Joseph G. Skittrell

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Joseph G. Skittrell (b. Lambeth, London, 24/08/1882 – d. Wandsworth, London, 25/05/1949) was a British cinematographer and film technician.


Joseph George Skittrell was one of the eight children of Edward Skittrell, a mathematical instrument maker, and his wife Elizabeth Coe. When, in 1904, he married Beatrice Albrecht, he was a mason, but by the time of the 1911 Census he was a “cinematograph camera operator”. In fact, the year before the Publicity and Travel Department of the South African Railways & Harbours sponsored the production of From the Cape to the Zambezi, a so-called “scenic” that was shot by a number of cameramen, including Skittrell and Tommy Crellin. There is a record of him coming out to South Africa in July 1910, but it is not known if he came out specifically for this, nor whether he shot any other films here. In any case, he did not stay long and was back in England by December.

In 1913 he established the Olympic Kinematograph Laboratory in London, which grew from a small company to one that employed more than a hundred people. He also featured prominently in various professional bodies, including the Society of Motion Picture Engineers and the Incorporated Association of Kinematograph Manufacturers. He died in 1949 and in 1957 Olympic Kinematograph was taken over by Rank Laboratories. His wife, Beatrice, was the older sister of South African film pioneer Joseph Albrecht and it is likely that Skittrell was responsible for launching Albrecht’s career. (FO)

(Note: His youngest brother, Kenneth (1920-1992) also was a photographer, but at the time of the 1939 Register he was “incapacitated”.)


Gutsche, Thelma - The history and social significance of motion pictures in South Africa 1895-1940

Kinematograph Year Book 1947

The Bioscope, 16 December 1931

Private correspondence

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