30 Dec 2011

Church Hill - Ford Fiesta advertisement (1979)


...and now a commercial break! The actor Jeff Rawle had been known for playing the title role in the television version of Billy Liar a few years earlier and has had a long career with shows such as Drop The Dead Donkey and Hollyoaks. Playing opposite him (quite literally) in this ad is David Janson, himself well known at that time for his part in the RAF based sitcom Get Some In.

I witnessed this being filmed (and if memory serves it really was celluloid) on a day in 1979. What was extraordinary was the sheer scale of the production.  Church Hill and Red Lion Street were closed off for the day. Church Hill was made to appear bi-directional with two rows of cars positioned between Sheep Lane and the market square. All the usual paraphernalia of a film crew was there, giant lights, huge camera, vans and lorries, scores of technicians and extras all headed by a director in a sheepskin coat hollering orders through a megaphone. At his command "two-thousand eight hundred and forty-nine pounds" the cars would move off and carry on until the shout of "cut". Then the cars would be reversed back into position and the whole process started again.

Everything you see on screen was part of the production, every car and driver and the passers by. There are two girls who spent the day walking a few steps down the hill then back up again to their start position, they are barely visible for the few seconds they appear. I don't know how many takes were done but I saw several in the course of about an hour and the crew were there all day.

That they were filming a car advertisement  was quite obvious so I knew what to look out for. Even so, when it did finally appear a few months later I'd seen it a couple of times before I realised it was the one I had seen being shot ... the Midhurst part forms only 15 seconds of the final commercial.

The car itself was the Ford Fiesta Popular, a new version of Ford's smallest car cut down to a minimum specification and at a price that (allegedly) would make a mini owner jealous.  I couldn't help feeling though that they could have cut another hundred or so off if they hadn't spent so much on the ad.

Why Midhurst was chosen I have no idea, it would not be well known to viewers (unlike, for instance, the Albert Hall or Piccadilly Circus seen later in the commercial). The same part of Midhurst was used some thirty years later in episodes of Foyle's War.  I wonder if perhaps anyone involved with Foyle had earlier worked on this Fiesta advertisement?

24 Dec 2011

"Down Your Way" 6. George Cloke


The final part of "Down Your Way" and my last upload until after the Christmas festivities.

For this interview we go over to Midhurst Whites for some facts about the brickworks from George Cloke  (who helpfully begins by spelling his name so I know I've got it correct). Followed by a summary of his visit to Midhurst from Brian Johnston.

Music from the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra playing Weber's Invitation to the Waltz.

"Down Your Way" 5. John Boulton


Three miles up the Guildford road, north of Midhurst to "the world-famous" King Edward VII Hospital, to talk to the secretary John Boulton for this fifth interview. Perhaps the most poignant so far as John outlines, with some pride, the hospital's past achievements and plans for the future. Of course at that time neither John nor anyone else would have had any suspicion that thirty years hence the hospital, founded in 1903, would be no more.

John's record choice was Imperial Echoes played by the Band of the Coldstream Guards.

23 Dec 2011

"Down Your Way" 4. Gladys Werry


Time now for Brian Johnston to discover more about stoolball so it's off to Little Ashfield to talk to the president of Midhurst Stoolball Club, Mrs. Gladys Werry. Not surprisingly the discussion involves several comparisons between this ancient Sussex game and cricket, Johnners rather tactfully covering his scepticism at the suggestion that the Sussex game is older.

Mrs. Werry reveals in the interview that she was previously a player for the club and was once skipper. Beyond that I have not discovered much about Gladys bar this (dare I say slightly amusing)  article from the Reading Eagle of 21 March 1971 which shows she had been widowed by the time of the recording.

The music choice was Harry Secombe singing the Drinking Song which comes, of course, from The Student Prince.

"Down Your Way" 3. Adrian Hill


Down to "Laundry Cottages" in the shadow of Cowdray Ruins now to talk with the artist Adrian Hill. From 1958-1962 Adrian presented a BBC television programme called Sketch Club in which he demonstrated drawing skills. Children could send in their own drawings and (according to the show's  IMDb entry) Ronnie Wood was a regular contributor.

It is evident in this interview that Adrian and Brian Johnston were already acquainted, presumably from their BBC connection. Adrian talks about how he came to Midhurst when recovering from tuberculosis and how he introduced the concept of occupational therapy to the King Edward VII Sanatorium, a subject revisited in the later interview with John Boulton.

For his music Adrian chose the theme from Sketch Club, which was taken from The Sleeping Princess and played by the Finlandia Orchestra.

22 Dec 2011

"Down Your Way" 2. Philip Tatham


As the Band of the Grenadier Guards playing Richard Knight's musical selection Sussex By The Sea fades away, Brian Johnston moves to Cowdray Park to interview the Polo Manager, Colonel Philip Tatham.

By coincidence, I completed my work on this upload on the day of the 35th anniversary of Colonel Tatham's death in December 1976. I emailed Robert Collingwood, the owner of the Tatham Family History website, who added a link to the interview. The site contains a lot of details about the colonel's interesting life and career, but sadly neither Robert nor I have a picture of  "Bolshie" Tatham so instead I inserted one of Brian Johnston into the video.

As mentioned yesterday, the recording level problem effecting the first interview had been sorted out so this segment, and the ones that follow, are quite audible.

Colonel Tatham's music choice was The Keel Row played by the Band of the Honourable Artillery Company.

21 Dec 2011

"Down Your Way" 1. Richard Knight


At some time in the mid-seventies Brian Johnston brought his radio programme Down Your Way to Midhurst. The format of the show, which had been running since 1946, was an interview with a local person followed by a piece of music chosen by them, repeated six times. A set of mini Desert Island Discs for ordinary people.

This first interview was with Richard Knight who had lived all his life in Midhurst and had served as a page boy during the visit of King Edward VII in 1906.

As recounted in the book "Midhurst in Living Memory", Richard sadly died after the recording and before the programme was broadcast.

This recording of the broadcast was made on a reel-to-reel tape recorder (bought appropriately at one of G. Knight & Son's auctions) and the sound quality is quite poor due to the levels being set too high. This was luckily fixed during the first piece of music so the subsequent clips are much more audible. For this one a transcription has been made and I think it is accurate, but I still have some doubts about who or what is got in from the common (at 4:01) or exactly where the curfew is rung (4:14).

The exact date of the recording is no known but it  must have been made in either 1974 or 1975.

Midhurst Grammar School Strike 1962


Mick Robertson was well known in the seventies as the presenter of the children's television programme Magpie, and following that Freetime. He was also a former pupil of Midhurst Grammar School and took part in the student demo of 1962 in protest at the UK government's "mute acquiescence" to the worsening situation in Cuba.

This clip is from the Noel Edmonds hosted BBC show The Time of Your Life from 1982 in which Mick talks about his experience of some twenty years earlier and his thoughts about the headmaster that permitted the protest, NBC "Luke" Lucas.

As is common with these recordings, the first few seconds are missing due to the time lag involved between realising the importance of the item and getting the recorder up and running with a blank tape in. What is missing is the newspaper articles being read (in the same way as the ones that conclude the clip). I have substituted a scan from the local paper as reproduced in the book "Midhurst Grammar School Remembered", which itself carries an item on the strike.


OK, so what is there here?

I started a few weeks ago by taking my old recordings, many of which have already been digitised, and uploading them to the internet where they can be seen at:  Midhurst Media Archive on YouTube

 “Midhurst Media Archive” is perhaps a little pretentious. It isn't the Midhurst media archive, it is just one of them - mine.  But I couldn't think of a better title so that’s what it is for now. Other archives are available.

If they are already on YouTube why have this blog? Well a couple of reasons. A blog has a much greater capacity for posting descriptions, comments and additional material such as pictures, than is available on YouTube. In addition, cross-linking two sites improves the search engine rankings.

At the time of writing the excellent Midhurst pages hosted by Violet Designs is still going strong. However it looks like some of the other Midhurst related websites are broken in some way. The forum on Midhurst.net has been disabled and the Midhurst Society’s website is currently an advert for retiring in Australia. Therefore it seems to me that I wouldn’t be stepping on anyone’s toes by starting this blog.

A notice about the material here: all the uploads adhere to YouTube’s  rules on copyright and it is not my intention to breach anybody’s rights. I have not provided anything that is commercially available and where appropriate music has been edited out. Nevertheless, if you find something that you think should not be here please let me know.




You don’t know me and I don’t know you… so a quick introduction.

Actually, of course, that might not be true. Perhaps we have met. If, like me, you have lived for any length of time in the town of Midhurst then our paths may well have crossed. I am assuming you have found this blog as the result of an internet search for Midhurst, or Easebourne or Cowdray; or maybe you clicked on a link on a related site. Either way, if we don’t know each other we at least share an interest in the town of Midhurst in West Sussex.

Recent years have seen a marked increase in awareness of  Midhurst’s past.  An impressive display of old documents, photographs and artefacts was mounted in St. Margaret’s Convent in 2007, followed by two smaller scale exhibitions at the Spread Eagle and Capron House.

The Midhurst Society published a series of excellent “Midhurst Heritage” magazines between 2004 and 2009. In 2010 the society launched the book “Midhurst in Living Memory” at the aforementioned Capron House event, the culmination of their oral history project. In the same year a group of past and present teachers published “Midhurst Grammar School Remembered”, a wonderful souvenir collection of reminiscences of the school.

I have been inspired by these efforts to share my own memories and material of growing up in Midhurst but sadly there are a couple of problems. Principally my memory isn’t very good, and add to that overzealous adherence to a minimalist lifestyle in my youth (not pointing fingers but not necessarily my own choice) means I don’t have much to jog it. What I do have, however, is a collection of old sound and video tapes of various formats and it is to these that this blog is dedicated.

I hope you find something of interest here. Maybe a recording you remember from the past and have forgotten about or (as in at least one case already) the voice of a relative long passed away that you didn’t know existed. If so, please feel free to comment.

Ok, so introductions over. On with the show…

GH (Dec 2011)