MOOR HALL CAPTURED IN TIME
Moor Hall at Cookham, Berks, was built in 1805 as a Regency
grange house. As the years passed, it became a stately Victorian home and then a
convalescent nursing-home. With World War Two it was a home for evacuees and later
offices for Odeon Theatres -- a film booking centre. In 1945 it became the
studios for Gaumont British Animation, which lasted until 1950. Over the years
it served as a training college, and in 1971 the Intitute of Marketing adopted it as
its new home. An excellent written history of this landmark can be found in booklet "Moor Hall:
A History of the Place and its People" by Roger Parkes. Published by the Chartered
Institute of Marketing at Moor Hall, Cookham.
The photographs below, are from the Fred Shackell and
Cab Smith Collections. Fred was part of the team
at Gaumont British Instructional, the Diagramatic Section at the studios. All the
photos were taken in those late 1940 years when Moor Hall Studios was at its peak.
This is, in effect, Moor Hall captured in time. Enjoy!
THE STUDIO COMPLEX FROM THE AIR. According to Cab Smith who
provided the photo, Studio Stills Photographer Doug Imray took this picture in
the late 1940s while being flown in a Miles Magister aircraft. Cookham village
is in the background.
THE MAIN GATE -- A winter's day in the late 1940s.
THE MAIN PORTAL -- The main door at Moor Hall where so many famous visitors
and talented animation crew members passed through. Inside was a grand staircase
passed the bay window. David Hand's office was upstairs and to the right.
REFLECTIONS OF ANOTHER AGE -- The building at Moor Hall as seen from the
garden. Here crew members spend their lunchtimes in deck chairs, basking in the sunshine.
THE SOUND STUDIO -- This strange block-building was the domain of Stu Crombie and other
technicians as they
created the soundtracks for GB Animation "Animaland" and
"Musical Paintbox" films, and also
GB Instruction and commercial productions.
THE "FARM" AT MOOR HALL -- This was the pride and joy of Miss Freda Salberg, adminstrator
and "Chief Whip" at the studios. The studio vegetable gardens provided
much of the requirements for
the studio kitchen and chefs.
THE IDYLLIC LIFE -- Buildings erected in the gardens to house the many artists
THE CARRIAGE ARCHWAY -- This was the other portal to the Moor Hall Studios,
a reflection of another age.
THE FLOOD OF 1947 -- Following an abnormally high snowfall and a rapid melt nearby
River Thames burst its
banks and large areas were flooded.
Moor Hall was surrounded, and supplies had to be brought
in by boat.
This photo shows the main street in Cookham.
THE FLOOD OF 1947 -- Not only were supplies boated in, staff came to work in punts,
canoes and anything that would float. Entering the Studios in a punt are (left to right) Minnie Smith
(Cab Smith's mother), Peggy Harvey, a Studio Restaurant waitress, and seated are two
unidentified garden staff.Photo from the Cab Smith Collection
THE SUN ALSO SHINES -- Two unidentified crew members from the Moor Hall Studios
take time in the late 1940s to bask in the sun on the lawn. It wasn't always like this. Artists, writers
and production personnel sometimes spent long and grueling hours producing films.
The old studios may have slipped away into time, but these photos -- and the Animaland films
live on -- a tribute to David Hand and the crew that lived and created
animation here sixty years ago.
Back to our Moor Hall Index