Haydon and Urry, Ltd. was a company of scientific engineers that started out designing and manufacturing various automatic machines (including coin-operated slot machines), but later became involved in the production of  film and the design and manufacture of cinematographic equipment. The company eventually become one of the main suppliers of cinematographic equipment to the travelling showmen who presented the new medium of moving pictures to fairground audiences.

The firm of Haydon and Urry was a partnership of a number of scientific engineers and mechanical technicians; including George Urry (an engineer), William and George Haydon, and George Sommerville.

Haydon and Urry, Ltd. initially ran their automatic machine business from 34 Gray's Inn Road, London, but moved their business location to 353 Upper Street, Islington in the latter months of 1896 at the time that they were venturing into the manufacture of cinematographic equipment. Haydon and Urry also established their own film production studio and showroom/cinema which was set up in an adjacent photographer's shop on Church Street. It was at this time, that James, George and Richard Monte were hired to supply film footage and to demonstrate the company's cinematographic equipment to the showmen proprietors.


Haydon and Urry produced the Autocosmoscope which they advertised as 'the most perfect penny-in-slot seeing machine ever produced'.  The Autocosmoscope was a stereo viewer, and although the company advertised the machine as showing 'living pictures', in reality, the images that were displayed were still images.

Haydon and Urry's first piece of cinematographic equipment was a projector which they initially advertised on 20 February 1897 as 'the New Cinematograph'.  However, on 24 April 1897, the firm began advertising their machine as the 'The Eragraph' (named after the Era newspaper).

Haydon and Urry had a ready-made market for their new projector in the travelling showmen. The firm had already developed a strong association with many of the showmen through the sale of their slot machines and from their new location on Upper Street, they had easy access to the showmen who attended the Christmastime World's Fair at the Royal Agricultural Hall (also located on Upper Street). Randall Williams became their main showman associate and exhibitor, but The Eragraph became popular with many of the travelling showmen because it was a sturdy and reliable piece of equipment.

The regular model Eragraph has survived almost intact and examples of the machine can be found at The Barnes Museum of Cinematography, in St. Ives, Cornwall and at the Science Museum in London.

Click for larger image

Who's Who of Victorian Cinema
Edited by
Stephen Herbert and Luke McKernan

HAYDON, Frank and URRY, George

Manufacturers. Haydon and Urry, a firm of scientific engineers headed by Frank Haydon and George Urry ran a business from 34 Gray's Inn Road, London, moving in late 1896 to 353 Upper Street, Islington. They produced the Autocosmoscope, advertised as 'the most perfect penny-in-slot seeing machine ever produced' showing 'lifelike reproductions of living pictures', though this stereo viewer showed only still images. Soon they were advertising a film projector, the Eragraph, purportedly of their own design and manufacture, having applied for a patent on 10 February l897 (it received provisional protection only). It is possible, however, that the Eragraph owed more than a little to the projector design of German engineer Max Gliewe. Originally advertised as 'the New Cinematograph', legal pressure may have made them change it to the Eragraph, first advertised under that name on 24 April. Four months later Haydon and Urry could boast that their projector was established in twenty principal theatres and music halls around the country. Their chief associate and exhibitor was Randall Williams. The Eragraph was a
strong and reliable machine, popular with many travelling showmen.

Haydon and Urry also produced a small number of films, employing the brothers Richard and James Monte as operators, Including scenes of Henley regatta, Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee procession and two popular comedies, The Bride's First Night and its sequel, Twelve Months After, both released in December 1898. Little is known of Haydon and Urry themselves, though George Urry appears to have been their technician and to have headed the partnership. (DG)

References: Barnes, The Beginnings of the Cinema in England, Vol. 2

WILLIAMS, Randall (l846-l898)

'King of Showmen', and generally accepted as the first to present a cinema exhibition at a British fairground. The venue was the King's Lynn Valentine's Day fair, where he opened his show on 15 February 1897.

Born in Liverpool, the son of a hawker, Randall Williams ran away from home at an early age to travel the fairs with his own conjuring show. Subsequently, in the 60s and early 70s, he was among a number of famous booth operators who sought to adapt the popular Pepper's Ghost illusion (a stage trick using live actors and giant mirrors) for fairground exhibition.

His earliest rivals included George Walls, George Biddall, Alfred Walbrook, 'Colonel' William Clarke and George Mackey - all of whom followed Williams into the Bioscope business. From 1875, Williams was a regular exhibitor at the 'World's Fair', which took place at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, London, for a six-week season, commencing on Christmas Eve. For the 1896-97 season, Williams took the bold step of turning over his familiar 'Grand Phantascopical Exhibition' entirely to the presentation of moving pictures.

The supplier of Randall Williams's first projector is not recorded, but about this time he developed a strong association with the firm of Haydon and Urry of Upper Street, Islington. Frank Haydon, George Urry and their partner George Summerville were primarily makers and suppliers of coin-operated slot machines to pubs, penny-arcade owners, shop-showmen and fairground travellers. Possibly influenced by their neighbouring competitor, George Barron of the Interchangeable Syndicate Co., Upper Street, who had been advertising 'Edison' projectors for sale since September l896, they set about developing their own patent device. Their first machine, the New Cinematograph, was offered for sale to the general public in late February 1897. In April it was superseded by the Eragraph, taking its name from the national show business paper, the Era. Randall Williams both used and championed this machine up to the time of his death.

To ensure a supply of film for the Eragraph, Haydon and Urry established their own film production unit based in an adjacent photographer's shop in Church Street, which also functioned as a showroom and public cinema. To assist in the film-making process they employed two brothers, photographers Richard and James Monte. Home-produced subjects offered for sale by the company during the summer of 1897 included The King on his yacht at Cowes, the 1897 Derby and footage of Queen Victoria's Jubilee procession. Haydon and Urry's machine was strong and reliable, and they were soon to equip a large number of travelling showmen. Through his links as the firm's main film supplier and demonstrator, Richard Monte soon began to develop a fascination not only for the lifestyle of Randall Williams but also for Randall's seventeen year-old daughter, Carrie, whom he married while she was still a minor.

On 14 November 1898, Randall Williams's career as a cinema pioneer was cut tragically short when he contracted typhoid fever in Grimsby and died. Very soon after this, Richard Monte - one of the trustees of Randall's estate - assumed ownership of Randall's show and also, more significantly, changed his name to Randall Williams. This has led to a great deal of confusion among cinema historians, further compounded by the fact that Monte also offered varying accounts of his own achievements during his lifetime, consistently, some would say pathologically, failing even to mention the existence of the real Randall Williams.

Richard Monte died in the 1950s, after running a cinema for some years at Canvey Island. (MH)

This extract was very kindly donated by Pauline Gashinski, a descendant of Richard Monte

Here's another extract also donated by  Pauline Gashinski, but of uncertain source

Haydon & Urry Ltd

Haydon & Urry Ltd, of 355 Upper Street, Islington, were one of the few manufacturers of cinematographs who had not been connected previously with the optical magic lantern trade. In 1896, the firm had produced a coin-operated moving picture device called the Autocosmoscope, but it was not until February of the following year that a regular cinematograph was produced. It was called the Eragraph and at least two different models seem to have been made. Unfortunately, details of only one
of these are known for certain, although a very incomplete mechanism in the Barnes Museum may be a relic of the earlier model (52). It has some characteristics of the regular Eragraph, having an identical Maltese-cross movement, with the mechanism similarly assembled on a brass plate.
The regular model Eragraph has survived almost intact and examples are to be found in the Science Museum, London,"' and in the Barnes Museum (33). The Apparatus consists of two parallel brass plates, which are connected at their corners by steel rods with brass sleeves, so that they
stand about 4 inches apart. The thicker back plate carries the film mechanism, comprising a Maltese-cross and cam for imparting the intermittent movement to the sprocket wheel which is situated below the picture aperture. The roll of him is suspended between two uprights at the top, and issues freely from the bottom of the instrument as no take-up spool is provided. The objective lens is mounted between the two brass plates and travels backwards and forwards on a screw for focusing, a suitable aperture being provided in the front plate to allow the image to pass. The shutter is situated immediately behind this aperture and is revolved by means of pinion geared to the main drive and supported at its other end by a bearing in the front plate. The machine, together with its lantern, are mounted on a wooden baseboard, the forward section of  which slides back and forth so that the distance between the two units can be varied to suit the requirements of the illuminant.
Haydon & Urry's first cinematograph, which we shall call the Eragraph n°1, was probably the subject of patent application No 3572 of 10 February 1897. The application received provisional protection only so consequently was not printed. It almost certainly relates to the apparatus advertised in The Era for 20 February referred to as 'The New Kinematograph'58 This was advertised again in the same paper on 6 March, as 'The Latest Kinematograph'59 However. an advertisement in the issue for 24 April names the machine as the Eragraph. So, as has already been suggested, this apparatus is probably the one represented in the Barnes Collection by the incomplete mechanism shown in illustration 32. The  advertisement for 6 March quotes the price of the apparatus as £36, completed, but a few weeks later it is being offered, with one film, for £25.6.2 The same advertisement also mentions a 'Home Student's
Cinematograph, complete with one film, @ £3.8.3. A further advertisement of 14 August informs us that the Eragraph was now being shown at upwards of twenty principal theatres and music halls in the  country.
The regular Eragraph, or Model N° 2, is probably the subject of patent application no 20296, dated 3 September. This too was granted provisional protection only and so of course, not published. But it obviously relates to the machine advertised in The Era on 4 December, as the  New Model Eragraph'65 and which we have already described. Both the patent applications mentioned were submitted under the names of  George Urry and Haydon & Urry Ltd., which suggests that it was Urry who was chiefly
responsible for the technical side of the partnership. According to an advertisement originally from Italy, or so it was believed. For the week commencing 12 July, we have a Signor Polverini presenting a series of films at the London Pavilion. The principal items on the programme were those representing portions of the recent Jubilee procession, but among the other films shown was one which the correspondent of The Era described as reproducing a 'Pepper's Ghost' illusion, in which an individual in medieval attire is annoyed by various suddenly-appearing spectres." Obviously this is a reference to the Milits film The  Haunted Castle (Le Chateau Hanti) at that time available in England from Philip Wolff. On Friday, 1st July, Signor Polverini presented, in addition to the Jubilee films, one of Henley Regatta showing the Eton College eight beating Leander. But what was so remarkable about this performance was the fact that the race had only taken place that day. We have reason to believe that the credit for this feat
belongs not to Signor Polverini, but to Haydon & Urry, who are known to have filmed the event,
and also to have supplied the London Pavilion with their Eragraph projector.87
Commendable as this achievement surely is, it was not the only instance of a topical event being filmed and screened on the same day, as we shall see when discussing the filming of the Jubilee in chapter 8. I have not determined the exact duration of Polverini's engagement at the London Pavilion, but it was for at least six weeks, and throughout this period the films of the Jubilee continued to provoke an enthusiastic response from the audience." This same theatre today, is still showing films, and the neon signs which for so long have disfigured the front of this handsome Piccadilly theatre have recently been removed and the facade restored to its former splendour.
Exhibitors of films were a mixed bunch in those days, and the most unlikely persons were engaged in their presentation. Le Clair for instance, combined his troupe of  trained fox terrier dogs with a  cinematograph performance. During the first week in July his double act was to be seen at the Empire, Pontypridd in Wales, and later in the year at the Victoria Theatre, Morley, Yorkshire, and Roscommon,
Liverpool, by which time he had acquired R. W. Paul's improved cinematograph. Users of  Paul's  earlier Theatrograph were J. H. Gee of 14 Regent Road, Hanley, Staffordshire; Frank Haywood, at High Street, Falmouth; and E. H. Page at the Lyceum, Blackburn. At the same time Percival Craig's Cinematograph was advertised at the Coliseum Theatre, Rawtenstall, Lancashire, but it is not known what apparatus he used. E. J. Dale, a well-known illusionist of the day, presented a programme  of Jubilee films in August, at the Imperial Victorian Exhibition, held at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham.
His apparatus was referred to as the Animatoscope, the name by which Ottway's projector was known. In the same month, Matt Raymond was exhibiting the Cinématographe Lumière, one of the few recorded instances of its use by a showman since its availability on the English market. It was used too, in an advertising campaign mounted by Lever Brothers and Nestlé, and the novelty of the enterprise was
remarked upon in The Era: "A novel and interesting form of advertising has been adopted by Lever
Brothers, of Port Sunlight, and the proprietors of Nestlé Milk. These two firms gave a high-class entertainment on Monday I I November, at the Assembly Rooms of the Agricultural Hall, Norwich, consisting of animated pictures thrown upon a screen by the Cinématographe Lumière. In the series the Sunlight Soap washing competition alternates with a bull-fight in Andalusia, driving cows into  Nestlé's milk factory, and the Diamond Jubilee Procession. The entertainment was under the direction of Mr. A. Spencer Clarke.

On the 8th December a similar programme was  presented at a meeting at Croydon

Ref.: Optician, vol. 13 (19 August 1897) p385.
28 Marines at Vaulting Horse Exercise (November) [N-F]

Ref The Era, 13 November 1897, p 19.
EdisoniP Ltd
H.R.H. The Prince of Wales on Board his Yacht Britannia (5 August) (N]

Ref. The Era, 28 August 1897, p 29.
F. Havud
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Procession (22 June) [N] 75ft
The Queen's Carriage

Ref. The Era, 10 July, 1897, p 25.
Haydon & Urry Ltd
The Derby (2 June) [N] 75ft

Ref. The Era, 5 June 1897, p 29.
Alexander Park Racecourse and Paddock (19 June) [N]

Ref. The Era, 21 August 1897, p 16.
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Procession (22 June) [N] 450ft
Series of six films, each 75ft

Ref. The Era, 3 July 1897, p 7
Royal Henley Regatta (14 July) [N) 756ft
a. Grand Challenge Cup (Leander v Dutch)
b. Ladies Challenge Plate (Emanuel v Christchurch)
c. Review of Boats
d. Small Boats passing under Henley Bridge
e. New College, Oxford crew at Landing Stage
f. Arrival of Eton Crew at the Landing Stage
Each 75ft

Ref. The Era, 17 July 1897, pp 17 and 26
Cornish Coast and Sea (August) [N-F]

Ref. The Era, 21 August 1897, p 16.
Funeral Procession of  the actor William Terriss (21 December) [N] 75ft
Terris met his death by assassination on 16 December. He was buried at Brompton Cemetery.

Ref. The Era, 1 January 1898, p 36 (a)
W. C. Hughes
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Procession (22 June) [N] 2,000ft

Ref. The Era, 3 July 1897, p 7.
Jubilee - The Queen's Carriage and Escort (22 June) [N] 120ft. Shorter version 75ft

Ref. The Era, 3 July 1897, p 7.
London Stereoscopic Co
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Procession (22 June)
a. The Queen's Carriage
b. Royal Princes
c. Colonial Troops

Ref.: Optician, vol. 13 (19 August 1897) p385.


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