Fred Storey and Julie Seale in The Soldier’s Courtship (1896), one of a few frames held by the National Media Museum
As we reported yesterday, a copy of Robert Paul’s The Soldier’s Courtship (1896) has been discovered at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome and will be premiered at the Pordenone silent film fesival in October. This is a discovery of major importance, since the film is generally recognised as the first British fiction, or narrative film. However, the film has never been entirely lost, nor is it (arguably) the first British fiction film. Let us examine the history.
In 1936 Robert W. Paul, the British film pioneer, reminisced about the residency his Animatograph projector enjoyed at the Alhambra music hall in London’s Leicester Square in 1896, a little over a month after projected films were first shown to an audience in Britain:
The first public exhibition of the Lumière cinematograph in England took place … on February 20th, at the Polytechnic in Regent Street, and the results were then superior in steadiness and clearness to my own. To compete with that machine, as shown at the Empire Theatre in Leciester Square, the Manager of the Alhambra asked me to give a show, as a ten-minute item in the programme, with my Theatrograph, which he renamed the Animatographe. This engagement was for two weeks, beginning March 25th, but actually continued for about two years. The salary, or fee, was at the rate of eleven pounds for each performance, far more than I has expected. In April, the Alhambra manager, Mr. Moul, who wisely foresaw the need for adding interest to wonder, staged upon the roof a comic scene called The Soldier’s Courtship, the 80-foot film of which caused great merriment.
Paul’s account suggests that both the idea and the setting up of the film were the idea of the Alhambra’s manager, Alfred Moul, and the leading performers in the mini-drama were two Alhambra regulars, dancer and comedian Fred Storey and and dancer Julie Seale. Paul was chiefly there to turn the handle of the camera, though his wife Ellen did play the role of the interloper in the simple comic scene, described in the theatre journal The Era (16 May 1896):
Mr R.W. Paul has much improved the animated pictures presented by means of his clever invention … The element of humour is introduced by a picture of a soldier’s courtship. Mars and Venus (a befeathered Harriet) are interrupted in their ‘billing and cooing’ by a lady of maturer years, who insists on making a third on the seat occupied by the lovers. Protestations are in vain. Finally, the linesman, taking the law into his own hands, tips up the seat violently and throws the uninvited one to the ground. The courtship then continues.
The film appears to have been a great hit, so much so that Paul produced a remake two years later, entitled Tommy Atkins in the Park. The Soldier’s Courtship has since gone down in British film mythology as the first British fiction film.
But what is a fiction film, and what is a first? Anyone familiar with early film history will recognise the perils – nay, the folly – of describing any film as being the ‘first’ of something. Apart from anything else, such labels are meaningless when it comes to describing films produced at a time before such labels existed.
Arrest of a Pickpocket, made by Birt Acres and Robert Paul in April 1895, and a stronger candidate for the first British fiction film
If we want to dip into such controveries and argue that a fiction film is one that contains dramatic elements, then The Soldier’s Courtship had its predecessors. Robert Paul had begun film production in February or March of 1895, when he and the photographer Birt Acres collaborated on producing films for the Edison peepshow Kinetoscope, which Edison had notoriously neglected to patent in Europe, presenting a money-making opportunity to the two quick-minded London men. They produced a number of films between March and May 1895, before they fell out and went their separate ways, each finding his way towards a projected film system by early 1896. But among the films they made in 1895 (the full extent of which remains unknown) were:
- An untitled ‘comedy’ filmed outside Acres’ Barnet home, ‘starring’ Henry Short (an acquaintance of both Acres and Paul), a few frames of which survive and which is various known as Incident at Clovelly Cottage or Cricketer Jumping Over Garden Gate. Whether it contained any genuine dramatic content is unclear – it seems chiefly to have been a test to demonstrate movement and image contrast (Short dressed in cricket whites).
- Arrest of a Pickpocket – made in April 1895, this is the strongest candidate for the first British fiction film. It shows in single shot a pickpocket pursued by a policeman; he escapes the policeman’s clutches only to be captured by a passing sailor. The present tense is apposite, because the film survives, at the National Fairground Archive, and can be seen online at the Europa Film Treasures site.
- Comic Shoeblack – made around May 1895. No description survives (and no film), but the title indicates an element of dramatisation, even if it is only to add spice to an actuality.
- Carpenter’s Shop – made around May 1895, in emulation of Edison films showing scenes in a barroom and a blacksmith’s, this was ostensibly a scene from actuality, but had small dramatic points designed to capture the interest of the peepshow viewer, and could therefore be argued as being fictionalised. It is a lost film.
- Arrest of a Bookmaker – John Barnes dates this Paul production to August 1896, but Denis Gifford in the British Film Catalogue puts it as May 1896, possibly even before The Soldier’s Courtship. A film which may be this is held by the BFI National Archive [The BFI has the film under the supplied title of Footpads – see comments]. Gifford also places Acres’ Golfing Extraordinary (a comic scene with golfers) as May 1896 and considers Acres’ Boxing Match to be a January 1896 production and to have dramatic elements (i.e. a staged match).
So, The Soldier’s Courtship is not the first British fiction film, if we can talk of fictional or narrative films in their later sense. Nor is it entirely a lost film. Firstly, a few frames from the film survived in the Kodak collection for many years and are now preserved by the National Media Museum in Bradford – one of the frames is used as the illustration at the top of this post. Secondly, as John Barnes points out – and illustrates – in The Beginnings of the Cinema in England, vol. 1 – 1894-1896, a Filoscope exists of the film. The Filoscope was a hand-held flickbook with sequential images taken from cinefilms (a demonstration video is here). It was the invention of Henry Short, the same man who appeared in the ‘Clovelly Cottage’ film made by Acres and Paul in February or March of 1895. John Barnes had a copy of the Filoscope himself (his collection is now held by Hove Museum and Art Gallery) and reported that there were 176 leaves, or images. Hardly a complete film, but enough to show the central action. It was marketed as The Soldier’s Embrace, and at least one other copy has come up for auction before now.
Well, this leaves us with The Soldier’s Courtship being neither the ‘first’ British fiction film, nor a ‘lost’ film. But it is a landmark film for all that, and we have a complete 35mm copy in good condition, and that is a marvel all by itself, given that it is 115 years old. Moreover it’s a film with an identified cast, among whom Fred Storey in particular was a musical comedian of some fame. It is the first British film where we can set out a full set of credits (because we do not know the cast members of Arrest of a Pickpocket):
The Soldier’s Courtship (UK 1896)
director: Robert Paul
production company: Paul’s Animatograph Works
supervised by: Alfred Moul
length: 80 feet
location: Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, London
cast: Fred Storey (soldier), Julie Seale (his sweetheart), Ellen Paul (woman)
And that’s a movie.
I hope that there will be chances for everyone to see it following its Pordenone premiere in October. It certainly is an exciting and important discovery.
Great news on the discovery of a print of Robert Paul’s 1896 film! And well-noted that there were a variety of attempts to lift the photography of movement beyond documentation right from the beginning.
Wholly agreeing with your comments on the fragility of “firsts”, perhaps it is nonetheless interesting for readers of this posting to recall the “fictionalised” (no better word?) moving pictures made for his Schnellseher by Ottomar Anschutz in 1890. This viewing apparatus was very widely exhibited in Europe and on the East Coast of America; it was also shown at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1892, where it was seen by Thomas Armat. It was for the Schnellseher that Anschutz produced a series of “entertainment” chronophotographs for his exhibitions, including:
Skatspieler (Skat Players, or better, Card Players)
Einseifen beim Barbier (Lathering Up at the Barber’s, or better, Barber Shop Scene)
Rauchende Jugend (Smoking Youths)
Familie essend aus einem Topfe (Family Eating from a Bowl [a comic scene])
Zwei Zimmerleute Fru”stu”ckend (Two Carpenters Breakfasting)
Zwei Herren eine Prise Schnupftabak nehmend (Two Men Taking a Pinch of Snuff [comic facial expression film)
Mann mit wechselndem Mimenspiel (Man with Changing Expressions [comic facial expression again])
Kinder Bonbons essend (Children Eating Bonbons)
Drei rauchende Kinder (Three Smoking Children)
Lustige fahrt (Funny Journey)
Funny Journey shows a worker pushing a wheelbarrow along a street, filled with shouting and gesturing boys. A good description of the film exists from a review in 1890: “This group…is so appealing that one seems to be transported spontaneously onto the street, celebrating with the happy choir and even thinking that you hear the shouts and the rolling of the wheels, when the apparatus comes to a stop and the moving figures apparently have turned into the next side street.”
There is a single, poor, image of one of the above films which has survived: in a photograph of the Anschutz Home Model Schnellseher, the machine is seen with the disk for Skatspieler (Card Players) in place, and the viewing port is specially lit from behind, so that a tiny, barely discernable image is present. It shows three men in hats seated around a card table, possibly outdoors (or possibly indoors). The set-up, of course, is tantalisingly similar to the very early Lumiere film also called Card Players (and the Melies Catalogue No. 1 of the same title). We do know, even if the French have never written about it, that the Schnellseher was exhibited in Paris in 1892. We do not (yet?) know what disks were shown on the Anschutz apparatus in Paris.
This image of Skatspieler can be seen in Richard Abel, Encyclopedia of Early Cinema (Routledge, 2005), in my article on Chronophotography, p. 119 & Fig. 21.
Although I was writing about the ‘first’ British fiction or narrative films, you are right to point out that we can trace the impulse to create fiction through motion pictures to a time before motion picture film. Anschütz’s fictionalised settings (can we call them the creative treatment of actuality?) are one example: there is Emile Reynaud’s Théâtre Optique in 1892, while the fully-fledged dramatic photoplay (except that depiction of movement was marginal, I believe) could be said to have been created by Alexander Black in 1894 with Miss Jerry.
There’s another candidate for a first British film drama – an unidentified Birt Acres film from the famous Henville collection at the BFI, either 1895 or 1896, with the supplied title of (Crude Set Drama) – catalogue record here: http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/525870. The description (penned by yours truly) reads:
I was unable to identify it, and it is evidence I believe that there were more Acres and Paul films in 1895 than we currently have listed.
Apart from some not-too-subtle propaganda for Anschutz, who has been left out of the chronophotography story for much too long (to say nothing of the early / invention cinema story), there are a lot of “pre-cinematic” early moving dramas, many barely researched or badly integrated into the master narrative of “early cinema” as received.
I agree that there are many more Acres, or Paul-Acres films than those that we know. The known films take place over several weeks of pretty intense activity, when everything was new and working and exciting, and as well over a very wide range of locations, including ports, backyards, and towns.
The real mystery here is why the two partners fell out, and fell out so badly. There is genuine vituperation in the (more mature? middle-class? gentlemanly?) Acres letter about Paul written to Stollwerck; this is a shocking letter from the man we seem to know as Birt Acres. And the later Paul comments, so casually dismissing any of Acres’s work, which has damaged the historical record so badly, is equally sharp evidence that the split between the two was deep and lasting and vicious.
I’ve given a lot of thought to what could have possibly caused this, but I don’t have any real answers. My best bet — pure speculation — is that it was over money. Paul seems to have had a high regard for money, particularly as a younger man setting out his own young business. It was, after all, only with the success of the Lumiere showings that he goes back into the film business — when it is clear that there is a lot of quick money to be made. IF Acres was, in the brief weeks that they worked together, probably something like February through April or at the latest early May, “wasting money” by shooting more film (expensive celluloid) in the back yard, or down Yarmouth port, without Paul, or without an agreed plan of joint activity (and Acres, I think, was so smitten by moving pictures that this is possible), then this fits with the idea that there are more films than those few titles known, and with the idea that Paul was not in control of the partnership expenses, which would have disturbed him greatly.
Certainly I do not think that Paul’s fake Kinetoscope business was active enough to justify much film production, and since Edison would not take up with them, there wasn’t much justification for the partnership at all by late Spring 1895. More filmmaking was just waste. But Acres by then, with the working camera (which Paul happily let him take away for £30 [money again!]), was wholly smitten by the potential of moving pictures. Paul evidently was not.
With all due respect to John Barnes, we do need a new history of the origins of British film. Ian Christie’s Paul biography will undoubtedly fill some gaps, however. (when will we see it?)
All respect duly noted and duly given to a great historian, but if you read V. 1 on Acres and Paul carefully, very carefully, there is a mistake which genuinely invalidates John’s conclusions about this partnership. And it is a genuine mistake. And Yes, the origins are tricky. I don’t have a clue about Ian’s biography, which I thought would be out by now. But then again, I’ve been a little slow at some projects myself…..
Why is your clock two hours off? Am I missing some essentially British timekeeping here?
I have just a few unfinished projects here myself. Ian’s website (http://www.ianchristie.org) says he hopes to finish the book during 2011.
I’m not sure about the time – as I type this it is 19.47… OK, so WordPress thinks it’s GMT and I think it’s BST.
Apropos of not much, but as you mention the possibility of other uncatalogued/ususpected Paul films…….do you happen to know what is the evidence for ‘Footpads’ and ‘Arrest of a Bookmaker’ being the same film?? The catalogue description fits a film called ‘Footpads’ perfectly…….but where does the arrest, or the bookmaker, come into it??? Is it at all possible that ‘Arrest of a Bookmaker’ is a different, lost, film???
Needless to say, from a personal point of view, that a bookmaker being arrested is not so much fictional as wild fantasy, and I find it sad that such hardworking paragons of virtue were being besmirched even then…..
There are a few frames from Acres ‘Comic Shoeblack’ film reprinted in ‘Interview with Mr. T.H. Blair’, Film History 16, no. 1 (2004): 6-8 [orig from Black and White magazine July 1895.] so I guess we could say the film hasn’t quite disappeared. Deac Rossell pointed out to me that the set is the same as ‘Arrest of a Pickpocket’. I just looked at the online version of the latter, and the actors are also the same in the two films Shoeblack and Pickpocket.
Interesting question about Arrest of a Bookmaker, if that’s what it is. From memory, the film was acquired by the BFI some years ago as an unidentified Paul film (identifiable as Paul because of the characteristic black-edged perfs) with the supplied title of Footpads. I think the identification with Arrest of a Bookmaker is meant to be a tentative one, and I should have pointed this out in my post. All we know of that film is the catalogue description “Struggle of a betting man with the police, and his arrest”. The Footpads film shows a man best by robbers who is then rescued by a policeman. It doesn’t sounds much a bookmaker scenario, whether paragon of virtue or not. I’ll put a query by the identification in my post.
Thanks for the illuminating reply; though it was the BFI’s own identification I was querying, rather than your own. I suppose, until some frames appear, of a gallant purveyor of leisure entertainment to the masses being oppressed by representatives of late-Victorian moral hypocrisy, we will never know for sure…. :)
The BFI’s database isn’t too clear when it comes to pointing out possible or supplied titles – anyway, it fooled me, though I ought to have remembered because I do recall the film from my time at the BFI and puzzling over the identification then. I think it’s further evidence that the films that we have listed (by John Barnes) for Acres and Paul in 1895/96 do not cover everything that they produced.
I do hope the film that matches your description turns up one day.
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Sorry I won’t make Pordnone this year but I eagerly await the opportunity to see the complete film and these artists whose careers fascinate me.
Julia Seale and Fred Storey stars at the Alhambra
At the time that The Soldier’s Courtship was made Fred Storey was a well-established star of the Alhambra and Julia Seale had just secured leading roles. They were both appearing in Carlo Coppi’s ballet Ali Baba with music by Georges Jacobi when the film was made; Seale as Saia Mahmoud and Storey had taken over the title role when the Agoust troupe withdrew from the production. Seale and Storey would shortly open together (4 June 1896) in the Alhambra’s next ballet, the Irish inspired Donnybrook. It is perhaps also worth mentioning that the Alhambra was going through a tough time to survive which may well account for Alfred Moul’s adventurousness in relationship to film.
Although the Theatre and Performance Collections at the V&A holds the so called Alfred Moul Archive this only covers his second period of management of the theatre in the early twentieth century. Alas it has nothing to reveal about the making of The Soldier’s Courtship. Indeed the only correspondence of film interest it contains is a letter from the British Mutoscope & Biograph Co of 2 February 1903. However there is a great deal of other material on the Alhambra elsewhere in the Collections. I thought it might be of interest to supply some information on the two dance-stars who appear in The Soldier’s Courtship
Julia Seale was a pupil of ballet mistress, Katti Lanner, and made her stage debut in pantomime at the age of six. While still young, she performed at the Gaîté, Paris, setting the pattern for a career that regularly encompassed the two cities. She specialised in character dance and frequently took travesty roles. She danced for Lanner at the Aquarium and Alexandra Palace. She was a featured dancer at the Alhambra between 1890 and 1910 coming to notice there in 1891when she took over from Minnie Thurgate in Zanetta. In the 1900s she worked frequently with Alfredo Curti in both London and Paris. In 1912 she appeared with Adeline Genée in La Camargo at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. Seale was an independent woman prepared to be a spokeswoman for dancers writing to the Era in protest at remarks made by Mr. Winterbotham M.P. in Parliament claiming that dancers became prostitutes. This letter was followed by an address to the Church and Stage Guild about her life as a dancer. This was later published giving a rare and important insight into a leading English dancer’s career in the late nineteenth century.
‘Round the Music Halls by the Impartial Observer’, St Paul’s 18 February 1899 p.204
‘Miss Seale, like Miss Casboni, has been engaged in ballet at the Alhambra since she was a little girl, and yet it is as a boy that she is most familiar to the habitués, She is certainly pre-eminent in boy’s parts, but Julia Seale is one of those clever actresses who would succeed in any character. …In Jack Ashore, Miss Seale is a rollocking, mischievous, and “mashing” midshipman; and in” The Red Shoes, as the Spirit of Temptation, she is the very incarnation of satanic wickedness and mockery. No two more opposite characters could be found, and yet Julie Seale plays both to perfection. “My first appearance,” she told our representative in her dressing-room, which is shared with “Casi,” “was at the primitive age of six, at Drury Lane, with the Vokes Family in pantomime. I subsequently went to the Alhambra, and have remained since. I might say I am Alhambra-bred.”
Among the early ballets in which Miss Seale appeared were The Revolt of the Daughters, Monkey Island, and The Day Out, in which last she took the Coster to perfection. In “Ali Baba,” she tells you, with quaint humour, that she was the chief thief; but she thinks her biggest success was the Jester in “Victoria and Merrie England.” Like Miss Casaboni, Miss Seale is a popular feature of the Alhambra, and no ballet there would be complete without this merry little dancing actress. Miss Seale and Miss Casaboni nearly always act together as boy and girl, and as they know each other’s business, a splendid combination is the result.’
Fred Storey (1861?-1917) was a remarkable actor, dancer and scenic artist was a member of an artistic family. His uncle G.A Storey was an academician, his daughter, Sylvia, a Gibson Girl in The Catch of the Season (1906) married into the aristocracy. Having been a member of the Girard troupe he went on to perform in pantomime, musical comedy, as a music hall act and in burlesque. He was noted as a comedian in movement being an eccentric dancer and impressive mime. Describing his performance as Morel in the burlesque Monte Cristo Jnr. (1887), which toured internationally, W.T. Vincent in Recollections of Fred Leslie London 1894 Vol.II p.45 described him as dancing ‘as gracefully on one leg as on two’.
Although Storey claimed he made his debut in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves at the Park Theatre, Camden Town in 1879 he had appeared with Bancrofts in Tom Taylor’s Parents and Guardians in1877 at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Tottenham Court Road. Storey was first seen at the Alhambra as Jacob Twigg in Black Eye’d See-usan (1884) and following his success at the Magician in Aladdin at the Alhambra (1892-3) – in which Seale also appeared – the first time he had worked with her, he took the title role in Don Quixote (1893), Bluebeard (1896) and Rip van Winkle (1896). He became a key interpreter of the role of Rip van Winkle in a wide range of productions over twenty five years. Later at the Alhambra he appeared in Donnybrook (1986), The Tzigane (1896-7) and Les Malices de Pierrot (1898). Of his success in Aladdin the review in The Star 20 December 1892 p.2 said ‘after generations of Italian men dancers, all executing the same movements with more or less success, it is pleasant to find an English dancer with his name on the bill. Mr. Fred Storey made the biggest success of the ballet last night with his grotesque dancing as the magician.’ Storey was sensitive to working conditions in the theatre and he campaigned for improved conditions performers, in particularly in respect of agents’ fees
‘A Chat with Fred Storey’, Era 24 March 1894 p.16
‘In the course of time he developed a remarkable flexibility of limb, which was assiduously cultivated. Perhaps with a touch of exaggeration, Mr Storey declares that he regrets the vast energy he has in the past devoted to dancing. His idea was, of course, to acquire celebrity as a specialist in that particular branch of entertainment; and perhaps, he says, reflectively, he might have made a fine thing of it, had he been years earlier in the field.’
‘At the termination of his engagement with the Gaiety company, Mr. Fred Storey bade adieu to the theatrical stage …variety…So Mr. Storey thought he would try his luck as a soloist in the music halls, equipping himself with a song or two, and also, of course relying upon his extraordinary flexibility of limb…. Mr Storey, however, does not appear to be greatly enamoured of the song and dance business….The music hall singer has to make his own choice of the literary work he has to interpret, He has to acquire it with his own money, dress it with the aid of the same banker….In fact, the music hall soloist is a veritable soloist, more absolutely dependent upon his own judgment and ability than any other performer on the stage…. His engagement at the Alhambra has been very pleasant and congenial, affording him, at any rate in Don Quixote, the opportunity for displaying his histrionic as well as his Terpsichorean ability. In talking to Mr. Storey one is irresistibly led to the belief that his desire is ultimately to devote himself to the art of the eccentric comedian; and is rather disappointed to find that his triumphs as a dancer do not greatly rejoice him. Mr. Storey somewhat scornfully repudiates the suggestion that assiduous daily practice is nowadays essential to him; nor does he respond with pleasure to your reminder that in the old days the male dancer was esteemed as one of the most distinguished of artists.
Curator of Dance, V&A
My goodness, thank you for such a detailed and helpful account of the two performers. The film was probably not much more than an hour’s work in the middle of a busy schedule for both, and not viewed by them as anything other than amusing diversion. Now it might be their chief form of immortality. It will be interesting to see if the film lets them display any of their artistry at all.
Interesting discussion. Just a few points to make. By 13 April 1895 the Kinetoscope and Film Company of London (J. Lewis Young) were adveryising “Up0to-date English and Continental Films”. On 20 April 1895 R. W. Paul adverised “Kinetoscope and Films. New subjects taken by R. W. Paul”. These included Oxford and Cambridge Boar Race, Pickpocket’s Arrest, Railway Station Scene [perhaps the “first” train entering a station, Bootblack Scene, and Sundry Performers. I have a hunch that I know one of the performers in Pickpocket, but need to do some more digging. On 19 May 1895 Paul advertised that he had 20 “New English Films” and also “Films of any subject to order”, so he presumably still had use of the camera.May 1895 was when Paul became invoved with Kinetoscope exhibition, so perhaps there was something about this that Acres didn’t like. What about Tom Merry, where does he fit in? He seems more Paul than Acres in subject matter.
My Filoscope of “The Soldier’s Embrace” has leaves numbered to 172, a few missing from end. Action is that Julie sits alone on the bench, Fred enters, they chat, she shrinks away, then they embrace and he sweeps her off her feet. Ellen had not appeared at this stage of the film.
It looks to me like Paul only had the 20odd films made by May, but how many did Acres take? When might the Yarmouth films have been made. I may be a bit dim here, but on whose Kinetoscopes were Acres’ films going to be shown.
Contact me for more detail.
I’ll be in touch! My but you’ve packed in a lot of tatalising new material in there. I’ve never heard of J. Lewis Young or the Kinetoscope and Film Company (what contiental Kinetoscope films were there for them to sell – the Werners, maybe?). I have great faith on your hunches, so I look forward to hearing who you think might be Arrest of a Pickpocket. I think we need to ask Deac Rossell for whose Kinetoscopes Acres was making films. We’ve assumed it was Paul only, until Acres went to Germany in June 1895 and teamed up with Ludwig Stollwerck, but was he selling films to others earlier than that? I happen to think that Acres was thinking about projection from the start and wasn’t really shooting for Kinetoscopes at all (why have those posters in the background of Pickpocket which no one could have made out on the Kinetoscope’s tiny image?).
I’ve now see The Soldier’s Courtship, which is an absolute delight. I’ll be reporting on it fully in an upcoming Pordenone diary, but will add information here as well so that this post and its comments can serve as an archive of information on the film.
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I feel compelled to make a comment after reading the above. This is a fascinating experience for me as Fred Storey was my great uncle, brother of my grandfather George Harold Storey. Having recently commenced researching my family tree the information I am discovering is more interesting than I could have imagined.
Thank you for commenting, and it is an honour to have someone here with such distinguished lineage. Good luck with your family history researches.