Created 24-Feb-16
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See Neil Rhind: Blackheath Village & Environs, Vol 1, pp199-203 for fun details.

The Blackheath Art Club was founded at No 27 (47) Bennett Park in 1883, by Webster and others, to:

“promote social intercourse among gentlemen interested in science, literature, painting and music in Blackheath and the neighbourhood”.

The purpose-built studios at 47 Bennett Park were intended to be commercially self-sustaining and subsidise the building of the Art School and Conservatoire but it failed to do this.

The Art Club functioned well until the Great War with the last exhibition in 1916.

From 1934-43 the building in Bennett Park became the headquarters of a remarkable enterprise - the GPO Film Unit. From 1934-41 the unit made dozens of pioneering documentary films with contributions from people such as Humphrey Jennings, John Grierson, John Gillett, Benjamin Britten, W.H. Auden, E.M. Forster and J.B Priestley.

Films such as Nightmail, Coalface, BBC - the Voice of Britain and the King’s Stamp remain landmarks in documentary film making. Wartime documentaries such as Listen to Britain, Britain Can Take It, Coastal Command were all produced from Blackheath.

Night Mail (1936) - Rapping before rapping was fashionable - Stuart Legg reciting W.H Auden "This is the The Night Mail" -

In 1986 the Post Office commissioned 'Night Mail II' complete with an updated verse by Blackheath resident Blake Morrison and music by James Harpham.

Far removed from Blackheath but only 2 years before the foundation of the Blackheath Society, "Coal Face" shows a very different side of Britain in the 1930s.

Coal Face (1935) (Verse WH Auden, Music Benjamin Britten, Director Alberto Cavalacantii
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Category:Architecture and Structures
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Keywords:Benjamin Britten, Blackheath Art Club, Cavlacanti, Coal face, Humphrey Jennings, Night Mail, W.H.Auden, Webster