Tag Archives: Films

1930’s propaganda movie filmed in Blackheath

BBC Voice of Britain with the GPO Film Unit
Now here’s a real discovery… The rather wonderful building at the end of Bennett Park, named “The Blackheath Arts Club”, and adorned with a blue plaque, was home to the GPO Film Unit, as mentioned back when this blog was only a baby.

blue_plaque_gpoHaving spent some time googling around looking for more information on the GPO Film Unit, I found many references to a 1930s black and white propaganda movie called “BBC: Voice of Britain”. It was not only produced, but also filmed around Blackheath. There’s more here about it. I’d pretty much given up hope of ever finding a copy, and had written about it in the past, when I spotted a mention of the film on Louis Barfe’s rather wonderful Cheeseford Blog.

I duly fired off an email, and heard nothing until recently, when much to my surprise, he offered to send me a copy of the film! You can watch it here.

But now comes the tricky part – I’ve watched it, and cannot see much in the way of Blackheath there…. Could these be a leafy part of Blackheath?

BBC Voice of Britain, GPO Film Unit, Blackheath

BBC Voice of Britain, GPO Film Unit, Blackheath

They don’t look very familiar to me… In fact, the only part that did look like Blackheath, was this section towards the end, which looks a lot like Bennett Park to me:

BBC Voice of Britain, GPO Film Unit, Blackheath

Anyway, I’ll try to upload the full video somewhere soon, and you can judge for yourselves…. I’d be really interested if you do spot anywhere within Blackheath that I’ve missed – it’s quite likely that I don’t recognise some parts, or that some of the buildings don’t exist any more.

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The only occasion when chocolate milk might be good for you

No Use Crying over spilt milk

I wouldn’t usually recommend anyone going anywhere near flavoured milk, except that on this occasion, you can get to see several classic films for free.

There are quite a few showing at Surrey Quays cinema (not a million miles from Blackheath – take a number 41 bus from outside Lewisham station).  I saw Blade Runner there last week which was, on the whole, great.

They are showing films at Odeon and Cineworld cinemas (click on the respective link to see which ones are on near you).  To get tickets to the Odeon films, you have to print out the page that shows the screening time.  Then take the print out to the cinema (by hand I’m afraid) no more than 7 days before the screening. They’ll only give you a maximum of 2 tickets per person (per print out I guess).  You don’t have to drink any funny coloured milk.

I thought they’d be massively over-subscribed, but Blade Runner only had about 20 people present.  The only downside was the (frankly comical) display of trailers beforehand.  This consisted of an out of focus digital projector being aimed at the screen from the projection booth, wiggled around a bit, focussed in and out again, and then moved around a few more times.  Then someone pressed play on a DVD player connected to the projector, and we had a little bit of some cheesy adverts for Frijj milk.  With no sound.  Then they fixed the sound, spent a few more minutes jiggling the image around, and then played us FIVE trailers.

The trailers were all a pastiche of 1950s B-Movie horror, which initially produced some knowing laughter, but after five in a row, you wonder whether they will ever get around to showing the movie (and whether the movie will be played from a DVD player).

Eventually the movie started (not on DVD I’m glad to say), and a thoroughly good evening was had by everyone.

Pat mentioned in another post:

If you want to see “Blade Runner” for free check out the Frijj festival at the Odeon Greenwich, they are showing it next Thursday 28th August.  We saw Gladiator last week and there were only about twenty people in the cinema.

Photo by Flickr user Dogbomb.

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Films at the Reminiscence Centre

I’d been meaning to write about the Reminiscence Centre for a while now. This is a little gem opposite the station.

The Reminiscence Centre, Blackheath

It is part of a charity that was set up to help elderly people deal with dementia and memory loss, and improving the quality of life for older people who may be at risk of social exclusion. I’m guessing that social exclusion is modern-speak for loneliness. Anyway, it’s a great idea, and is really nicely presented, as a shop from the 1930s with thousands of little pieces of memorabilia hidden away in sets of drawers, as well as a tea room and garden at the back.

I’m sure that if they set up a table or two at the front of the shop, their custom would increase dramatically, but driving in customers is not their main focus.

The Old Bakehouse, Backheath

Behind the garden, there is a large building called The Old Bakehouse, which is used as a kind of community centre, theatre, and cinema. They are running a series of talks on Friday afternoons at 2pm about classic films, actors, and genres. It costs £3, including tea and cake.

  • Friday 23rd May – British Documentaries
  • Friday 20th June – The Films of Peter Sellers

I think it’s a great idea, and very in keeping with the traditions that were set up around the Art Club, and Literary Society that have since disappeared from Blackheath.

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