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History of the CTBF

The cinema industry in the UK was fairly well established by 1913, with over 3,000 cinemas. It was, however, a fragmented industry that had sprouted up quickly, and in the early days the thousands employed were on relatively low pay, even by the standards of the time. By the 1920s, employers and philanthropists recognised the need to deal with the social conditions and sometimes desperate situations that cinema employees were facing.

In April 1925, the first meeting of the Cinematograph Trade Benevolent Fund took place in 33 Soho Square and the Fund received its very first donation – the proceeds of the Cinematograph Garden Party held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, which yielded the impressive sum of £2,551.10s.10d.

One of the first donors was cinema pioneer Sir William Jury, who not only made an early contribution to the Fund of £1,000, but in 1935 bought Glebelands – a large country house in Berkshire - for the Fund to use as a rest and convalescent home. See our News Page for the latest updates on Glebelands Care Home.

The great names in the British cinema industry – Delfont, Samuelson, Rank , Woolf – run through the history of the fund, just as today it enjoys the patronage of Lords Puttnam and Grade, and the support of our most talented film-makers and performers, including Sir Alan Parker, the multi-award winning director, and the Broccoli family, producers of the James Bond franchise.

Our Royal Patron

HM The Queen, is the current Royal Patron of the Fund – a role she inherited from her father HM King George VI.

1946 saw the first Royal Command Film Performance at the Empire Cinema Leicester SquareA Matter of Life and Death, the Powell and Pressberger film starring David Niven, Roger Livesey, Kim Hunter and Raymond Massey. It was attended by TRH King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret.

The Royal Film Performance remains a fundraising mainstay for the fund and has included such iconic titles as Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “A Passage to India”, the latter produced by former Trustee the late Lord Brabourne, in whose memory the current John Brabourne Awards are named.

By 1964, the influence of television was beginning to have an impact and Lord Rank proposed the modernisation of the fund. The name was subsequently changed to Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund and for the first time, membership and benefits were extended to staff members in the Independent Television Companies.

Further modernisation took place in 1972 with the appointment of the first full time Executive Director – a salaried employee who would take over the running of the Fund, answerable to the President and Trustees.