Saturday, March 2, 2013

War Games in Tonbridge....

If you've never seen The War Game, a 1965 short film, which shows us, through the eyes of some 1960s film producers, what a nuclear holocaust might look like then have a gander at this on YouTube. I think I may have seen the odd clip of this film before and seem to remember the very bizarre comments from some of the people in it as they talk about how they'd barricade their houses against a nuclear attack with 17 shillings and 6 pence worth of sand bags! and how one middle aged gentleman keeps a twelve bore rifle in his fall out shelter and "wouldn't hesitate to use it!" I would urge you to watch it, not because it's a great film and social comment about a post war time full of underlying fear, but because I've just discovered that many of the scenes of devastation were filmed in Tonbridge! Not that our town looks at all like it's been hit by a nuclear bomb, far from it most of the time. But, so I'm reliably informed, when the Vale Road houses along the railway track were being demolished they provided just the perfect location for such a film.....


Paul Bailey said...

I saw the War Game as an impressionable 17 year old, at a private showing held at Ashford Pub;ic Library back in the early 1970's. I understand the film was made by the BBC, but the government of the day (Harold Wilson's from memory), prevented it from being broadcast. This was on the grounds it would cause mass panic, but more probably they were fearful of a backlash against the use of nuclear weapons.

You are correct about the location. My wife, who is a Tonbridge girl, remembers the filming taking place, shortly befoe the houses in Vale Road were pulled down.

When I have a spare moment I will click on the YouTube link and watch the film again.

Paul Bailey said...

What I forgot to say in my comments above was that as an impressionable 17 year old, I found the film quite disturbing, which was obxiously the programme makers' intention. It may also help explain why it was not broadcast at the time.

I do vaguely recall my parents talking about it. Back in the 60's there was a very real threat of nuclear annihalation. I was eight years old at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but don't remember anything about it.

I do remember being dragged around an open air, "Civil Defence" exhibition, by my parents, held at Mote Park, Maidstone. I think it's purpose was to inform those interested enough to attend, of what to do, should the bomb drop. People were really concerned about such things back then. By people, I mean adults, us kids weren't bothered in the slightest, (ignorance is bliss?). For us, this exhibition was just a day out, albeit not a very exciting one!

hallum said...

After the establishment had the film pulled, the director, Peter Watkins, was very angry for years afterwards.

This was before Lady Olga Maitland started her organisation 'families for the bomb' In the seventies or early eighties. Actually these things all come around again. Last week some tory ministers proposed that the welfare payments should be reduced and the money diverted to military expenditure (including our own nuclear threat called Trident)

Then today's lady Olgas good start compulsory fundraising from 'poor families for the bomb'

The War Game cast were all local amateur actors, many from the Oast theatre. Look out for the po faced announcer in the film. A certain George Young of Tonbridge. Still about today and it stikes me that he has hardly aged at all.