Cat no. 665

Rocket Site Story

Running time20:21 Black & White Sound 1958 Swaffham, Norfolk

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The civil disobedience aimed at preventing construction of a base for the Thor intermediate range ballistic missiles at North Pickenham, near Swaffham in 1958.



Aerial shots showing the countryside around Swaffham, at which the missiles were to be based. The public meeting in the Market Square in Swaffham is filmed with excerpts from speeches. One of these speeches is from a clergyman. There are shots of Swaffham, including the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. The demonstrators move off, marching the three miles to North Pickenham. Many carry banners and CND placards, one of which at least shows an organisation from beyond the region, representing 'Salisbury CND.'

At the site, the marchers are warned that they are trespassing. They also encounter opposition to their stance. This counter demonstration appears to be formed by local people who saw the rocket site as an opportunity to gain employment and earn a good living. On the site the marches attempt to obstruct the lorries and are driven off by the RAF using hoses. Pat Arrowsmith, the leader, expresses determination to continue. After the caption Dec. 20th, 1958, the film becomes silent. Once again the marchers meet in Swaffham and reporters are taking notes on the meeting. The demonstrators march to North Pickenham where they sit and lie in the road. They are removed one by one by police and are loaded into police vans. The police remain calm throughout. There are shots of the base before the film finishes with stills from morning newspapers, showing the headlines generated by the protest.

Background Information:

This film was made by Eric Bamford of the Nuclear Disarmament Newsreel Committee. A Scophony-Baird tape recorder was carried in a pram where it ran off a car battery. The largest protest against the rocket site was held two weeks later.

Featured People:

Pat Arrowsmith, CND

Featured Organisations:


Featured Events:

The civil disobedience aimed at preventing construction of a base for the Thor intermediate range ballistic missiles at North Pickenham, near Swaffham in 1958.

Featured Buildings:

The Church Of St. Peter and St. Paul, Swaffham

Bamford Productions Ltd

Film Projection Service

Concord Films Council

Eric Bamford

Eric Bamford

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