Cat no. 1352

Southwold Past And Present

Running time20:23 Colour Sound 1976 Southwold, Suffolk

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A compilation of films featuring the Suffolk town, Southwold, and its surrounds.


Portrait of a Place

The film begins showing a static shot of the Southwold lighthouse and stills of the town c. 1900. Some of these show the Swan Hotel.The film shows a view along Southwold High Street, shot from a moving car. This is followed by various street scenes and views of the promenade. There is a shot of a cyclist cycling across South Green and a shot of a brewery dray in the street. The film cuts away to surrounding marshland and shows cows drinking water from a stream. There is also a shot of Might's Bridge and further street scenes, including the Town Hall. The commentary explains that until 1974 Southwold was a Borough and therefore self governing.

The film continues showing the Mayor and Aldermen in the Market Square in 1927. This film is a record of the presentation of the gold medal of the Royal Humane Society and the Freedom of the Borough of Southwold to Mr. Henry Smith in 1927. Mr. Smith the mate of a Lowestoft drifter had saved the life of a Southwold fisherman. The Mayor of Southwold, Mr. E.C. Allen and the Sergeant at Mace, Mr. Charles Moore, together with members of the Corporation, are seen ascending the platform. The presentation follows. There are scenes of the crowd showing people coming up to the platform to shake Mr. Smith's hand. The film shows a still of a notice reading; Borough of Southwold. Notice. The Corporation will perambulate the Bounds of the Borough. Monday, August 6th, 1928. The Corporation and their followers are seen in Southwold High Street outside the Town Hall. They are equipped with the traditional willow canes. Next, they are shown on the beach with a band. Finally, they are shown in rowing boats by the Quay. The commentary explains that this ceremony was last performed in 1973.

There are modern shots of the sea front and views of the Town Hall with a street market in progress, the Swan Hotel and the Church. A cricket match is being played on the common.

The next sequence shows one of the Duke Of York's Boys' Camps, filmed on August 6th, 1936. The commentary features Barrett Jenkins recalling the camps, that ran from 1931 to 1938. The Duke of York leaves a tent accompanied by other members of the camp. Against a background of marquees the Duke is seen walking along, reading a book. There is a shot of a group of camp members waving to the camera and the film finishes with a high angle shot of the whole camp.

There are further modern promenade and beach scenes. Stills show bathing machines on the beach. Another still shows the Southwold Pier with the Belle Steamer, that ran from London to Yarmouth, approaching.

The next sequence shows Southwold fishermen from c. 1927. This film shows the Smith brothers at work on the beach in front of their net shed. Their fishing boat is on the beach. There are close up shots of Mathew attending to the sails, of Mark driving a stake into the shingle and of Luke mending nets. There is a shot of the three of them, all smoking pipes. The three look out to sea leaning on their boat. Wally Upcraft, harbourmaster and fishermen, recalls the fishing industry in Southwold. There are scenes of fishermen shaking out sprats from nets. The Smith brothers wind the capstan and there is a shot c. 1976, of a capstan. There are stills of herring boats and then further shots of fishermen shaking out their nets. The Harbour Inn is featured. On its wall is a notice indicating the flood level in 1953. There are further scenes on the quay. On board a boat, fishermen are washing flat fish. There is a view of the harbour entrance and of a capsized sailing dingy. A motor boat passes.

Film from c. 1960 shows the coaster Calyx attempting to dock at Southwold. The crew are attempting to pull the boat in. The coaster tries and fails to turn in the harbour and hits the harbour wall. The last shot is of the Calyx berthed. Some men walk by on the quay. Modern film shows a couple walking along the sea wall; there is a view over the river to Southwold from Walberswick.

A film sequence shows The Blyth, the new Southwold ferry, in 1930. There are shots of the old steam ferry being towed away by the paddle tug, Pendennis. This kept running until 1942. The Inshore Lifeboat is launched and speeds out to sea. There is film of the lifeboat station and a still of the beach lifeboat and of a wreck. Archive film shows men at work on the motor lifeboat Mary Scott. A rowing boat, containing women and children, rows out to meet the lifeboat. There is a shot of the lifeboat dressed overall and then shots of the lifeboat at sea with the crew attending to the rigging once again. The film ends with shots of the lifeboat steaming out of the harbour, towards the sea. This is followed by film showing the Lowestoft fishing smack, 'Evala', beached at Southwold in 1934. There are men aboard the 'Evala', seemingly attending to the rigging. The tide is coming in and the sea appears rough. Crowds are gathering on the beach to watch. Some have brought their dogs. Also on the beach are a couple of fishermen, sorting through their catch as though nothing had happened. This sequence is completed by a panning shot of a lifeboat crew in the town square. This is actually the Kessingland lifeboat crew who had come to watch the presentation to Henry Smith mentioned above.

The next Contemporary film shows the fair setting up on South Green. Archive film from 1928 shows the arrival of the fair in a long cavalcade up Southwold High Street. The attractions are hauled by lorry, steam engine and are horse drawn. One reads 'G. Summers, Amusement Caterer, Bury St. Edmunds.' There are crowds viewing the parade that has to move over for other traffic if required. The Town Clerk reads the proclamation opening the fair, surrounded by the Mayor and other dignitaries in a large crowd. The Mayor and others are seen on the gallopers taking the first ride. A shot of the helter skelter completes the film. The modern Parish council perform the same ritual c. 1976.The next sequence shows the remains of the Southwold railway. There is film of a modern BR train at Halesworth and of the overgrown site that was the Southwold Railway terminal. The few remains of the Southwold Railway are shown; a piece of track, the signal box and an old sign reading Halesworth for Southwold. The route of the railway is shown, overgrown and hardly recognisable.This cuts to two films shot towards the end of the life of the Southwold Railway.

The first film, a local film, shows Halesworth L.N.E.R. station with the Southwold Railway platform running alongside. A Southwold Railway engine is shown pulling in. The train carries a mixed load of passenger carriages and goods wagons. The scene moves to Southwold. The Station Master at Southwold, Mr. Bert Girling, is shown along with interior shots of the passenger carriages. The station motor bus is shown along with busy scenes on the platform, including goods being unloaded on to a horse and cart.

The second film, which ends this film, was made professionally by Gaumont. The film opens with an engine emerging from a shed at Southwold Station. Others are standing by, semi-derelict. The Station Master is seen to wave a flag and then the train pulls away from the platform. There is a close-up shot of the train that pulls a mixture of passenger carriages and goods wagons. Goods carried include milk churns and coal. There is an interior shot of the carriage. The guard is checking tickets. The men in the foreground appear to be conscious of the camera. A signalman is seen to put down his newspaper before emerging from his box to change the signal. There is a shot of the train steaming along the line and then passing the camera. In the next sequence, passengers alight from the train at Halesworth and goods, including mail bags, are unloaded. The train pulls off.


The 1976 scenes filmed by David Cleveland are catalogued as Cat 505 Southwold, Suffolk, 1976 - 'Southwold Cameo'

Featured People:

HRH The Duke Of York Henry Smith; Mr. E.C. Allen, The Mayor of Southwold, 1927 Luke Smith; Birt Girling, Station Master, Southwold Mark Smith; Mr. Charles Moore, Sergeant at Mace, 1927 Matthew Smith

Featured Organisations:

The Southwold Railway Company.

Featured Events:

The dedication service for the Mary Scott in July 1926; The presentation of the gold medal of the Royal Humane Society and the Freedom of the Borough of Southwold to Mr. Henry Smith, 1927; Beating of The Bounds, 1928 ; The closure of the Southwold Railway, 1929; Trinity Fayre, 1928 ; The Duke Of York's Boys' Camp, 1936

Featured Buildings:

The Swan Hotel; Southwold Town Hall; Southwold Lighthouse;

David Cleveland

David Cleveland

Robert Dougal

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