[This report was originally entitled "Bristol Bombed" (two sheets)]
Our Good Neighbours
The War was still only nine years into history and Civil Defence and the possibilities of atomic warfare were very much in people's minds. How would Bristol Civil Defence cope with the aftermath of an attack?
The Bristol Evening World of Monday, September 13th l954, published a picture so reminiscent of wartime "Blitz" days with the caption: "BRISTOL BOMBED" and underneath the words: "Memories of the last War are recalled by this picture of the ruins of Aitken-street, Barton Hill, during a Civil Defence Exercise filmed by the Bristol Cine Club for official records".
The production of this film was undertaken by Clifford Stephens who had suggested it be considered as propaganda in the better sense of the word. This was a sentiment echoed by the Staff Officer of HQ section with whom Mr. Stephens was in correspondence. The officer brought out a synopsis containing the points that the C.D. would like emphasised during the making of the film.
The area of the exercise, as shown on a sketch map in the possession of the club, was bounded on the east side by Marsh Lane and on the west by Great Western Lane. Aitken Street is - or was - at the northern end and Glendarest at the south.
Marked on the sketch were camera positions as follows:-
Camera 1 Near site of Civil Defence Control in Glendarest
Camera 2 Barton Street
Camera 3 Middle of Aitken Street with Camera 5
Camera 4 Bush Street
Film Control ... East end of Aitken Street. Mr. Stephens to be there from 0800 hrs to deal with film problems
Scene of Mrs Ted's rescue ... Bush Street covered by Camera 4
C.D. Enquiry point ...East end of Bush Street
"Shell house" ...in Bush Street
Falling walls, fronts of houses demolished and houses on fire.
In addition, the direction of morning and evening sun were shown by arrows.
Filming was to start at 10.00 when a building was to be fired on Netham Ground. A filming programme was most detailed as to times and actions.
The draft script is titled Whence Cometh My Help but the final title was Our Good Neighbours.
The 16 mm black and white film ran for 30 minutes with an optical track. The original idea was that it would be a mere record of the exercise; but this was widened and expanded by the inclusion of acted sequences to link the varied work of the CD branches and by a commentary stressing the need for volunteers.
Planning occupied most of August 1954 while the major part of the filming took place on the one Sunday. Six camera crews were at work: they shot 1800 feet of film, edited in the final film to 1200. Editing was completed by Christmas and the sound track recorded on 3rd January 1955. The final sound print was ready for projection on February 1st.
No credits appear on the film - which, as far as viewers 30 years later are concerned - is a pity. This seemed to be the pattern for several following years. Here we put right the omission.
Our Good Neighbours (1955) 16 mm optical sound
The year 1955 saw 3 Bristol films gaining 4 stars in the Ten Best - there were no Gold Stars awarded then. They were The Bird Book, Grosset's film about diabetics and Our Good Neighbours. Said the judges:
"Each reach the final round, a distinction no other club can boast…..very few approached this high standard".
A copy of this film was sold to the NATO library and to a number of local authorities. It was shown at the Civil Defence Staff College and at the Home Office Civil Defence School.