odeon staff and Gaumont British Animation were in the process of taking over. She says she had previously traced at Halas and Batchelor in Soho Square and when she came to Moor Hall she became one of the "Hags" in Trace and Paint at G.B.A. She is on the crew list as Eileen Whatley.
Eileen writes: You ask about when we were married, we did in fact cause a lot of gossip as Pete was already married when we met, and dare I say, with us it was "love at first sight". What with one thing and another, we didn't even live together until 1957, and eventually married in 1977! His was one of those hasty war time marriages which often came to grief. I was 17 and Pete was 23 when we got together at the first dance on October 1st after his arrival at Moor Hall. Because of that we chose October 1st (1977) to be married. Aaagh!! Eileen
THE GEORGE HAWTHORN STORY, written by 88 years-old Pam Hawthorn, and sent in by their daughter Jenny.
"When my husband George Hawthorn started working for David Hand Productions in 1948, we lived near Ilford in Essex. George lived in at Moor Hall and came home at the weekends. I remember the time Moor Hall was surrounded by flood water and George and others arrived at work by punt.
After a while we sold the house and shared a house in Maidenhead with Jack Stokes, his wife Jill and their two year old daughter. We had a son of the same age and my step-son who had to sleep in the attic. We eventually bought a house in Cippenham. Money was very short in those days and with a young family, I often searched in the local park for empty bottles, to raise a few extra pence.
At that time, the crew at Moor Hall were all classed as apprentices for 2 years, even though George had exhibited at the Royal Academy before the war. He had also previously earned his living as a portrait artist, painting Winston Churchill’s daughters and some well known film stars.
The only time I remember visiting Moor Hall myself was attending two of the New Year’s Eve parties. We were very friendly with Bob Mitchell and his wife Mary.
George and I went to the premiere of ‘The Lion’ at the Odeon in Leicester Square. It was being shown with Dirk Bogarde’s first big film and it was great to see George’s name up on the big screen. I’m pretty sure that the closure of Moor Hall happened about two weeks before the end of the apprenticeship, it was a great blow to everyone.
George was able to work in advertising agencies in London, his training in Technicolour at Moor Hall was very useful. In July 1950 George accepted a job in an advertising agency in Wellington, New Zealand. We returned to the UK after two years and George became a Graphic Art Director in various agencies. He also worked in Cape Town and Kampala, Uganda but no job ever gave him as much satisfaction and happiness as in the GB Animation studio at Moor Hall. George retired aged 65 in 1979 and very sadly died six months later from a massive heart attack.-- Pam Hawthorn.
DAVID LIVESEY was an assistant model cameraman at Moor Hall Studios, which closed down during his national service in the RAF.
He worked for four years at Technicolor in their Neg Cutting department and later in Neg Defects, meeting up with Eddie Radage and Geoff Collins soon after they finished working on Animal Farm. They formed the Edric Radage Group, and started making black and white TV commercials, with the help of Jeff Martin in the advertising agency, Bensons, films such as Omo, Guinness and Murraymints.
In 1957 he formed Group Two Animation Ltd with Geoff Collins as his co- director in Richmond, Surrey, producing more than 250 TV Commercials, in B/W and colour as well as many episodes of the earliest series films, such as Dodo, Lone Ranger, the Beatle series, and finally many sequences for the “Yellow Submarine” film. He also pioneered the use of Xerography on cel in Britain, to speed up production.
In 1972 Geoff went to Australia with his wife Dot, and Dave went freelance, working for TVC, Cosgrove Hall and others as a key animator on many productions including “Snowman”, “Waterbabies”, “Heavy metal”, “Christmas Carol”, “Cobbler and Thief”, “Sam Whiskers”, “Wind in the Willows”, the “Bear” and more.
In the 90's he taught animation for the British Animation Training
Scheme at the Museum of the Moving Image, and at the National Film
School, until MOMI was sadly closed down. After his wife died in 2002 he moved from the family home in Walton on Thames Surrey to the Isle of Man, where he published two illustrated childless books on Manx folk tales. At the age of 78 he still draws and paints prolifically! ( Submitted by Dave's daughter Wendy Wilson).
FOOTNOTE: When Bob Morrow (see next story) left Moor Hall to go to New Zealand, he gave a painting he had created to his friend David Livesey. It is reproduced at right.
ROBERT (BOB) MORROW spent a brief two years with David Hand at the
Moor Hall Studios before heading off to New Zealand in 1948 where he worked
for the country's National Film Unit. In 1951 he founded his own animation
production company, Morrow Productions with a now famous artist Mike Walker.
From 1952 until its end in the 1980s the company, based in Levin in the lower
North Island, produced documentary and instructional animation films for the
government and did extensive advertising work. Bob Morrow is considered to be
the father of animation in New Zealand. In the 1980s, Morrow Productions (Mike
Walker director) produced a trilogy of films dealing with the lives of young
Maori in contemporary New Zealand and received critical acclaim for raising
important social issues. Morrow Productions films can be found in The New
Zealand Film Archives at www.filmarchive.org.nz. Thanks to Kristen Wineera at
the Archives for information.
WILLIAM (BILL) CLARKE - was born within a couple of miles of Moor Hall
at Cookham Dean, and at 16 applied for employment as a junior diagrammatic
animation artist with Gaumont British Instructional, part of the fledgling Moor
Hall Studios in 1946. He says he received "excellent on-the-job training" from
the 16-member diagrammatic crew. After National Service, he rejoined GB
Instructional, now housed at Elstree. In 1953 he worked as animation storyboard
designeron Halas and Batchelor's "Handling Ships". He later spent two years
as animation unit director and cameraman at W.M. Larkins producing national
advertising shorts. In 1955, he emigrated to Canada and joined the famous
Canadian production company, Crawley Films of Ottawa. Ken Gay, who had been
at Elstree with Bill was Head of Animation. For almost 20 years, Bill was
involved in planning, animating, and producing films at the Crawley Studios.
He directed the mountain graphic sequences for Canada's only Oscar-winning
feature film "The Man Who Skied Down Everest." After Crawley, he spent 12
years with his own production company in Canada. He semi-retired in 1995 and
continues to live near Ottawa.
HENRY REED - Composed the music for 14 of David Hand's animated films
at Moor Hall. He was a prolific composer producing all the music tracks for
the Animaland and Musical Paintbox series in a very short time - 1948 and
1950. Little is know of his activities after Moor Hall except he composed
the music in 1954 for the film on the life of "John Wesley" and later, in
1960, was a member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in
1960. He did conduct the orchestra which played the music he composed for "A
Fantasy on Ireland", a Musical Paintbox production.
NICHOLAS (Nick) SPARGO - The bearded, highly talented animator,
artists, writer who worked on several of the Musical Paintbox films for
David Hand, after a spell with the Halas and Batchelor studios went on to
create what has become a British classic in animation - "Willo the Wisp."
Nick had the idea in 1977 and the 26 five minute episodes hit BBC Television
in 1982 and was an immediate success. It featured Doyley Woods "a strange place
where overweight fairies, obstreperous caterpillars and spectacled cats rub
shoulders with a maleficient walking, talking television set. Doyley Woods
is presided over by the Gregarious spirit Willow the Wisp." These quotes are
from Toonhound which has lots more to say on the series.
(www.toonhound.com/willo.htm) Nick married Mary Hadshead, an artist from G.B.
Instructional at Moor Hall, who created the Willo backgrounds. Another Moor
Hall veteran who animated on the Willo series was Ted Percival. Nick crossed
into Spirit in 1997, but Willo lives on. Nick and Mary's daughter Mary Spargo
is now on Spargo Productions which is currently (2006) producing four major
feature films and has launched a new series of TV cartoons - Willo the Wisp.
Incidentally, like Moor Hall's Animaland cartoons, the original 26 episodes of
Willo the Wisp are available on DVD in the United Kingdom and the United
States. We found them both on Amazon.
WILLIAM (Bill) MEVIN was a late-comer to Moor Hall and worked as a
trainee film animator in its closing years. Afterwards Bill went on to work on
Halas and Bachelor's full-length "Animal Farm" (1954). Later he joined the
Sunday Chronicle as a topical cartoonist. Eventually he turned to comics and
drew such characters as "Lenny the Lion","Supercar", "Space Patrol", "Dr.
Who", "Bugs Bunny", "Popeye" and many others. When the comic market began
to shrink, he produced a strip for the Daily Mail spoofing overblown American
soap operas - called "The Soapremes." In November 1992 he took over the
artwork for "The Perishers" for the Daily Mirror and worked until the
strip died with its founder, Maurice Dodd in December 2005. Dodd had also
worked on Animal Farm. For more information, go to Steve Holland's
JACK STOKES was a young animator at Moor Hall Studios and when the
unit closed he found work for his talents with Pat Griffin's production unit
in Maidenhead. But Jack was destined to put his artistic talents to good use.
In the mid-1960s he went to America and directed four TV segments featuring
The Beatles. Returning to Britain he was animation director for the Beatles'
1968 movie "Yellow Submarine." He later ran his own company - Jack Stokes
cartoons -- making cartoons and commercials. You'll find Jack's name in the
credits for such films as "The Little Mermaid" (1974), "The Water Babies"
(1978), "Father Christmas" (1991), "Prince Valiant" (1997), and "Christmas
Carol - The Movie" (2001). We spoke to Jack some time ago. In his 80s he
lives between Maidenhead and Moor Hall, Cookham where it all started over
half a century ago. Incidentally, in July 1998 Robert R. Hieronimus, Ph.D wrote
an excellent article for Animation World Magazine in which he tracks the
animators who worked on "Yellow Submarine", and there is a writeup
on Jack Stokes. The article can be found at:
ANDRE AMSTUTZ was born in Brighton, studied art and design at Brighton School of Art and then joined G.B. Animation at Moor Hall. After Moor Hall, he began a career in advertising, becoming Art Director for an advertising agency. Since 1960 he has worked freelance, designing posters and illustrations for a wide variety of clients. More recently he has moved into publishing, primarily as an illustrator of children's books. We found "Tarquin and the Canal Crooks" written by Andre and wife Pat in an American bookstore. They also wrote and illustrated "Tarquin and the Jolly Sea Dogs" through Penquin / Puffin.
HARRY HARGREAVES -- When Harry died at age 82 a few years back, several of the London dailies carried his obituary. After working at Moor Hall 1946-1950 he went off to create such well-known and loved "the bird" for Punch, Hayseeds in the London Evening News and the immortal illustrations in Michael Bond's Paddington Bear stories for the Blue Peter annuals. He illustrated Wind in the Willows, and while engaged by the Toonder Film Studios in Amsterdam in 1953 Harry drew a strip called Little Pandas which was syndicated in 150 newspapers across Europe. He produced it for eight years. He suffered an aneurism in 1989 and his health declined until his death in November 2004. He was survived by his wife, Wendy "Penny" Vickery whom he married at Moor Hall in 1948. Harry came to Moor Hall after studying furniture design at the Manchester School of Art in 1938, working at Rolls Royce, serving in WWII in the RAF in India, Ceylon and Persia.
EDITOR'S NOTE: To be Continued....
THE MAIN GATE -- A winter's day in the late 1940s.
Back to our Moor Hall Index