Winton Forum


Sex, violence, showbiz

............... and a chapel in Winton!

Billy Cotton

Diana Dors

Freddie Mills

A blonde bombshell, Britain's favourite band leader and a world champion boxer have at least one thing in common. They are all linked to a former Gospel Hall in Winton.

Now known as Cromwell House, the Calvin Road Gospel Hall was a place of worship for most of the first half of the last century. It was built by well known local builder Charles Burt, an image of whose face appears on a house in Cardigan Road.

Sometime around the middle of the last century it ceased to be a chapel and moved into the possession of the Cotton family - whose best known members were popular bandleader Billy Cotton (of Billy Cotton Bandshow fame), his son Bill who was to become a top BBC Television Executive and Chairman of Meridian Television and his son Teddy who was a film producer.

Film production

From what documents that are available, it appears that the Cottons ran a specialist film company called Cinechrome Ltd from the old Gospel Hall. It produced a string of titles mostly of a business, promotional and scientific nature.

The hall had considerable floor space and neighbours told of Billy Cotton's band rehearsing there, and also of visits from Diana Dors the classic blonde sex bomb of the 1950's and 60's.

Sex kitten

It is believed that the actress came to record presentation and voice work in a studio set up in the roof of the hall. The studio was heavily sound-proofed with straw and other materials. It still exists - although now it has been converted into a toilet!

There were probably a number of other famous people who recorded there, but passed unnoticed by neighbours.

The Fighter

One who didn't go unnoticed, but wasn't there for recording purposes was Parkstone-born World Champion boxer Freddie Mills. He is understood to have used the hall for training - and even got into a fight with a local man outside the Winton YMCA!

Mill's death in 1965 still remains an unsolved mystery. He was found shot dead in his car near to the nightclub he owned in London.

No evidence has ever been produced to clarify whether it was suicide or a gangland killing.

The same kind of uncertainty surrounds the history of Winton's old Gospel Hall. There are local tales, rumours, and reported sightings - but in the end there is very little documentary proof.

The Gospel Hall as it is today

The original 1908 plans

If you have memories of or know more about the history of the Gospel Hall, please contact us via


In April 2013 another production company, called LoveLove films, set up their headquarters in Cromwell House. Shortly after moving in they were informed of the rich film history of the building, and were astounded to now be functioning in premises integral to the early media industry of Dorset.

As a company, previously operating out of the arts university, LoveLove have had many successful projects, ranging from music videos for major artists, such as Yes Sir Boss and Joss Stone, to media installations for the 2012 Olympics, to film festival screened documentary features, and much more. They have also worked with the innovative Bournemouth-based Momo:tempo music project.

Now they're keen to revive the vintage trappings of the building, and do the cinematic heritage of Winton proud. Within days of moving in, Cromwell House's walls were once again host to filmic forays, such as television actors recording voiceover work, music videos being devised and feature films being scripted - bringing the place back to its heyday of the 50s and 60s.

It's fair to say that the film industry has returned to Winton!

LoveLove films website is at