Harry Manley

Forename/s: 
Harry
Family name: 
Manley
Work area/craft/role: 
Industry: 
Interview Number: 
383
Interview Date(s): 
10 Jun 1996
Interviewer/s: 
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 
135
Access restrictions: 

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Interview
Transcript
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Side 1.

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A Summary of the HARRY MANLEY Interview. File 383. 

 

Born near Birkenhead in 1934. His father was a Funeral Director and the family lived above the premises.
Started school at the age of 5 attending the local church primary school at Port Sunlight model village - now a graded site.
Aged 7, he began at Birkenhead Prep. In 1942 his father was killed during the North African landings whilst serving in the 

Royal Navy. 

He left school at 16 with two *0' levels. His family insisted on him having a safe job and made him take the Civil 

Service examinations which resulted in him becoming a Clerical Officer. This led to an offer of a job with the Air Ministry in London in 1951. In 1952 he joined the RAF to do his National Service as a Clerk. He enjoyed the life, and at the age of 21, returned to the Air Ministry to work as a clerk in a secret 

department that dealt with Atomic weapons. Wages were about £7 per week. 

He had no particular interest in films but enjoyed visits to the cinema as a boy, although not encouraged by his parents.
He talks about the Ritz, Birkenhead, its double feature programmes and stage shows during the great days of the super cinemas. 

Whilst at the Air Ministry he began thinking seriously about 

doing more with his life and so he went to the library and looked 

up any professional occupation he could do without a degree, without taking articles, or without going to college. The only 

possibility was for him to become a Chartered Secretary. So he enrolled for a 3 year correspondence course, while, at the same 

time, changing his job. He joined a bombed-out City firm with 

^ offices in Great Portland Street, as a clerk. This was a 'business and confirming house', but he had no idea what that 

entailed. Within a month of joining, they moved into a new 

building in the City and he began thinking of a City career. He talks about the job which he enjoyed. He also managed to 

complete the correspondence course in two years; Rising at five in the mornings and studying until ten o'clock most evenings. It was 

hard work but he enjoyed it throughout the years 1956/59. 

He was now qualified and demanded a better job, but had to leave the firm at the end of the month with nothing in view. Several interviews later, he opted for Colour Film Services in Portman Close, off Baker Street and was interviewed by Roland Chase, the owner. Roland was dubious about employing a city gent who could have difficulties in getting on with people in the film industry. However, he was taken on with some trepidation, as Company Secretary at £750 a year, increasing to £1000 after 12 months.
He describes the firm's work and equipment. Originally, he decided to stay only 3 months, but retired from CFS as Group MD after 30 years! 

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He talks at length about the development of the company, and his role in it. Masked printing is discussed. The company 

continued to expand. Roland Chase had an engineering bent and was able to specify the design of equipment. The interview continues 

with a history of CPS. Side 2. 

Continues with the development of CPS. The development of the first colour tape to film transfer system resulted in the 

transfer of hundreds of episodes of CORONATION STREET, RAINBOW, and 

many other videotaped programmes - all very successful. Then came standards conversion, poor to begin with. 

CPS was one of the first video houses to become involved in VHS 

duplicating.
In 1965, Harry became Pinance Director and eventually, MD. 

The interview continues detailing the work of the development 

engineers, with Roland Chase pushing innovation to the limits and 

Harry looking after the finances. The staff numbers employed in the various departments are mentioned. Early dealings with ACT are covered, also the complex discussions on the possible takeover of Humphries Labs. 

Harry took retirement in 1989 to take advantage of the terms then available and Roland Chase was also retiring at this time and 

was very anxious for his son, David, to take over.
The history of professional 16mm. is discussed from its early 

beginnings as an amateur gauge. 

Harry recounts the story of how he became Treasurer of BKS - after being refused membership! 

Britain became the centre of the world for technical excellence in 1977 because of the political climate in Eastern Europe. He was 

now asked to be President of BKS but always arranged to have technical boffins at his side to answer high-tech questions!
There was talk of BKS and RTS merging at one time, and BAPTA, which had just acquired its magnificent HQ in Piccadilly, sat at the
table with both Societies with a view to having a merged Society, the RPTS, based there. BISPA is also mentioned.
Harry was invited to join the Board of BAPTA, having originally been turned down for membership! Another interesting story. 

Side 3.

Harry became Treasurer of BISPA and talks about the financial difficulties of the Society and its aims. The IVCA, of which he 

was Chairman, is also mentioned. He is also the Chief Executive of BAPTA. Harry is also a member of the Board of Pilm 

Classification which looks after the administration, but he is not involved with the actual classification of films or video. 

Another Directorship is that of the Children's Pilm Unit which he 

goes on to describe in great detail. Channel 4 commissions a feature from them every year and it is crewed entirely by children, 

with just one adult present. They also produce commissioned documentaries, all from their Putney workshop on Saturday mornings. Harry enthusiastically states that the discipline on the set is 

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phenomenal and the Unit turns out twice as much footage per day as an average professional adult crew! 

Harry joined the Board of BAFTA around 1980 when they took over the building. He also became Finance Director for a while. 

He recounts the early financial difficulties in relation to the 

occupation of the building and how close the Society came to the Bank putting in the Receivers. 

At the end of the interview he is persuaded to tell the very bizarre story of the David Martin affair. END. 

HARRY MANLEY was interviewed by JOHN LEGARD.
DAVID MATHER ROBSON recorded it and wrote the Summary. 

 

Biographical

Born in Merseyside where he spent all his early days until coming to Lonodn in early 50's. In Air Ministry as a clerk, did National Service in RAF and rejoined Air Ministry after National Service. Citty career until late 1950's when he joined Colour Film Services as Company Secretary. Retred 30 years later as Managing Director.  On boards of BISFA, BAFTA, IVCA