If you have ever attended one of the long running Film Collectors Fairs that up until recently used to take place at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster then there is a good chance you have seen, if not heard, Tony Hutchinson.
Tony’s son Mark is one of my best friends; we’ve known each other for around 30 years. We used to go to Film Fairs at Westminster and Camden with our other friend Robin. It was at one of these that Mark introduced us to his dad. Tony was a collector and dealer of 16mm film and other related memorabilia such as books and magazines. He was also a larger than life character with a wicked sense of humour.
He knew all his regular customers well- what they were interested in buying and selling and so on. He was a legend in the film collecting community especially amongst those who had an interest in 16mm black and white movies.
Then there were times when the three of us helped Tony with his stall at the fairs. It meant an early morning lugging boxes up and down stairs but it was worth it. Then there were the times when Tony would be on the stall and the three of us would go wandering; if Tony needed something he would quite happily raise his voice and call out for Mark across the halls. No matter where you were you would hear him.
Tony loved a laugh and a joke, usually at someone else’s expense but not always. He only ever made fun of people he knew and the ‘victim’ would know it was harmless fun. I was a target a few times as were both Mark and Robin..
I recall a weekend when myself, Robin and Mark went up to stay with Tony at his house near Leicester. Tony had converted a room into a cinema, complete with screen and projector, surrounded by films books and reels of all kinds. We watched many a movie that weekend and spent some time at a local market browsing the books and such. Then it was back to the house for more films. It was a weekend full of fun and laughter and all three of us were the target of his wind-ups at one point.
Sadly, Tony passed away a couple of weeks ago. It was a huge shock and my thoughts are with Mark as well as his siblings, Sharon and Paul. The Film Fairs will not be the same now that he has gone and the collecting world has lost not only a kind and funny man, but someone who loved the fairs, customers and the ladies.
Rest In Peace Tony, I firmly believe you have already opened up an old-style cinema in the great beyond.