Primrose_Signature.JPG
Primrose's signature.
Mr Alexander Ferguson Primrose (O.B.E.) makes a constant appearance in The National Archives files relating to the film departments of both the Travel and Industrial Development Association (TIDA) and the British Council, acting as Secretary to both the Joint Film Committee and the British Council Film Committee until his resignation in 1946. He is the only individual to have been involved in the production of the entirety of both films collections, from sometime before 1936 to 1946.

Born in 1889, Primrose was an accountant by the time he joined the City of Edinburgh (Fortress) Royal Engineers (No.2 Electric Light Company) during World War I[1] . He appears to have been appointed to the rank of Captain by 21 December 1914[2] , though a mistake in the London Gazette in September 1917 confuses the matter[3] . It appears that during his service, he may have been officer-in-charge of the searchlights on the island of Inchcolm (see blow). In 1919 his permanent address was listed as the Primrose Hill area of Dumfries, Scotland. He resigned his commission, retaining the rank of Captain, on 17th December 1920[4] , at the age of 31.

It is uncertain as to what he did for the next decade, but by the formation of the Joint Film Committee in 1936, it seems that Primrose has been working for TIDA for some time. In this role, he appears to have been largely in charge of the administrative side of TIDA's film operations; approaching film-makers about new titles, corresponding with production companies, and producing memos on developments.

When TIDA ceased its filmic operations with the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the British Council carried on their work. This included finishing some titles whose production had been started by TIDA, and continuing distribution under the name of TIDA for a while. As a part of this complicated hand over, Primrose was rapidly hired by the British Council, where he became Secretary of the Film Department and carried on with similar tasks as before.

When the British Council's film department hands over its production to the Central Office of Information (COI) early in 1946, many members of the British Council Film Department move to the COI, whilst other resign. Primrose appears to be among the first to leave, and it is noted that he has already resigned by April 1946[5] , at the age of 57.

The details of his life after this point are vague.
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Chipping Campden appears in 'Border Weave' (1941)


It appears that he wrote to Sir William Lawrence Bragg in February 1962, from his home in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire[6] (a village which happens to feature in the 1941 film Border Weave). In this letter, he mentions his interactions with Bragg's father, Sir William Henry Bragg whilst he was officer-in-chief of the searchlights on the island of Inchcolm, near Edinburgh. Together they apparently did some scientific experiments with said searchlights on the transmission of sound with a light beam. Primrose says that the elder Sir William and his wife were very kind to him at the time, and that he met the elder Sir William again in 1942-43, at a conference on plans for the production of prestige scientific films.

Death records list that he died in 1969 in Gloucestershire, feasibly in Chipping Campden, aged 80.






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  1. ^ Where his paymaster was Cox & Co.
  2. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 25 March 1918 (3719).
  3. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 8 September 1917 (9345).
  4. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 16 December 1920 (12390).
  5. ^ TNA BW 2/381 - '(Transfer to COI) Books, Periodicals, and Publications'
  6. ^ A.F.Primrose to Lawrence Bragg - W.L. BRAGG.52B.49 - 24 Feb. 1962