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Mancunian Films

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mancunian Films
Blakeley's Productions, Ltd
Traded asThe Mancunian Film Distributors, Ltd
IndustryFilm production company
GenreComedy films, light entertainment
Fate(Studio sold to the BBC)
FounderJohn E. Blakeley
London and Manchester
United Kingdom
Number of locations

Mancunian Films was a British film production company first organised in 1934. From 1947 it was based in Rusholme, a suburb of Manchester, and produced a number of comedy films, mostly aimed at audiences in the North of England.


Founded by John E. Blakeley, the company produced films in London on extremely low budgets. Blakeley's first studio consisted of a single soundstage in a loft space above a taxi garage. Whenever the filmmakers wanted to shoot a scene, they would first have to signal the mechanics below to stop working, so the noise from below wouldn't register on the soundtracks. Blakeley's first production was Boots! Boots! (1934), starring the young variety entertainer George Formby. Production values were so low that some scenes were filmed in semi-darkness, to hide the lack of set decorations. Despite the technical flaws, the debut film was a huge success in the local provinces, recouping Blakeley's investment several times over and launching George Formby as Britain's leading screen comedian. Within the year "Blakeley's Productions, Ltd." had become "The Mancunian Film Distributors, Ltd". Blakeley initially used facilities like Riverside Studios; the films were released via Butcher's Films.[1][2]

Dickenson Road Studios

A plaque on a house wall marks the former site of Dickenson Road Studios
A plaque on a house wall marks the former site of Dickenson Road Studios

Escalating costs and a desire to cater for the robust tastes of northern industrial audiences led to the establishment of the two-stage facility[3] in a former Methodist Chapel on Dickenson Road, Rusholme, the only film studio outside the South East.[1] The buildings were converted at a cost of £70,000 in 1947.[4] Starting with Cup-tie Honeymoon (1948) starring Sandy Powell, over the next six years the films went on to feature northern favourites Frank Randle, Josef Locke, Diana Dors, and Jimmy Clitheroe. The studio, though it often worked on a shoestring, was successful and profitable but Blakely decided to retire when he reached 65.

Mancunian Films continued under Blakeley's son Tom for many years, providing facilities for Hammer Horror and making a number of B-movies. The cinematographic expertise developed in Manchester formed the foundations of Granada Television.

In the 1950s, the growing popularity of television represented competition with cinema, and as the mass media market evolved, numerous film studios were taken over by emerging television broadcasters. In London, the BBC acquired Lime Grove Studios from Gainsborough Pictures in 1949, and Ealing Studios in 1955. Dickenson Road Studios was bought from Mancunian by the BBC in 1954, and it became the first regional BBC Television studio outside London.[1][5] Programmes made by the BBC at the studios included series starring comedian Harry Worth and variety programmes. Notably, the first episode of the pop music television show Top of the Pops was broadcast from Dickenson Road Studio on 1 January 1964, presented by Jimmy Savile and opening with The Rolling Stones performing "I Wanna Be Your Man". The studios remained the home of Top of the Pops until 1967, when the show moved to a larger facility at Lime Grove Studios in London.[6] The Dickenson Road building was demolished in 1975 when operations were transferred to the BBC's new building at New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road.[7]

Mancunian Films Library

Mancunian Films Library, in storage at Kay Laboratories, was lost in a fire in 1980. Mike Blakeley, cameraman and grandson of John E. Blakeley, was reported to be attempting to find and restore all of Blakeley's films in 2003.[4] Working with CP Lee of the University of Salford in promoting the detailed history of the Mancunian Film Studio via film screenings and facts about Mancunian Films and its actors.[5][8][9][10]

Selected filmography

George Formby in Mancunian's 1934 production Boots! Boots!
George Formby in Mancunian's 1934 production Boots! Boots!


  • Williams, Philip Martin & David L. (2001) New Edition(2006) Hooray for Jollywood - The Life of John E. Blakeley & The Mancunian Film Corporation ISBN 978-0-9518012-9-1
  • Montgomery, J. (1969) Comedy Films, 1894-1954 ISBN 0-04-791018-6


  1. ^ a b c Richards, Jeffrey (1997). Films and British National Identity: From Dickens to Dad's Army. Manchester & New York City: Manchester University Press. p. 267. ISBN 9780719047435.
  2. ^ "Film Studios and Industry Bodies: Mancunian Studios". BFI Screenonline. BFI. Archived from the original on 26 December 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  3. ^ Warren, Patricia (2001). British Film Studios: An Illustrated History. London: B.T. Batsford. p. 116.
  4. ^ a b "Mancunian Films". BBC Inside Out. 17 February 2003. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  5. ^ a b Lee, CP (20 January 2012). "Mancunian Film Company History". It's a Hot 'Un. Archived from the original on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  6. ^ "Top of the Pops - BBC Studios (Rusholme)". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Dickenson Rd Wesleyan Methodist, Rusholme, Lancashire". Genuki. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  8. ^ Lee, CP (14 May 2011). "It's a Hot 'Un - Mancunian Film Company Archives". It's a Hot 'Un. Archived from the original on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  9. ^ Lee, CP (14 May 2011). "Mancunian is Born - the Films". It's a Hot 'Un. Archived from the original on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  10. ^ Lee, CP (14 May 2011). "Mancunian Film Company Biographies of the Stars - A-Z". It's a Hot 'Un. Archived from the original on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2020.

See also

External links

This page was last edited on 25 September 2020, at 23:08
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