• South West Silents

Getting the Beers In for Bristol’s Own William Friese-Greene

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

William Friese-Greene Beer Launch

South West Silents are proud to announce, in collaboration with the Bristol-based brewery Dawkins Ales, the very tasty return of the wonder that is the Friese-Greene beer! First launched in 2016 and a regular on the pub scene throughout the autumn season since, the beer celebrates one of most iconic figures in the early years of British Cinema and one of Bristol’s least celebrated sons: William Friese-Greene.


Born in Bristol on 7th September 1855, William Edward Green (the Friese-Greene was added later) is classed by many as one of the founding fathers of British Cinema and a key figure in the early development of cinematography as a whole. In some circles he is celebrated, while in others he is damned for filing patents on devices he allegedly didn’t invent.

07/04/2010 william friese green

A successful photographer, Friese-Greene opened a number of photographic studios in Bristol, Bath, and Plymouth, before moving his business to London. While managing these shops as well as his business partners, Friese-Greene was experimenting on new forms of colour photography, as well as capturing motion pictures. This particular part of his life became the subject of the 1951 feature film The Magic Box starring Robert Donat, Margaret Johnston, Richard Attenborough and Laurence Olivier.


Over the years Bristol has celebrated Greene by erecting three plaques to the man: firstly a black plaque which can easily be missed when walking past a night club on the Triangle in Clifton. Another was placed outside the Orpheus Cinema in 1939 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his being awarded the guaranteed patent for his own Kinematograph in 1889. Finally a plaque was unveiled at his home at 12 College Street in 1955, which was later moved when the council knocked the building down in 1959. It now sits next to College Green. All told, I think we could do better than just a few plaques here in Bristol!


Since the launch of the beer in 2016 we have been able to work on another of events looking at the work of both William and his son Claude Friese-Greene (1898-1943) and happy to say that we will be doing a number of events in 2021 alongside Bristol Festival of Ideas. Also, filmmaker and writer Peter Domankiewicz has launched William Friese-Greene & Me a fascinating blog about his investigations about the life and work of William.

Donat, Robert (Magic Box, The)_NRFPT_03

So on every 7th September 2019 (Greene’s birthday in fact) we celebrate Friese-Greene’s birthday by launching a beer dedicated to the great man. The beer, named, The Friese-Greene will be launched at the Dawkins’ pub The Victoria, Clifton (next to the Lido) with a selection of films inspired by the work of William Friese-Greene as well as early colour films.

Check out the artwork for the Beer Pump Clip:

Friese Greene 2018 FINAL

So come and join us and celebrate one of the great film pioneers who ever lived, William Friese-Greene!


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#Bristol #EarlyCinema #BristolHistory #silentfilm #Beer #BritishCinema #WilliamFrieseGreene

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