Early this year I looked up and contacted a chap called Ray Johnson who is a well- known local film archivist and asked if he had any footage of Smallthorne and explained that I was running a Smallthorne History Site. Ray said that he had recently been working on digitising some footage involving the carnival queens from the Victoria Methodist Chapel and agreed to let me have preview at a small charge.
Ray was busy with other projects when I contacted him again and an exchange of e-mails and phone calls led to us meeting at the Gladstone museum in Longton and Ray sold me a preview DVD for Smallthorne and a Burslem Saturdays DVD. At this meeting he suggested a Smallthorne themed night at his regular Wednesday slot at Stoke Film Theatre and eventually we fixed a date and managed to get a reasonable turnout from Smallthorne. This led to further discussion about a showing in Smallthorne itself and within a couple of weeks I had organised two dates, two venues and managed some great publicity through the websites and with a little help from our good friend Collette Warbrook at the Sentinel.
This is where the good people of Smallthorne then stepped up and we made Ray welcome and showed what a good turnout we can produce with two great audiences for the evening and daytime showings. Great feedback from those who watched the footage that Ray had put together but let’s not forget the interest generated locally and the interest shown by each and every person who attended and those that wanted to see it but could not get there.
The Sentinel have had two articles in since the showings and have given due credit to Ray Johnson and I applaud his efforts and hard work but I also applaud the good folk of the village for supporting us and the help of the people from both the community centre and Salem Chapel for being the unsung heroes. I covered the cost of the Hall rental and screen rental personally and kept both shows free but think we got a bargain with two great venues which I would recommend.
Smallthorne is now hopefully well and truly on the map and I hope that Ray and I can collaborate on the next steps including a request for a Smallthorne based film at Newford School, which I am in the process of arranging.
Well done Smallthorne