I’ve linked to British Pathe before but thought I’d mention these two items in the Clubs and Cabaret sequence , as they are of particular relevance.
In 1933 Pathe’s Eve “magazine” ran a series on Outer London Clubs – these included the Bell at Beaconsfield, The Ace of Clubs off the Kingston By-Pass and the Showboat at Maidenhead.
The one I’ve chosen is the Hungaria River Club at Maidenhead. As stated in earlier posts Maidenhead and Bray were very much part of the West End scene and, in the summer months especially, were popular weekend destinations for both Mayfair and Showbusiness types. The centre of the British Movie business was around there, which gave an added glamour to these excursions.
It’s an excellent clip even if it does feature the obligatory female contortionist. Pathe was obsessed with them, for obvious reasons. If you only had the newsreels to go on, you would imagine that folk mainly went to Night Clubs to witness these acts (mind you, some possibly did).
The Hungaria was pretty upmarket, and I presume it was owned by the very fashionable Hungaria Restaurant in Regent’s Street. I’m also assuming it’s the old Murray’s River Club under new management. The underlit glass dance floor and the setting look right. Jack May, who ran Murray’s (based in Beak Street) had apparently been deported in 1930 – although a respected and long-established figure on the London club scene he had a reputation as a drug-dealer and something of a gangster.
Anyhow, the Hungaria looks very respectable. The outdoor swimming pool is very 30s rather than 20s and there are the requisite celebrities in attendance. Note a rare glimpse of Eric Maschwitz, who would shortly write the two most achingly beautiful “Mayfair” ballads, “These Foolish Things” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” . The blonde “starlet” is Jean Colin, much seen on stage and screen at the time. Claude Hulbert was, to me anyway, the unaccountably popular “silly ass” type in innumerable British films of the 1930s. Like his brother Jack, he was an early example of a career founded on success with the “Cambridge Footlights”
The “Maurice” who leads the orchestra might possibly Maurice “The Sweetest Sound This Side of Heaven” Winnick, a society favourite but is more probably the lesser-known Maurice Raymond.
A number of London clubs opened out-of-town venues in the period. The most prestigious was the Hotel De Paris at Bray. Fausto Stocco and Martin Poulsen, proprietor and Maitre D’ respectively of the Cafe De Paris, launched it in 1928. They also had Poulsen’s Club at nearby Datchet. The Hotel De Paris was suitably exclusive and offered the same acts that played the Coventry Street venue. There’s a nice piece on its history here, complete with a marvellous brochure from the 1950s. I doubt Elvira stayed there, as she had her own weekend cottage close at hand, but she would certainly have sampled its delights.
The other clip I want to post is from Ciro’s in 1932. Again there is too much time devoted to the Cabaret but you get a good picture of the seating arrangements and the clientele (Elvira was a member).The Matelots and general French theme is very much of its time but the best bit is the fashion parade, which is very evocative.
Finally, for no other reason except that it amuses me, here is an advert for “Pom” instant-potato made in 1946 by Claude Hulbert and his wife Enid Trevor (also in the earlier clip). I doubt that Pom would have gone down well at the Hotel De Paris or the Hungaria.