Barber, George Henry

Pioneer of the early cinema world, he was born in Cheshire, but spent most of his life in Stoke on Trent. His mother died when he was five and he and his brother spent several years in lodgings. After working on a farm and in local industry, he was put in charge of the hydraulics at a pit. There he invented a means of making the hydraulics work automatically, a development that was widely adopted and led to his promotion.

He attended evening classes in maths and tonic solfa, married and moved to Golden Hill, Tunstall. At the local WM church he became choirmaster, Sunday School Superintendent and a local preacher. As a temperance advocate began to illustrate his lectures with lantern slides. This led to his involvement in the poineer days of cinematography. Following an Act of 1909 requiring cinemas to be licensed, he built his first cinema in Station Road,Tunstall, later known as the Tunstall Palace. Others followed elsewhere in Stoke on Trent and in other parts of the Midlands.

In 1910 he became a member of the Board of Guardians, and later became a local councillor, was Lord Mayor in 1929-1930 and was given the Freedom of the City in 1945. The family home was Coronation House, Tunstall. He travelled widely in Europe, Russia and the Middle East and wrote the words and music of a hymn called 'Galilee', became an Assopciate of the Royal College of Music and was president of the Burslem Orpheus Male Voice Choir. He died on 21 October 1946.

  • Methodist Recorder, 1 October 2009