Brighton and Hove Guardian of Wednesday February 7, 1900
THE WEST PIER
One of the most interesting entertainments seen in Brighton for a long time is being given at the West Pier this week. On Monday " Our Navy" was witnessed by a large and appreciative audience, who greeted the various scenes with thunders of applause. The entertainment consisted of a number of animated photographs depicting a bluejacket's career in the Navy. The pictures showed almost every side of a sailor's life, commencing from his entry on board a training ship until he is a proficient A.B. Some of the pictures are really remarkable and convey a most graphic impression of life in the Navy. The first part of the programme was illustrative of the training, showing lads at deck work, hoisting boats, scrubbing hammocks, &c. ; while drills and cutlass and other exercises were also shown. After receiving instruction in gunnery at the school at Whale Island, he is instructed in torpedo warfare on board H.M.S. "Vernon." The second part of the programme dealt with scenes at the Naval manoeuvres, and showed the latest types of battleships and various scenes on board serious and humorous. Between parts one and two a number of yacht racing scenes were shown, showing among others such well known racers as the "Ailsa," "Brittania," and "Shamrock." A number of views , depicting our soldiers leaving for South Africa and the Naval Brigade with their guns at Ladysmith, were received with hearty applause. One of the best of the pictures was the view depicting the "Turbinia" steaming at 35 knots an hour, the spray thrown up by the propeller looking very real. The view showing H.M.S "Jaseur" steaming at full speed and discharging torpedoes and the bluejackets at the Military Tournament in London with their field guns, also deserves special mention. The pictures are very interesting and instructive, and will afford thousands of people opportunities of seeing the strength of the nation to which they belong. We strongly advise our readers not to miss the opportunity of paying the entertainment a visit. Performances will be given every afternoon at three and on Thursday and Saturday evenings at eight. The interesting exhibition has been originated and is managed entirely by Messrs. West and Son of Southsea, the whole of the pictures having been taken by Mr. West himself, with whom we have had the interview below.....
Hove Guardian and Visitors Register Wednesday February 7, 1900
THE NAVY ALL ALIVE AT THE WEST PIER
INTERVIEW WITH MR. WEST
Yesterday a Guardian man met Mr West for particulars of the exhibition. In the course of a very interesting interview Mr West said:---"It is in the first place an accurate representation of actual life and work in the Royal Navy, by a series of animated pictures. Prior to any idea of giving entertainments of this description, I had a conversation with the Duke of York when he was in command of the "Crescent" at Portsmouth, with the result that I took several animated pictures of that boat. I afterwards exhibited them before his Royal Highness and the crew of the "Crescent." His Royal Highness was so impressed that he thought he Queen would like to see them. I had a Royal Command to appear at Osbourne, and afterwards the Duke told me that Her Majesty was delighted with the pictures. I then thought that if her Majesty had been pleased to see them, public would also be pleased to see them. I certainly had not so many pictures as I have now, but I said I would start an entertainment, and show the British public what the Navy was like, and the only way in which I can do it is
BY ANIMATED PICTURES,
I started with that idea, and began to give entertainments. The first part of the programme was the cruise of the "Crescent," and the second part various subjects in connection with the Navy. Since then I have taken to showing how the boy from the raw material, upon entering the Navy, is turned into an efficient bluejacket, and that comprises, now, practically the first part of the programme. We take a boy of the raw material into a training-ship, on which he does deckwork for a time. The we proceed to show him various instructions in drills in order to develop his powers as a seaman. The we take him on to a training brig to go for a short summer trip to get over the sea illness. From there he is placed in a training squadron which goes for a longer trip, and from there he is sent to the gunnery school where he goes through gunnery instruction. Then he is placed into a school of instruction in torpedo warfare. From there he practically becomes an A.B. Assuming the audience would like a change in the programme, we then turn to our pleasure fleet, and show animated pictures of some of our
BIG CRACK RACING YACHTS.
To obtain some of them I have had unpleasant experiences, and have nearly lost my life. For the last seventeen years I have been accustomed to yacht photography; I have obtained 45 medals in that respect, so of course in photographing these yachts I show it came to me as easily as it is for a dog to drink water. Then we get to the second part of the programme. Having made the boy an A.B., we start him as a fighting man. The first picture shows the launch of a battleship : then comes the coaling of the vessel and the Admiral's inspection. We also show some of our troops departing for the Cape, and guns in action identical with those used at Ladysmith,"
"How is your entertainment received by the public?"
"Well, it has had such an inspiring effect upon the lads who have seen it, that at Newcastle, forty joined the Navy, and I was told by the Recruiting-Officer that in two years only one lad had made application, and in Sheffield last June there were 18 who joined. We not only show Jack at work, but also show him at play. We try to make the pictures as realistic as possible, and by the thunders of applause we get everywhere we go, I think we are successful."
"I suppose you have no intention of departing from the method you have so far pursued?"
"No. I intend to keep it running as a high-class entertainment wherever I go."
"How long ago did you start it?"
"About sixteen months; I appeared before the Queen last August twelvemonth. I might add that the photograph produced in the evidence given respecting the collision between Lord Dunraven's boat and an American yacht in the recent American cup-race was one taken by myself"
Brighton and Hove Guardian, Wednesday Feb 14 1900
THE WEST PIER
The living pictures of the Navy and of life in the Navy have already proved a big attraction. The audiences continue to be considerable and not one goes to see the performance who does not recommend others to go. The other day I had a chat about it with an old veteran of the Navy. He had been to the Pier Theatre, of course. He was astonished and delighted at the completeness and the accuracy with which life in the Navy was presented on the stage. Since then he has bee going about as a sort of agent for the performance "con Amore. Brighton and Hove are now full of converts to Naval enthusiasm, as a result of Mr West's clever and complete representations at the West Pier. I do not wonder. The action is reproduced with startling accuracy and verisimilitude. You can even see the mouths of the Jack Tars moving as they sing their patriotic songs. You can see the handsome yachts plunging their knife-like noses through the storm-tossed waves, heaping and leaping in triumph from wave to wave while the spray is wildly splashing along their sides. You can see the majestic ironclads moving in all their active grandeur. You can see the Turbinia sailing at 42 miles an hour. Strangest of all perhaps are the illusions by which appropriately convincing noises are made to accompany all the actions, even when the hulks are blown into the air by the torpedoes. "After the performance the other evening," said Mr. West, "a gentleman came from the audience and said he had been sea-sick." The force of cinematography could no further go.