Thursday, October 23, 2008

Moor Hall in Wartime.

Soon after World War had started The J. Arthur Rank Organization of which Odeon Cinemas were a part, decided to evacuate the whole of their Wardour Street staff to the country for safety. Moor Hall was the chosen site because not only was it a very large house, the existing grounds were large enough to erect a network of temporary buildings, not only for their staff to work in, but to provide accommodation as well. So wooden barrack type blocks were built very quickly and the move was completed.
To look after the day to day running of this new working offices and hotel complex came one Miss Freda Salberg, who ran the place in such a way that it would put any Regimental Sergeant Major to shame, yet, while being very firm, she also had that motherly touch for those who were in her care, and that care spilled over into the village and the people. She was an avid Sweet Pea grower, and annual battles with the Police Sergeant Hollumby were something to watch at show time in the Pinder Hall. It was one day as I was delivering a load of well-rotted farmyard manure to the police station, that she stopped me in the village. She intimated that she must have the same. I told her that she would have to ring the farm manager and place an order. By the time I returned to White Place, I was told that my next load was for Miss Salberg, and I was to fork it over the fence at the bottom of her garden.
Stage and Radio Artist: Vic Oliver

Her wartime work and acts of kindness knew no bounds. She organized various events, such as Whist Drives for Savings Drives. Also, though her wide knowledge of actors and actresses in both film, stage and radio, she was able to put on some very good evenings in the large dinning hall for such events as, War Weapons Week, Warship Week and Wings for Victory, with a great many West End Bands, all of who fell under her charm of persuasion.

One person I remember well was Vic Oliver who was married to Winston Churchill’s daughter Sarah. Another couple was the Canadian couple Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon, who came over from Canada to entertain the troops and made a big, hit with the British public on radio as well.

Bebe Daniels & Ben Lyon.

After the war was over, and the J. Arthur Rank staff had said their sad farewells to the village., Miss Salberg stayed on to take on The new fledgling company of Gaumont British Animations who arrived to fill a new venture, with David Hand from the Walt Disney Studios. Another well known character who worked there as a cartoon Director was Bert Felstead, who will be well remembered in the Pinder Hall Pantomimes.

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