William Bendon (Founder Member of Lodge Anima No.1223. Past Master No.1223

William Bendon’s name was erroneously omitted from Lodge Anima’s petition to Grand Lodge, and his name does not appear on the Charter as a consequence of him being on an extended cruise to America (New York) at the time the paperwork was completed; and at the consecration of the Lodge.

He was Master of the Lodge 1940-41 and 1941-42

william bendon

 

William Bendon was a gifted ventriloquist who took to the stage during the 1880s, using the stage name "Prince Bendon". He toured the concert and music halls often appearing in programmes with some of Scotland’s best known, entertainers such as Sir Harry Lauder, W.F. Frame and J.M. Hamilton. 

Harry Lauder 1922

Above Sir Harry Lauder

He was intrigued by all things mechanical and even made his own ventriloquist dolls, which enthralled audiences by winking and smoking cigarettes.

dummy smoking

After travelling to London in 1897 to make inquiries about the cinematograph, he introduced "Bendon’s Bioscope", a series of half hour animated picture shows, into his concert programme.

However, it was in film renting that he became most influential. At that time exhibitors had to either buy or produce their own films for show. With rising costs due to the increasing length of films, he saw an opening in the market and established the first film renting company in Scotland: the Bendon Trading Company – advertising itself as "Kinematograph Specialisers, Film Publishers and General Traders.

touring company

Both George Green and J.J. Bennell (cinema entrepreneurs of the time) hired from Bendon before setting up their own renting services. Much of his business was based around American imported films and he often secured films for screening in Scotland before their London premieres.

Besides renting, Bendon also produce films. In 1910, he founded Scotland’s first film studio at Rouken Glen, based in a disused tramway depot. The studio’s first two films were unsuccessful, but in 1911 the three-reeler Rob Roy starring the tenor, John Clyde, was made there.

rouken

In 1919, a transport workers strike meant that film renters had to make alternative arrangements to get their films to exhibitors across Scotland. As a consequence Bendon suggested the establishment of the Glasgow Cinema Club, to manage its own distribution, the first Club of its kind in Britain. He was elected its first President. He retired in 1937 and his sons Bill and Sam took over the running of the business for a few years, after which the company was bought over by United Artists,

united

Bendon was active in pursuits outside cinema, especially cycling and motor boat racing on Loch Lomond, where he was a member of the Scottish Motor Boat Racing Club and the A.A.A. He was also President of the Royal Clyde Motor Yacht Club and of the Scottish Kinematograph Renters Society.

yacht club

A respected and much hailed contributor to Scottish film exhibition Bendon died at his home in Glasgow, aged 83 on 13 December 1943.

 

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