BLUE PLAQUE FOR MARGARET LOCKWOOD Actress’s love of cinema began watching silent movies in the Crystal Palace – special screening of ‘The Lady Vanishes’ at our new Everyman cinema follows!

A blue plaque for actress Margaret Lockwood, star of films such as ‘The Lady Vanishes’ and ‘The Wicked Lady’ is to be unveiled at her former home at 14 Highland  Road, Upper Norwood on Wednesday 21st November.

The event will be followed by a special screening of ‘The Lady Vanishes’ in OUR new Everyman cinema at 25 Church Road – but you must book a ticket in advance.

The star’s great granddaughter Julia Clark will unveil the plaque at midday. Among those attending the ceremony organised by English heritage will be  Lyndsy Spence, founder of the Margaret Lockwood society and author of a recent biography of the actress.

The book opens with three and a half year old Margaret, her seven-year-old brother Lyn and their mother Margaret Evelyn arriving from India at Liverpool docks to make their way south to their new home near Gipsy Hill station. The year is 1920.

Covering their childhood at Lunham Road and her early interest in Sunday school at Christ church, it is her mother whose interest in cinema sees the family go to watch films in the Crystal Palace.

(In one of her own autobiographies Margaret Lockwood recalled going to the cinema in the Crystal Palace where she was inspired by Betty Bronson – a leading lady of the 1920s who did not succeed in talkies – in the film of Peter Pan (1924) which the young Margaret managed to watch every night for a week.)

Margaret, after attending Belvedere college (address not yet discovered but one source says she attended a school in Belvedere Road), goes to Sydenham high school for girls where she felt she did not belong. Matters are made worse by her teacher Miss Hobson taking a dislike to her.

In 1929 the family move to a new home in Highland Road, paid for by Margaret’s father who was banished from the place. Margaret’s sporadic attendances at Sydenham lead to her mother and the headmistress mutually agreeing she should be removed from the school.

In the spring of 1933 pupil 4577 Lockwood, Mary, Margaret enters RADA. She wins a scholarship but refuses it because the girl who had tied with her for first place was an Australian whose parents could not afford to keep her at the academy without a grant.

Lyndsy Spence’s book also chronicles the bizarre fascination Margaret’s mother had of watching bombs fall on London from the bathroom window – but gets her comeuppance one night when a bomb lands near their home, causing her mother to end up on the bathroom floor.

The plaque unveiling will be followed by a  free screening of ‘The Lady Vanishes’ at Everyman Cinema Crystal Palace, 25, Church Road, Crystal Palace, London, SE19 2TE. Doors will open at 1.00 pm for a screening at 1.30 pm.

Seats need to be booked directly via Eventbrite from 5 November at www.eventbrite.co.uk

IMAGES COURTESY OF THE CINEMA MUSEUM KENNINGTON TO WHOM HUGE THANKS

Further reading: Margaret Lockwood Queen of the Silver Screen is published by Fantom Films at 19.99.

Lucky Star the autobiography of Margaret Lockwood (Odhams Press London 1955)

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