The Shoreham Cine and Miniature Camera Club was started in the late 1950’s by local retailer Paul Plumb. He gathered a group of friends & advertised in the local press to form the cine club. Paul had a shop in Shoreham & was very well known for his enthusiasm about life in general. The response he got was quite amazing, in the region of 60 people were interested in becoming members.
Incidentally, the club’s name “miniature camera” referred to the newly available 35mm film still cameras – both rangefinder and later SLRs.
Meetings were held in a small room in Ham Road, or occasionally in a room above the bar of the Kings Head in the High Street. This wasn’t ideal and when an opportunity arose to purchase a derelict beach cafe / hut the members jumped at the chance.
They carefully demolished the 40′ x 15′ wooden building at Littlehampton then transported it to Ropetackle and re-built it on a plot leased from Shoreham Urban District Council. It was lovingly made into a cinema with kitchen/projection one end & the screen plus electrically operated curtains at the other end. Members brought their own chairs initially but cinema style seating was eventually installed.
As befits a cine club the members recorded the events and the above film shows the reconstruction alongside the river wall alongside the town’s mortuary. The film continues with the popular launch party in the hut, with many members enjoying the opening night. The film is silent, but may well be of interest as a record of the time.
One day a lorry was negotiating the roundabout by Pauls shop in the High Street when the load became loose. It deposited half a load of plasterboard around the roundabout & over the pavements. Paul being the business man quickly noted the phone number on the lorry & made a deal with the owner to purchase the damaged boards. They became the lining & the ceiling of the Clubhouse & helped to make the building a little more cosy.
During this period Paul Plumb and members set out to direct & produce many films, but perhaps most notable were the social records they made of the town. Two 90 minute films made by Paul Plumb are most memorable, showing two separate years of events in Shoreham. They were named “Shoreham Peeps” (1962) and “A River Runs Through Our Town” (1962). Both were seen by very large audiences on a three night run each year.
At one Town Hall screening there were many films shown including a comedy short from one of the members entitled “The Rescue” (c1968) – filmed in and around the High Street and starring David Hamilton. It is a fascinating view of the heart of busy Shoreham in the late 1960’s. That film has been rescued from the archive and put online for the first time here:
Disaster struck in October 1976 when their HQ hut was wrecked by fire and there was no hope of repair. So in December Shoreham Cine Club had to move on from Ropetackle and relocated to Sompting holding their meetings at Sompting Village Hall. The club continued there until the late 80s. A number of former members moved on to start their own club, concentrating on the then emerging video technology. That club continues today as the South Downs Film Makers.
Paul Plumb eventually hung up his tape measure and cine camera and retired to Mid-Wales, returning to Shoreham in later years. He died in 2012.
Article created by Paul Osborne 2020 with images and text from Brian Mertens and South Downs Film Makers