The Anima lodge

Too many topics and too little time. There are so many subjects I have tucked away for research at some time, but many of them I will never get round to tackling. So the best thing to do is to offer them up in their raw state here on The Bioscope, in the hope that they may interest someone else sufficiently to take up challenge.

A case in point is the Anima lodge. I’m unlikely ever to get to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, and indeed I would hardly know where to start, freemasonry being an entirely closed book to me. But the intriguing story nevertheless is that there was a British freemasonry lodge for those in the film business, and it was established in 1912. I have, from I know not where, a list of the subscribing members of the Lodge 1912-1920, and a fascinating document it is too.

These were the founder members (links are to the Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema and London Project websites):

  • Edward Thomas Heron [publisher of the Kinematograph Weekly]
  • J. Brooke Wilkinson [secretary of the Kinematograph Manufacturers’ Association and later of the British Board of Film Censors]
  • Edwin Houghton Rockett [inventor and general jack-of-all-trades]
  • Frederick Arton [managing director]
  • Francis William Baker [managing director of Butcher’s Film Service]
  • Will Day [film equipment supplier and later film historian]
  • Matt Raymond [Lumière operator, exhibitor, and future master of the Anima lodge]
  • W. Firth [not known]
  • George Henry Smith [British representative for Vitagraph Company of America]
  • James Charles Squier [can’t remember, involved in production]
  • Charles Urban [producer, particularly of Kinemacolor]
  • A. Pearl Cross [executive]
  • John Frank Brockliss [film distributor]

That’s a notable list of a few of the major figures in the British film business at that time. More joined in subsequent years – I’ll identify them where I can:

  • 1913 – Edward Henry Montagu [executive]
  • 1913 – Alexander Liddle
  • 1913 – E.H. Bishop [managing director]
  • 1913 – Walter Northam [executive with Provincial Cinematograph Theatres]
  • 1914 – H.S. Chambers
  • 1915 – Harold John Fisher
  • 1915 – Paul Kimberley [executive]
  • 1915 – Albert Simmons
  • 1915 – George Henry Saffell
  • 1916 – Reginald Charles Bromhead [executive with Gaumont company]
  • 1916 – Sidney Thornton Smurthwaite
  • 1917 – Thomas Arthur Welsh [producer]
  • 1917 – John Pearson
  • 1918 – John Charles Ernest Mason [cameraman]
  • 1918 – Solomon Gabriel Newman
  • 1919 – Robert Chetham
  • 1920 – Alfred G. Challis
  • 1920 – Edward Maxwell Heron
  • 1920 – Samuel Woolf Smith
  • 1920 – Ernest Edgar Blake [executive]
  • 1920 – E.W. Fredman
  • 1920 – Victor Sheridan
  • 1920 – Frederick Holmes Cooper [cameraman]
  • 1920 – George William Pearson [director]
  • 1920 – Chas. J. Miller
  • 1920 – Ernest Peall [executive]
  • 1920 – Lionel Phillips [distributor]

Well, there’s a fascinating line-up of the famous (in their small world, in their day) and the unknown. Figures like Urban, Wilkinson, Welsh, Kimberley, Pearson, Raymond and Heron were leading figures in the early British film business; many of the others were minor figures then, and are undoubtedly obscure now. What did the Anima lodge do? What advantages might it have brought to those who joined? How did the grand and the less-than-grand figures rub together? What alternative history of British silent cinema might some ingenious researcher draw from this line-up? Sadly, I cannot even tell you when the Anima lodge closed – if it ever closed. Perhaps it lingers somewhere. Someone will know.

Anyone who can identify the roles of the names I haven’t been able to identify, please let me know.

31 responses

  1. An amazing list of names, Luke. When researching Will Day, I did manage to get to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry and very helpful they were too. I had citations to two documents which were listed in their catalogue:

    Heron, Edward Thomas. The Twenty-First Anniversary Celebration of the Anima Lodge, No. 3634 : 1933 (London, 1933).

    Curry, B. J., and B. M. Charman. The Anima Lodge, No. 3634 : 1912 – 1962 (London, 1962).

    They copied these for me, and somewhere I have the copies, but can’t lay my hands on them now. There are lists of names, probably including some of those you list. When I find this material I’ll post again.
    As Luke says, a fascinating research project for someone. In fact, maybe someone should make a database of the names of people involved in the early British film industry?

  2. So it lasted until 1962 at least. Maybe it does still linger somewhere. I think there may have been some sort of association with the Cinema Veterans Society (which still continues as Cinema and Television Veterans, though the original stipulation that members had to have been in the film industry since 1903 has altered just a little). That’s because I found the Anima list included with a Cinema Veterans menu from the early 1920s. Anyway, please do pass on any more information if you find it.

    I agree that a database of names would be useful. The London Project database partly serves such a function, with the large number of names it has of directors, managers, shareholders and such like. But the full works… well, someone may do one day, though I’d rather see The Bioscope (the original journal, that is) or the Kinematograph Weekly digitised and word-searchable. Plans to make either happen have failed so far, but it’ll get done one day.

  3. Indeed Anima Lodge, Number 3634 in the register of the United Grand Lodge of England, still exists and is approaching its centenary, which is how I found your information (for which many thanks) as I am researching lodge history.

    For information, we are no longer directly associated with the Industry, else we may have died out in the 1950’s & 60’s, but we supported the Cinematographic & Allied Trades Benevolent fund when I joined (in 1979) until very recently and funded a “room” at their supported rest home. We still “toast” the “Veterans of the Film Industry”, though we only have one left to respond to it.

    Our origins are still shown in our Banner which depicts the lady holding the lamp which was the badge of one of the early film studios (sorry, I’ve forgotten which one, though I really ought to remember!). We still meet 4 times a year in St. James’s Street, London and hopefully will do so for many years to come.

    Again, thank you for a wonderful and very useful insight into our early members!

    Dr. Derek J. Oliver
    Anima Lodge No. 3634

  4. Thank you so much for having got in touch. I’m delighted that the Anima lodge continues, albeit with a changed membership, and that my post was so timely. I ought to know whose trademark is the lady with a lamp, but it’s escaped me too. If I can help with any further information, do let me know.

    Here’s to the Veterans of the Film Industry.


  5. Me again, still researching Anima Lodge history! I have now discovered that in 1919, members of the Industry in Scotland formed another Anima Lodge in Glasgow and that still exists too!

    As Anima (London) was once closely associated with Anima (Glasgow) – several of our members were “Honorary” members there – I pl;an to get in touch and invite them to our own Centenary celebrations.

    If I can get any details of their early members from the Scottish cinema industry, I’ll let you know!.


    Dr. Derek J. Oliver

  6. Great news. You should get in touch with the Scottish Screen Archive, where they have gathered quite a bit of information on Scottish film pioneers (I’ll send you contact details by email).


  7. ran across your website the other day .very interesting i myself was master of lodge anima glasow at the millenium 1999-2000 if i may be of any assistance please let me know

    yours fraternally

  8. Thanks for getting in touch. My personal interest is in the Anima Lodge in its earliest years, but I have been delighted to find that not only does the English branch still thrive, but that – as I have recently learned – a Scottish lodge existed also. I have passed on the information to some with a special interest in Scottish film history.

  9. I was very pleased to come across your website.

    I was the Master of Lodge Anima Glasgow No. 1223 in 1978/79 and again in 2003/04, and i am a Past Substitute Provincial Grand Master in the Province of Glasgow.

    Lodge Anima Glasgow was chartered on 5th August 1920. Most of it’s founder members were employed in the cinema trade i.e. cinema owners, film travellers, musical directors, film renters etc.

    Among the 63 founder members were 6 brethern from London; M.A. Dent, J Connor, A Pearl Carrr, Wilfred Ernest Lynton Day, Ernest Wilson, and Edwin H Rockett, whom I believe was the then IPM of Lodge Anima London.

    The first Master was Robert Scott a member of Lodge St Anrews Glasgow No. 465.

    Also among the founder members was AE Pickard, and accentric millionaire. The lodge initially met in the afternoon and consequin in it’s earlier years attracted members from the variety world, a few footballers as well as brethren from the cinema trade. Probably one of our most famous member was Jack Short, otherwisw known as Jimmy Logan.

    It is no surprise that Lodge Anima Glasgow was so vibrant in its early days given that outwith the USA Glasgow had more cinemas per head of population than any other city in the world – with more than 130 cinemas in its heyday.

    There are now 80 Lodges in the City of Glasgow, the biggest Province under the Scottish constitution. Scottish Fremasonry like Freeemasonry all over the world is not as active as it was several decades ago, but nonetheless Lodge Anima Glasgow as well as a number of other lodges in the Province, is doeing very well, and is alive and vibrant.

    The brethern of the lodge were very pleased to received the recent correspondence from Lodge Anima in London about their celebration event a couple of years hence, and are anxious to visit your lodge within the next year. Could you please state the dates and times of your next 4 meetings.

    Lodge Anima Glasgow has had a number visits over earlier years from brethern from Lodge Anima in New South Wales Australia and I am sure that they too might be interested in attending your future celebration event. Perhaps if you contact them we might see 3 Lodge Animas at the Event. That certainly would be something.

  10. I’m very interested to hear from you, and to learn just how flourishing the Anima Lodge in Scotland was. However, I have nothing to do with freemansonry myself – I’m merely a film historian. But I am in touch with someone at the London lodge, and I’ll contact you away from the blog with more details.

  11. Fraternal greetings from London!

    “Urbanora” has my contact details as a Past Master of Anima London (1988 & 2004) and the researcher of our history for the centenary celebrations. I am glad to hear from both Gavin and James and would like to correspond and arrange visits in both directions! I also get to the Antipodes on occasions and have visited Lodges in Canberra and Papua New Guinea so ant contact with Anima in New South Wales would be useful.

    I have not yet heard from the Lodge Anima (Glasgow) Secretary and look forwartd to a more formal communication too.

    Many thanks to “Urbanora” for putting us in touch, and apologies to the “general reader” for tuning this excellent “blog” into a Masonic discussion!

    Derek J. Oliver, SLGR, PPAGDC (Essex)

  12. To Urbonora: As I said in my previos note, Glasgow played a very active part and was at the forefront of the rise of cinema. As a consequence there are cinema archives in Glasgow which may be of interest to you. My understanding is that they are held at The Glasgow Film Theatre at 12 Rose Street Glasgow (Tel: 0141 332 8128).

    Glasgow still retains pride of place in the world of cinemagers hence the reason UGG built a muliplex cinema with 18 screens, over 11 floors in Renfiels Street Glasgow city centre in 2004, making it the biggest cinema complex in the world. The multiplex was build on the former site of the Apollo Theatre, previously Greens Playhouse, which was at one time the biggest cinema in Europe.

    Lodge Anima No. 421 (Petersham) New South Wales Australia was founded in 1922, again by masons from the motion picture industry. I am sure that they are also likely to have some information in their archives which might be of interest to you.

    To Derek J Oliver: One of our members attended a meeting in Lodge Anima in Australia last year so he may have a name and address that I can share with you. If that fails you will be able to obtain a contact via your Grand Lodge who must have a name and address of a contact in the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales.

    I have shared the details of my contact with you with our lodge secretary, Anthony John Evans, who will formally reply to your earlier letter.

    Lodge Anima Glasgow No. 1223 meets at the masonic temple at 101 Clifford Street, Ibrox, Glasgow on the first Wednesday of each month, except July and August when we are in recess. The installation meeting is normally the second Saturday in February. Visitors are always most welcome.

    at your next meeting, could I ask you to convey fraternal greetings to your brethren of your lodge from Andrew Warnock RWM, and brethren of Lodge Anima Glasgow No.1223.

  13. iam the rwm of lodge anima 1223 i have just found the website and enjoyed reading all the comments we hope to be visiting lodge anima london sometime in september and look forward to cementing the friendship of the two lodges back together again meantime i send fraternal greetings to your worshipfull master office beares and your breathern from all the breathern at lodge anima 1223

  14. My grandfather, William Welsh, was the Founding Depute Master of Lodge Anima # 1223. He was with Pathe at the time. It was interesting to see the name of “Thomas Arthur Welsh in the List for the UGLE “Anima”. He does not appear on my records as family, but it is possible, I suppose.

    Interesting discussion, Gentlemen, Ladies and Brethren.

  15. Tommy Welsh was a notable figure in the British film business in its early years. He joined the Gaumont company in 1898 and became one of its leading managerial figures, then through the 1920s ran his own film company, Welsh-Pearson. He was Scottish.

  16. Re – Stebo’s posting of 19/12/2007

    I was interested to read that you were researching Will Day. He was my grandfather and I wondered why you were researching him, what you came up with and whether you have published anything. If so I should very much like to obtain a copy of it if at all possible. As he died in 1936 it is likely that you know more about him than I do so any information you might be able to give me would be greatly appreciated.
    Stephen Fenn

  17. I’m the editor of this site – I’ll forward your message to Stebo (Stephen Bottomore) as he may not spot it otherwise. He is very much the authority on Will Day – there’s an example of his writing here:

    It’s very interesting to hear from a descendant of Day, who is an important figure in film history, not least for the collection of papers and equipment that he gathered, now held by the Cinémathèque Française.

  18. Thank you very much. I actually visited the Cinematheque Francais on Saturday and the Director Monsieur Manoni was kind enough to give me, my son and my nephew a guided tour of the exhibition. Extremely interesting to see it again after more than fifty years when it was in the Science Museum. Monsieur Manoni sent me an e.mail yesterday and had this to say; “Thank you for your message and for you visit. I was very happy to meet you and your family. As you know, Will Day is a very important figure for us. He’s really the father of all the historians and collectors of cinema. Thanks too for the information about his life. Laurent Mannoni
    Directeur scientifique du patrimoine
    Cinémathèque française
    Bibliothèque nationale de France”

    I thought that was very nice of him.

    Stephen Fenn

  19. Hello Mr Fenn (and others interested in Will Day),
    Sorry for the delay in replying. Your interest in your grandfather is well founded, quite apart from you being closely related to him. Will Day was probably the first person to realise that it was worth collecting material about the origin and pre-history of cinema. It was a tragedy for Britain that we lost his collection when it came up for sale, though the story has had a happy ending in that the collection is now looked after by the excellent Mr. Mannnoni at the Cinematheque Francaise, who (like Langlois before him) has always seen the value of this collection. For anyone who is unconvinced, just go and see Mannoni’s current exhibition at the Cinematheque: many of the fabulous magic lantern slides and lantern projectors etc come from the Day collection.
    By the way, here is a list of my main writings on Day, though I believe that you have found out a whole lot more about Day’s family life and where he lived.

    Stephen Bottomore, ‘De la Bicyclette Au Cinéma – Une Biographie de Will Day [from Cycling to Cinematography – a Life of Will Day]’, 1895, no. hors-série (Octobre 1997): 7-30.
    Stephen Bottomore, ‘Quel Dommage! La Vente de la Collection Will Day, 1929-1959’, Cinemathèque, no. 8 (Autumn 1995): 106-111.
    Stephen Bottomore, ‘Will Day – Collector’, Sight and Sound 53, no. 4 (Autumn 1984): 237.
    Stephen Bottomore, ‘Will Day: the Story of a Rediscovery’, Film Studies, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 81-91.

    Mr Fenn, I can probably get you copies of at least one of these articles. I will be in touch soon via your email address which Mr Mannoni has forwarded to me.

    Oh, and I must get that Anima Lodge names list scanned to compare it to Urbanora’s list of names above!

    Best regards,

  20. Dear Mr. Bottomore,

    I did reply to the copy of your e.mail but I’m not sure that you received it. I should very much like to have copies of all, or any, of the articles you mention and should be most grateful if you could send them to me. If they are too long to send as e.mail attachments I’ll give you my postal address if you e,mail me (, of course, please advise if there is any cost involved.

    Stephen Fenn

  21. Hi there,
    I’m a bit late to the party on this one bit I’m researching the possible link between The Anima Lodge and a London-based film distributor around 1917 called The Anima Film Company. I’d be grateful for any information, however limited, that can be supplied.
    John S.

  22. I doubt that there’s any link at all. ‘Anima’ comes from animatograph, an early form of projector, but the original Latin means ‘spirit’, so it was a good choice for the name of an organisation that wanted to reflect both its association with the film industry alongside lofty aims. But ‘anima’ could just mean something to do with films, and would be a reasonable choice of name for a film company at that time. I’ve not heard of the 1917 company before now, but I’d say it was entirely separate from the Anima Lodge (which wouldn’t have engaged in film business itself in any case).

  23. A Houghton Rockett founded Tierney’s Royal Picture Theatre at 64 Edward Street, Brighton in 1911. Presumably after the date of the census (2 April) as the premises were then still a hotel/pub. However, when I found Houghton Rockett in the 1911 census, living at 7 Woodberry Grove (amazingly the same road where I lived when I first came to London, upstairs from Bob Hoskins’ then girlfriend!), I discover that as well as Edwin HR’s wife, there were two brothers, also with the middle name Houghton: Albert and Rowland. Edwin was a ‘cinematograph exhibitor’, the two brothers ‘cinematograph operator’.(Also present was a brother-in-law, William Edward Elliott, described as a picture theatre musician.) I am assuming it was Edwin who opened the cinema in Brighton. He was then 34 and his brothers 23 and 19 respectively and all were ‘workers’ rather than ’employers’. Unless anyone knows otherwise.

  24. Very interesting. It’s clearly the same Houghton Rockett (it’s hard to imagine there being another). I don’t know much about Rockett, but Stephen Herbert does ( and I’ve forwarded a copy of this comment to him.

  25. Edwin Houghton Rockett was born in Cambridge in 1852 and married Mary Cannon in1876. They had six children all of whom had Houghton as a middle name. The eldest, born in 1877, was named Edwin Houghton Rockett. This, of course, is a nightmare for researchers. Mary died in 1903.
    EHR(sen) married Edith Darling in about 1911, founded The Royal Tierney Picture House and became a founder member and master of the Anima London Lodge 3634. He died in 1921 of pneumonia.
    His sons, who featured in the 1911 census, worked in the cinematograph industry, possibly for EHR(sen). EHR(jun) fought in WW1.
    I have a photograph of EHR(sen) posing with his staff/family outside The Royal Tierney. If anyone wishes to exchange information on EHR, please ask the Lodge who have my permission to pass on my email address.
    EHR(sen)’s second wife is my grandmother.

  26. Edwin Houghton Rockett (Snr, I think?) wrote a very short (two or three pages, I seem to remember) biographical note for Will Day, which is now in the BiFi archives in Paris.

    Stephen Herbert

  27. Is it a coincidence that EHR Sr married a Darling, which is the surname of one of the foremost cinematograph engineers, who lived and worked in Brighton where EHR founded a cinema? I can’t find a record of EHR marrying at any time from 1905 to 1915, so I haven’t been able to make the connection. Nor can I find a way of contacting the Anima Lodge to ask for John Darling’s email address. So I’d be grateful if he could contact me to follow up his very useful information (David at my website

    David Fisher

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