Legacy of Enid Blyton celebrated at Orpington film festival
PUBLISHED: 18:16 21 March 2014 | UPDATED: 18:16 21 March 2014
Many towns have their own famous figures to make residents feel proud of their heritage.
For Beckenham, that person is children’s author Enid Blyton, whose books have captured hearts and imaginations for generations.
Blyton spent her childhood in Bromley and her experiences of growing up will be explored at a film group’s spring show.
Orpington Video and Film Makers group member Mike Shaw stumbled across some old reels in Bromley Library eight years ago which included some featuring the author.
After painstaking research, he has created a Kent Film Festival award-winning dramatisation of Blyton’s childhood.
Mr Shaw, 83, who took on the project with his Footprint Productions club, said: “It is the story of her life before she became a writer. It tells how she became a writer against the odds.
“We had to do a lot of research to get the story accurate and to find out who had the copyright for the material and whether we could get permission to use it – but we are absolutely delighted with the result.”
Blyton, who is played by a number of actresses in the short film, moved to Beckenham in 1897.
She remained there while growing up and, after moving away for a short while, returned to the area in 1926 when she lived at 83 Shortlands Road with her husband. They left in 1929.
Mr Shaw, who lives in West Wickham and has been with the Film Makers for five years, said: “We talked with her family for the film and have shown it to them. Her daughter Imogen and niece Mary have both seen and approved it.”
Though the Enid Blyton film is a key attraction at this week’s film festival, there are many other pieces being shown.
One is an advert for civil defence from 1958 called Firtree Garden. It shows two young boys pushing a cart around when they come across a bomb submerged in undergrowth.
They load it on the cart, take it along Orpington High Street and then into Firtree Garden, before it goes off.
The advert, which then shows the response of civil defence and emergency services, was made in the hopes of recruiting people at the height of the Cold War.
Another attraction at the festival will be footage shot by club members around the borough in the past year.
Mr Shaw said: “The newsreel is always well-received, especially when people see themselves on the screen, they love that.
“That is why we make these films, so people can see and enjoy them.”
Mr Shaw became passionate about film-making after he retired from his job in advertising at the age of 65.
“It is great fun and an interesting and fascinating hobby,” he said.
■ The film show will take place on Friday at the Methodist Church in Sevenoaks Road, Orpington, from 7.30pm.