Notes from audio interview by Phil Windeatt, 10/07/12
Bectu History Project Interviews.
Fred Pugh. Interviewer Alan Lawson. 1.5.90.
Tape One Side One
Born July 27 1902. South Norwood. Ordinary school left at 14 on his birthday. Father died 1914. Went to Croydon Labour Exchange offered job in leather trade refused. Instead went along to the Clarendon Film Company with a mate. Dark room job for Fred. Friend became a cameraman’s assistant but left after 6 months to work in Billingsgate fish market. Mr H.V. Lawley gave Fred his job. Bert Russell foreman. Turning film around, flat frames, drying room.
6 shillings a week. 8 to 6. 8 to1 on Saturdays. 50 hour week. Gave his wage to his mother and got a shilling back. Rise to 8 shillings a week in 3mths. “Gradually rising to holding the leather…”
B/w film but night scenes died blue. Became a Film Stainer. Day amber, pink for sunsets and brown. They mixed their own solutions. Various acids used. Became Positive Developer. Rapid strides because of the war. £2 12s 6d per week. What films did fred develop? “cant remember”. Didn’t keep a record, wish he had. “It was just work but that was wrong”. Company takeover by the Harmer Film Co. He was a “timid boy… never pushed myself forward, I would have gone further”. Didn’t want to but received 3d for appearing as an extra in 1916 in “The Happy Wanderer”. Saw in cinema and audience member mentions him. “I had to register anger”. Company closed down. Out of work. Left South Norwood. Went around film companies on his bike but they were one-man shows. Lived in Hoxton with his Uncle. Job at Williamsons in High Barnet. Circa 1922 had intvw with Jack Brown. £2 per week. Cycled from Hoxton to High barnet or caught steam train. “Developing and drying side”.
1924. Went to work at Strange’s Charing Cross Road. Job working on the Lawley developing machine. Worked on “Anthony Adverse” (?) a 16 reeler. “Topical Budget” newsreel. Worked there for 20 yrs. Did Central Office for Information work and for the Services. He was a reserved occupation. Did “Food Flashes” Eat more potatoes!
Went to British Paramount News starting up new newsreel at East Acton around 1942/3. Making prints and work for other newsreels (pooling of resources in wartime). £7 10s a week. Joins union but wage lowered due to no bonus scheme. Paramount “dwindled” and all sacked. Redundancy? “not sure”. Fred contacted Humphries Labs for a job and became a Grader there until he retired.
Fred teetotaller, retired at 65 and three-quarters. Worked for 13 years at Humphries who gave him £1 redundancy for every year he was there. Had contact with producers and editors. Worked on a 2 reeler “Jenny” about a “spastic girl”. Also a film for Desmond. Personal interest in stills photography. Never went onto colour at Humphries. Most satisfaction? “developing positive at Strange’s… if it looked nice it was like I was the cameraman, that was lovely!”.
“You cannot buy chemicals anymore to up make your own juice”. Disappointments? “I can’t remember any disappointments…” Fred Harris at Humphries was a perfectionist. He would view all the rushes and they would be done again if not happy with them. “More like release prints than rushes…”
“No active role in ACTT”.