Cinema and more

Church army recreation hut, YMCA hut and Cinema hut (left to right). Photo credit 14.  Creative Commons license CC BY-NC.

Church army recreation hut, YMCA hut and Cinema hut (left to right).
Photo credit 14.  Creative Commons license CC BY-NC.

‘I went to Brighton on Sunday, we can go to the aquarium there free, and it’s worth looking round . . . there are all kinds of fish in there and sea flowers, and it is wonderful how they keep them like they do.  The[y] are in places like shop windows full of salt water…’

Edmund Goodchild, 17th November 1914. (Quote credit 2).

Concerts, comedy, classes and sports were complimented by trips to the town, airplane rides, cinema and more.

In 1914, when the recruits first arrived, they would often travel to the local towns in their free time. Visits to the aquarium in Brighton, the chocolate shops and, of course, the cinema were ever popular.

Back in Camp, the YMCA and Salvation Army had tents and later huts where they provided comforts for the troops, somewhere to read, write and relax as well as hosting many of the entertainments.

‘[In the YMCA tent] Every day about a thousand cups of tea and coffee are supplied and twelve hundred letters and cards are written and posted . . .’

2nd Dec 1914 Worthing Gazette p6. (Quote credit 3).

The YMCA also hosted a cinema hut in Camp in the later years. Initially, there had been a cinema tent and even a company, Shoreham Camp Cinema Ltd., in Camp until 1916 when the company collapsed. This area of the South coast was an important location for the film industry in the early 20th century and there were cinemas all around the towns such as the Dome in Worthing. The young men would take their ladies to see films like the famous serial, the Iron Claw (or Laughing Mask), featuring Pearl White.

Watch Part two.

The opening times of the cinemas caused a great deal of controversy in Worthing. The local magistrates banned Sunday pictures despite numerous appeals from Shoreham Camp. The magistrates felt Sunday pictures would encourage bad behaviour but the Camp leaders and the local police argued it would keep the soldiers out of the pubs and off the streets. After many appeals, in 1917, the magistrates finally conceded to Sunday openings in Worthing in Spring 1918 for one year only.

Read about Worthing’s Dreadful Cinemas.

The men in the camp were also featured on film doing gymnastics exercises, training and, of course, boxing.

Aerial postcard of Shoreham-by-Sea

Early aerial photograph of Shoreham on postcard, taken by Cecil Pashley.
Photo credit 17.  Creative Commons license CC BY-NC.

For the adventurous, there was even the opportunity to ride in one of the airplanes out of Shoreham airport which was right next to their Camp, although not every soldier liked the idea.

‘It is very interesting to watch the airplanes sometimes.  I see one the other day above the clouds we could just see it go past the clear spaces then all at once it came out of the clouds right straight to the ground, just like a bird.  I have seen one loop the loop, it looks very dangerous from the ground.  They take passengers up for 15s, us they charge 5s.  If they let me go for nothing I wouldn’t go…’

Edmund Goodchild, 10th November 1914. (Quote Credit 2).



Key Sources: Courtesy of Henry Finch
Fisher, D. 2012 Cinema-by-SeaFilm and Cinema in Brighton & Hove since 1896 Brighton: Terra Media Ltd.
National Archives. 2015 The National Archives: Discovery [online] Available at: <>  [Accessed 22 February 2015].
West Sussex Gazette, Worthing Gazette and Horsham Times. Accessed at Worthing Library, Courtesy of West Sussex County Council Library Service