Hale’s Tours of the World

Source: untitled, The Rinking World & Picture Theatre News, 25 December 1909, p. 14

Text: ‘Hale’s Tours of the World,’ in Oxford Street, hard by Messrs. Gilbey & Co.’s Pantheon, are at once the oldest-established and the most educative of all London’s picture shows. Nothing approaching them has in our day been designed or so effectively carried out. Time was when Hamilton’s Diarama’s were all the rage; these have no worthily supplanted them. Seated in a veritable Pullman car, which appears to be travelling on the ever-present metals through mountainous scenery, over bridges, across vast prairie lands, or Eastern deserts, as the case may be, the illusion is perfect. Not the slightest suspicion of cinematograph lantern rays have the quasi-travellers, for the reason that the views are thrown on the screen from a great distance behind … The conductor of the Pullman Car, who snips the tickets, lectures pleasantly all the time, though in the darkness he remains unseen. Moreover, throughout the imaginary journey, the travellers are treated to pervading sounds as well as sights. The shrill whistle of locomotive and steamboat, the fearsome syren [sic] of an ocean greyhound, the roar of falling waters or tossing sea waves, the pattering of rain, the rolling of thunder, and the shouts of people add a keen zest to the excursion. From a chat with Mr S.B. French, the Secretary, we learned that his company have a contract with the New South Wales Government for the regular supply of films, and also that their operating representatives enjoy a free run on the great American railroads, and on certain British railway systems.

Comments: Hale’s Tours of the World was an entertainment which placed the audience in a replica of a railway carriage, with a film taken from the front of a moving train projected onto a screen at the front of the carriage. The carriage rocked to and fro, there were sound effects, and the conductor served a lecturer to explain the films and the experience. It was invented by the American George Consider Hale and the first Hale’s Tours in Britain opened in London’s Oxford Street in May 1906. It was arguably the first cinema in London (the Daily Bioscope near Liverpool Street station opened the same month), hence the reference to it being the ‘oldest-established’ of London’s picture shows.

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