An acclaimed filmmaker visited the Odyssey Cinema in St Albans last month for the unveiling of a new blue plaque.
On Friday, October 6, Jan Harlan, Stanley Kubrick’s film producer and brother-in-law, unveiled the plaque for beloved St Albans filmmaker Arthur Melbourne-Cooper.
Arthur was a photographer and filmmaker, born in St Albans in 1874, and is best known for his pioneering work in stop-motion animation. He is also known for setting up the documentary company Kinema Industries, which famously shot the 1913 derby where suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of the King’s horse.
Arthur also opened Hertfordshire’s first cinema, Alpha Picture House, on London Road in 1908. The building was designed by local architect Percival Blow and included a restaurant, a salon and a swimming pool.
When the building was destroyed by fire, a new cinema was erected on the site. Following its closure in 1995, and after a campaign which saw funds raised through public donations, the building was restored. It reopened in 2014 as the Odyssey, which is now the home of a blue plaque commemorating Arthur.
Speaking before the unveiling, Professor Tim Boatswain, chair of Blue Plaques St Albans, said: “This is the 10th blue plaque we have installed and we are most grateful to all those who support us through their donations.
“We are absolutely delighted that Jan Harlan, who helped produce Stanley Kubrick’s iconic films and is a member of a family associated with St Albans, was our guest of honour at the installation of the blue plaque.
“We hope this tribute to Arthur Melbourne-Cooper will mean that his contribution to film-making will be better understood.”
Photo credit The Odyssey Cinema St Albans