Charles William Trevatt: first-generation cinematographer.
Initially, all we had was the above 1913 baptism record for the daughter of one Charles William Lovatt and his wife Mary. Unfortunately, no corresponding birth certificate was traceable though further scrutiny revealed that the the surname Lovatt might in fact be Trevatt…
Using Charles William Trevatt instead, I did indeed find the documentation required. He was born in 1885, but his place of birth is not specified. All we know is that he ended up residing in the area of Glasgow known as Shettleston. At this time, Shettleston was in the County of Lanark, and was a densely populated industrialised area, home to closely packed tenements and iron foundries.
It was there that Charles met a Glaswegian lass named Mary Kirkwood Spencer who was employed as a wire winder. Once wedded, they settled down at 125 Main Street, Shettleston, and it is fair to believe that he was employed as a cinematographer at Scott’s Electric Theatre – an innovative new enterprise which was opened up in 1912 by George Urie Scott in Gray Street, Shettleston, and was the area’s first cinema. The building had originally been home to the Parkhead Wire Works and the seating consisted of wooden benches. Although popular, it was a short lived venture: as more comfortably equipped cinemas opened elsewhere in the city, Scott’s Electric Theatre declined and it finally closed in 1920.
The next we know is that Charles was employed as cinematographer in Campbeltown picture house when it opened on May 26th, 1913.
By this point, we do know that he and his wife Mary resided at 9 Glebe Street, where their daughter Mary Meikle Trevatt was born that same year.
From “palace of pleasure” to trench warfare.
I would like to imagine that Charles Trevatt was a happy man. He and his Mary had married and had had their first child, and the new Campbeltown Picture House was receiving glowing write-ups in the local Courier. As this extract from May 29th, 1915 attests, it was,
“serving good wholesome entertainment and worthy of all encouragement. In addition to the splendid series of films screened nightly in faultless style by the expert cinematographer Mr. William Trevatt, a delightful music is supplied by Mr. A. Ritchie Greig,” and “under the capable local management of Mr, G.F. Roger, nothing is awaiting to make the Campbeltown Picture House a ‘palace of pleasure’ wherein leisure evening hours may be most agreeably spent.”
Sadly for Charles and his new family, their happiness was to be short lived. Only 2 years later he enlisted with the army to fight in “The Great War”.
In 1919 his wife produced a brother (named for his father) for little Mary, and our investigation into his life peters out.
Jan Silver, July 2017
1.) Baptism record of Mary Meikle, daughter of Charles William Trevatt and Mary Kirkwood Trevatt, as provided by David. O. McEwan, St Kieran’s Episcopal Church, Campbeltown.
2.) ‘Scott’s Electric Theatre’, Glasgow City Archives [TD 1271/1/1/37]