Biography of 'Kemp family'

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Showmen and cinema exhibitors

GEORGE ‘PRESIDENT’ KEMP Born Leicester (?), Died 1928, Ayrshire
HARRY KEMP Died1972

George Kemp worked as a solicitor’s clerk before becoming a travelling showman in 1882 adopting the stage name ‘President’ Kemp. In 1901 he opened his first Bioscope show. Very much a family affair, George was helped by his son Harry and his brother Walter, who ‘described’ or narrated the stories of the early silent films for the benefit of the audience.

In 1911, anticipating the decline of the travelling bioscope, George retired from the road and opened his first cinema, the Pavilion in Johnstone, Renfrewshire. Two years later opened his second cinema, the La Scala in Saltcoats, a resort on the Ayrshire coast, subsequently converting a wooden building across the street into the Casino Cinema in 1919.

President Kemp retired in 1925 and son Harry took over the business. Harry had introduced a series of concert parties during the 1922 summer season at the La Scala cinema in Saltcoats. It was the first of the now legendary Kemp Summer Shows which ran at venues up and down the Ayrshire Coast.

Kemp’s only Glasgow city cinema, the Capitol in Ibrox opened in April 1927. It was sold 18 months later to Gaumont British. In 1930-1931 the Casino Cinema in Saltcoats was demolished and replaced by the Regal. By the 1960’s Harry had been joined by his two sons Frank and George and had diversified into the amusement arcade industry.

Both the Regal and La Scala cinemas in Saltcoats continued to run and with Harry’s death in 1972 Frank and George took over as the third generation of Kemps.

Researcher: Eamonn Butler

Films associated with 'COCOZZA, Enrico'

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'ARDEER SPORTS 1929' thumbnail

ARDEER SPORTS 1929 [0566]

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Sports day at the Nobel Explosives Factory, Ardeer, Ayrshire; tug-of-war, sack race, pillow fight, and 'tilting the bucket' competition.

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1929

silent

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'ARDROSSAN SHIPYARD SPORTS' thumbnail

ARDROSSAN SHIPYARD SPORTS [0575]

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Open air sports for shipyard workers.

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1921

silent

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'ARDROSSAN SPORTS GALA' thumbnail

ARDROSSAN SPORTS GALA [0562]

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Coverage of Ardrossan Sports Gala with footage of a boxing match between Elky Clark and Duke Swan.

Full length video available

1925

silent

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'GOODNIGHT FROM HARRY KEMP' thumbnail

GOODNIGHT FROM HARRY KEMP [3658]

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Exterior of the Regal Cinema in Saltcoats; Harry Kemp, owner of the Regal Cinema, bids cinema patrons goodnight. Believed shot unofficially by Movietone News cameraman for Kemp whilst filming SALTCOATS GETS NEW ESPLANADE.

Full length video available

1933

sound

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'HARRY KEMP'S "SCOTCH BROTH" ENTERTAINERS' thumbnail

HARRY KEMP'S "SCOTCH BROTH" ENTERTAINERS [0567]

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A putting competition, children in the sea bathing and a charabanc carrying the local "entertainers".

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1925

silent

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'JUNIOR CUP FINAL: St. Anthony's v Saltcoats Victoria' thumbnail

JUNIOR CUP FINAL: St. Anthony's v Saltcoats Victoria [0577]

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Coverage of the Scottish Junior Cup Final and two replays between Saltcoats Victoria and St. Anthony's May-June, 1925.

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1925

silent

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'NOBEL'S TRIP TO ROTHESAY' thumbnail

NOBEL'S TRIP TO ROTHESAY [0568]

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A workers' outing from the Nobel Explosives Factory at Ardeer - a day trip to Rothesay on board the paddle steamer "King Edward".

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1925

silent

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'SALTCOATS FLOODED' thumbnail

SALTCOATS FLOODED [0569]

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The sea front and streets of Saltcoats flooded by high seas.

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1919

silent

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'SALTCOATS GETS NEW ESPLANADE' thumbnail

SALTCOATS GETS NEW ESPLANADE [1330]

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Sir Josiah and Lady Stamp perform the opening ceremony of the new Sandylands esplanade in Saltcoats.

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1933

sound

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'SALTCOATS PILGRIMAGE TO LOURDES' thumbnail

SALTCOATS PILGRIMAGE TO LOURDES [0643]

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Procession through the streets of Saltcoats with children dressed in white.

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1952

silent

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'SALTCOATS QUATER CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS' thumbnail

SALTCOATS QUATER CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS [0644]

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Saltcoats Quater Centenary celebrations with the gala procession through the streets.

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1928

silent

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'SCOTTISH JUNIOR CUP - SALTCOATS VICTORIA v ST ROCHS' thumbnail

SCOTTISH JUNIOR CUP - SALTCOATS VICTORIA v ST ROCHS [0564]

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Coverage of the 1924 Scottish Junior Cup football match. The teams come out from the club hut and the captains toss. Shots of the game in progress.

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1924

silent

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VOTE FOR HARRY KEMP [0642]

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"Party political broadcast" by Harry Kemp, a candidate for office on Saltcoats Burgh Council, and shown in his cinema in the run up to the election.

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1922

silent

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