West's 'Our Navy' at
|West's 'Our Navy'
regarded the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster)
as its London 'home' for many years. In his Autobiography Alfred West wrote:
'Our Navy revived'
||Viral' advertisement in the
guise of a Seltzer Powder which, when opened, displays an advertisement
for 'Our Navy'. Versions of this advertisement were designed for the
Regent Street Polytechnic film shows and left on buses and in cafes and public
places to be found and opened by the curious.
This example, for a Bournemouth showing, nonetheless makes reference to 'Direct from the POLYTECHNIC' as the principal UK venue; the show became closely identified with the London location worldwide as Alfred West regarded it as the best known and most prestigious of the 'Our Navy' venues.
Sandwich board men were dispatched across London to advertise the shows, but Our Navy also created a large wooden ship model 13' 6" in length, christened 'King Edward VIII' which was towed around London and other cities carrying bill boards and advertisements for the Polytechnic and local shows. Unfortunately this fell foul of London byelaws, and West was told that he would be prosecuted if he continued to use it for advertising as the great crowds it attracted caused serious disruption to traffic. The model eventually featured in several film sequences and it was eventually blown up and destroyed for dramatic effect.
Although it is purely speculative, based on a 100 seat auditorium with suitable banding of prices and a full house, the seat prices quoted above can be converted to 2011 income approximations as follows:
|Seats||1900 price||2011 equivalent||2011 Total|
|Income per showing||£994|
Assuming a full house of around 100 seats, and 9 performances a week, we can estimate an equivalent 'takings' in 2011 prices for the week at GBP 9000. On an annual season of 25 weeks that equates to takings of around GBP 223,000 a year from the Polytechnic business alone. West was showing across the whole UK, and it's not unreasonable to assume that figure could be tripled or more if income from all the other UK shows are taken into account. Sadly, 'Our Navy' Ltd account books do not survive.
Clips and Reviews
Recent research in the archives of the University has revealed more clips and reviews - including one relating to the world cruise of the Ophir in 1901. The material was being shown at the Regent Street Polytechnic in 1902.
Reference: University of Westminster Archive Services, Polytechnic Magazine vol. XXXIX, 20th November 1902, p210
These contemporary reports are also taken from University of Westminster Archives by kind permission.
University of Westminster Archive Services, Polytechnic Magazine vol. XXXV, 11th October 1899, p173-174
University of Westminster Archive Services, Polytechnic Magazine vol. XXXV, 18th October 1899, p190