Cat no. 18

Number One, North Sea

Running time24:50 Colour Sound 1972 Clacton-on-Sea, Essex

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A history of Clacton-On-Sea



The film opens with a comparison of Clacton with other seaside resorts. There are some brief introductory shots of the modern 4 1/2 acre 100 year old pier but most of the film is a history, mainly pre-war. Much of this is told using still photographs and in interviews with Barney Kingsman, who owned the pier until 1971, and the actor Warren Mitchell. There is very little film. The scenes of Clacton Pier in the 1970s include gaming machines, the ten pin bowling rink, the roller coaster Steel Stella, the funfair and the dolphinarium. There are some exterior shots of the Ocean Theatre and the Blue Lagoon Ballroom that could have been taken any time between 1930 and 1950.The film records the ownership of the pier by the Kingsman family between 1922 to 1971. There is an extract of an interview with Barney Kingsman and a still of his father, Ernest Kingsman.The actor Warren Mitchell recalls childhood holidays in Clacton and his earliest performances in Clown Bertram's talent show. These memories are told as an interview to camera.The rest of the story of Clacton Pier is told in stills

Background Information:

During the Napoleonic era, Clacton beach, around the modern pier site, was used as an army firing range. There are still photographs of contemporary engravings showing the scenes as it then was. Military usage is a theme that runs through the history of Clacton Pier. There are stills of the British Army and Navy staging an invasion exercise in 1904.

In 1914, Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, paid an unscheduled visit to Clacton when his plane crash landed on the way to Felixstowe. He was harassed by local suffragettes instead. There are stills of Clacton's children being evacuated in 1939 and of the army arriving to be quartered at the Butlins holiday camp. In February 1940 a mine hit the pier. Stills show the damage that was done. Later the military did more damage, blowing the pier into three pieces so that it couldn't be used for enemy landing craft. The lifeboat had to be stationed at Brightlingsea. The earliest years of the pier are shown, including the original 100 yard pier built in 1870 as a landing station for passengers and goods. The opening of the pier in 1871 is recorded with stills of an engraving of the visit of the paddle steamer, The Queen of the Orwell which visited on a trip from London to Ipswich. The film records the extension of the pier and the buildings that were added from the 1880s to 1932. Once again, much of this is told via stills. The Ocean Theatre was added along with the roller coaster Steel Stella, the Blue Lagoon Ballroom, and in 1932, the swimming pool. (This was turned into a dolphinarium in the early 1970s.)

Performers who appeared at Clacton pier included Roy Hudd, Tony Hancock, Dick Emery and Jimmy Edwards. The film also recalls the career of the children's entertainer, Clown Bertram. Clacton Pier also provided the home and launching site for the Clacton lifeboat from 1886 and the film shows stills of the lifeboat at sea.The film closes with a brief account of the pier post-war and some scenes from the 1970s.

Featured People:

Winston Churchill; Ernest Kingsman; Owners of Clacton Pier 1922 - 1971; Barney Kingsman; Warren Mitchell; John Betjemen (poem quoted using the voice of an actor); Roy Hudd; Tony Hancock; Performers at the Ocean Theatre; Dick Emery; Jimmy Edwards; Clown Bertram.

Featured Organisations:

The Optimists Concert Party; The British Army; The British Navy; The Suffragettes

Featured Buildings:

Clacton Pier; Ocean Theatre; Steel Stella; Buildings on Clacton Pier; Blue Lagoon Ballroom


Douglas Salmon

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