Thursday 24 January 2019


'Wedding Bells' (1938)
Please click on the button to see the film

by Dave Roberts

Nowadays, of course, practically everyone has a wedding video made when they get married, but seventy-four years ago a filmed record of your wedding (even a small part of it) was comparatively rare.

Members of the Mid-Cheshire Amateur Cinematography Society, though, were lucky.

Not only did they have cameras and film to hand (mostly from Eachus Bros in Northwich, who were members of the society themselves), but there was also no shortage of willing volunteers to make the film.

Thus this precious record of a Middlewich wedding comes down to us through the years (by a happy accident, actually, as was the case with all the films in the Roberts Collection - they were all destined to be binned when my Uncle Bill was clearing his house in Mill Lane in the 1970s, until I asked if I could have them).

It's May 21st 1938 and Uncle Bill (Mr William G Oakes) is marrying Auntie Winnie (Miss Winifred Roberts) at St Michael & All Angels Church in Middlewich.

In the background the town goes about its daily business as usual - we can see workmen giving Hulme's grocery shop (now the Accord Clinic) a new coat of paint, but most people stop to take a look at the bride and groom and assembled guests as they arrive at the church gate.

Note the cheeky little chappie in the cap who is ready, willing and able to open car doors for everyone.

You'll also notice that the iron railings which ran along the top of the church wall were still in place in this last full year of uneasy peace.

When war came in September 1939 those railings were carted away for the war effort.

There are brief glimpses of the Town Hall and adjacent shops as the wedding cars drive up Hightown (interestingly, travelling in the same direction as present day traffic - the road was probably two-way in those days).

Half way through the film the scene suddenly changes and we find ourselves in a beautiful garden in King Street for some scenes in full colour.

Colour film was quite rare before the war, particularly for amateur use.

This was around the time that Kodachrome was introduced and we know that Eachus Bros were stocking it right from the start.

The MCACS would be keen to try out the new film, and what could be better than a wedding as a subject?

The garden seen here stood between King Street and the alleyway which runs behind New King Street (where the Roberts family lived at the time).

By the time the next generation of Roberts' moved from Nantwich Road to 27 (later 33) King Street - just across the road - twenty years later, this lovely garden was derelict and overgrown and remained so for many years until a bungalow was built on the site quite recently.

In fact, at the time of filming, 27 King Street itself was yet to be built. Work started on its construction in 1939

After some good-natured and rather self-conscious fooling around for the camera, the wedding party move to that same alleyway at the rear of the Roberts house where the wedding cake is on view,

A very short but very poignant film, made more so, we'd like to think,  by the music we chose to accompany it.

It's not, perhaps, an obvious choice for a film about a wedding, but I think the music makes the images seem even more wistful and yearning, emphasising the fact that the scenes seen here were shot many many years ago, just before the world was once again to experience the horrors of war.

Remarkably, neither the film nor the music needed to be edited in any way (except for the insertion of a music credit caption lasting one second) to make them fit together.

The way they do match, particularly during the closing title sequence is quite spooky.

It's almost as if music and film had been waiting nearly three quarters of a century to be united.

In fact, given that the music was written in 1838, you could call that an even century.

We recommend that you watch the film on Youtube by clicking on the link below


Or here's another chance to watch it right here

'Wedding Bells' (1938)
Please click on the button to see the film

Original comments:

Chris Koons What a strange place to cut the cake - in the alleyway?

Dave Roberts Yes, and just across the road from where your Mum and Dad live, too.

First published 4th May 2012
1st Revised version published 6th May 2019

2nd Revised version published 8th May 2012

Re-formatted and re-published 21st January 2019
and 24th January 2019

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