WebFind: Exploring the Barnes Museum of Cinematography, St Ives, Cornwall in the 1970s

Film ephemera collector John Barnes takes a Westward TV presenter on a tour of the Barnes Museum of Cinematography that was once in St. Ives

Film ephemera collector John Barnes takes a Westward TV presenter on a tour of the Barnes Museum of Cinematography that was once in St. Ives

The Barnes Collection is a collection of film apparatus and ephemera relating to pioneering Victorian filmmakers from Brighton and Hove. It was purchased by Hove Museum & Art Gallery in 1997 with money from the Headley Trust and the Friends of Hove Museum.

The collection was bought from collectors John and William Barnes, who were identical twins, which was previously housed at their Barnes Museum of Cinematography in St. Ives, Cornwall – and that’s where I remember seeing at least some of it, as I grew up in the seaside town.

Located in Fore Street, it was right opposite the chemists where I sued to get my Instamatic-shot photographs developed… yes, another technology that might mystify some today, jusy like the contents of the museum!

YouTube channel Horipet has posted a documentary about the original museum. John Barnes takes the Westward TV reporter (possibly the much-loved Kenneth MacLeod, but there are no credits) around the museum, a wonderful visual guide to early cinema and cinematic techniques.


The Barnes Collection today includes a variety of equipment and ephemera relating to Victorian film pioneers local to Brighton and Hove. These filmmakers were known as the Brighton School and includes James WilliamsonGeorge Albert Smith, Alfred Darling, Charles Urban and William Friese-Greene.

Equipment on display includes Williamson’s Aerial camera, which was used for reconnaissance during the first half of the twentieth-century, and Alfred Darling’s Biokam.

Along with film equipment, the Barnes Collection incorporates a large variety of ephemera including cabinet photographs, carte-de-visite photographs, theatre programmes, catalogues, articles, books, episcope cards and Victorian postcards.

There’s more details here on the Hove Musuem & Art Gallery web site – but you don’t get the tour from the man with the amazingly “plumy” voice!

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1 reply

  1. Ah yes – Westward Television, with the sailing ship station ident. I remember the sudden choice of a local commercial TV station when I went home to my parents’ place in Buckfastleigh in the early 1960s.

    A rather pedestrian tour of the museum, but every word could be easily heard – from both the interviewer and the interviewee. And I learned from it. Pity ‘plummy’ spoke of “a phenomena”. Cut!

    Reading about Westward, I found the actress Tamar le Bailly, star of Maggie’s Moor. A stage name? But in Hay on Wye there is “le Bailly Tamara Antiques “. At least not “le Bailly Wye Antiques”. To thine own river be true.

    Thank you, John, for 26 minutes of TV nostalgia.

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