Going Down in the World - Croydon Caving Club Filming 1969-72 Part 3

Part 3 - Derivation of Dates Quoted in this Document and on the Restored Versions.

Going Down in the World

Start of Project

The first filming weekend was October-November 1969 (below).  Although there had been a planning phase before filming began this did not occupy a year so the project started during 1969.

First Filming Weekend

The Caving and Indoor Programme 1969/70 lists the weekend 31 Oct/1 Nov as `South Wales - Filming'.  This is the first mention of a filming weekend in the programmes.  This date is supported by a press cutting from The Croydon Advertiser dated 7th November 1969 stating that members had been to Wales to film a weekend caving.  Since filming trials started when loading the van at West Croydon it follows that Friday October 31st 1969 was the date that the first shots were taken.

Second Filming Weekend

This was when the main underground sequences, and those around the cave entrance, were taken. Pelobates Number 12 (Feb 1971) Page 5 states that the main underground filming took place on 15th March 1970 but this was a Sunday (by reference to an on-line calendar for 1970) and from memory (and supported by practical considerations) the filming is known to have taken place on a Saturday.
It seems reasonable to expect that this was, in fact Saturday 14th March 1970.  This date is supported by the Caving and Indoor Programme 1970 which states `Filming in Bridge Cave' on March 13/15.  In addition, a press cutting from the Croydon Advertiser dated 13th March 1970 states "Members of CCC set out today for South Wales . . .".

Third Filming Weekend

Unfortunately, there is no record in caving programmes of the third weekend, though from memory it was soon after the second.  Since this was dedicated to completing surface shots there was no underground equipment to consider and so the weekend was relatively `low key'.  There is a press cutting dated 27th March 1970 stating that CCC had been to Wales to make a film but it is not clear whether this was the third weekend (which would have been March 20/22) or if it is a report of the second weekend, since it was common practice (for practical reasons) to issue these reports a week late.  Since a gap of only 1 week would probably have been insufficient to hire a van (the film demonstrates that there was a van in use on that weekend) it seems more likely that this report did, in fact, relate to the second weekend.  The Caving and Indoor Programme 1970 indicates a South Wales trip on April 17/19, for which a van would probably have been hired.  This seems the most likely date for the third weekend, though no direct evidence to support this has been located.

First Showing

Memory states that the film was first shown at a CCC monthly meeting.  This was made into a fairly major event, with invitations being sent to those that had leant the club equipment, etc. and also to the local press.  Pelobates Number 12 (Feb 1971) Page 3 includes that statement " . . . it is now (February 1971) to have its first screening . . .".  Since the monthly meetings were always on the third Wednesday of the month (confirmed by numerous CCC programmes) this must have been, by reference to an on-line calendar for 1971, 17th February 1971.  This is also confirmed by Alex Noel Watson's review appearing in the Croydon Advertiser the following Friday (below).

Alex Noel Watson Press Review

CCC did not submit a report of the first screening to The Croydon Advertiser but, instead, the Advertiser sent Alex Noel Watson, its own critic, to see it.  The Croydon Advertiser was published on Fridays so his review must have been in the paper at the end of that week, i.e. 19th February 1971.

Unfortunately, although the press cutting from ANW was retained it was, inexplicably, not dated.  An enquiry to The Croydon Advertiser (15th March 2015) established that their archives are likely to have these editions and that they are held by The Museum of Croydon.  A search by The Museum of Croydon subsequently located the item and so confirmed the date.

The Merstham Filming Experiments

Personal memory states that two attempts were made to film in the quarries though, perhaps because the local nature of the quarries reduced the planning required, there is little documentary evidence to fix these dates. A review has been made of all available copies of Pelobates and
Newsletters from No. 13 (April 1971) to No 26 (November 1974) but the only article published (Pelobates Number 18 - June 1972) does not specify dates.  There is no mention of Merstham filming in the 1971-2 caving programme.  Evidence is limited to two press cuttings, one being marked as coming from the Croydon Advertiser May 26th 1972.  The other is not dated but has been identified as coming from The Croydon Advertiser dated May 12th 1972 by a search of the archives of The Croydon Advertiser, by The Museum of Croydon.

The earlier of these cuttings also confirms that filming was on Sundays (the usual day for visits to the quarries) so, by reference to an on-line calendar for 1972, the filming dates were 7th and 21st May 1972.  Although caving reports were, occasionally, held over for a week for practical reasons that seems unlikely to have occurred in this case - the close location of filming to home meant that there would have been no need.

Thanks should be expressed to the staff of the Museum of Croydon whose efforts in researching old copies from the archives of The Croydon Advertiser saved the author much time and effort by avoiding the need for visits to Croydon.

Appendix 1 - Principle people involved.

This document has been concerned, principally, with the making and restoration of the CCC films over the period 1969-72 rather than with the people involved, except were such mention is necessary to record the history of the filming.  Indeed, since so many members were involved in
various aspects of the filming, both in front of and behind the camera, it seems unfair to select some for special mention here.  Nevertheless, it is relevant to the history of the filming to record those involved so, with sincere apologies to those not listed, the following were the main persons

Going Down in the World

The original film credits the production team as follows (listed and sequenced as in the film);

Photography - A. Fry
Lighting - G. Denton
Production assistant - B. Reader
Director - A. Giles

In addition, the key members of cast were (listed alphabetically);

Cavers in Bridge Cave

Pete Baron
Allan Ockenden
Terry Salter

Cavers in Little Neath River Cave

Graham Bessant
Eric `El' Duggan
Martin Hatton
Deirdre `Dee' Norman
Narration was by Martin Hatton

The Subterranean Quarries at Merstham

Contemporary Documentation (Pelobates No. 18 - June 1972) credits the enlarged production team as (listed alphabetically);

Graham Bessant
Graham Denton
Alan Fry Tony Giles
Martin Hatton
Bob Reader
Paul Selby

Filming in the quarries was, in some ways, more difficult than in Bridge Cave, requiring many `sherpas' to move the equipment, especially the batteries.  Although their identity was not recorded their work and effort must be acknowledged.

Appendix 2 - Hardware and Software used in the Restoration.

The following processes took place outside the control of the restorer and the equipment used is unknown;
Conversion of the original film to digital format (.mpg) for computer use.
Conversion of the silent copy to VHS tape format.
Conversion of the VHS tape to DVD (for DVD player) format. (Using the services of `New MiltonPhotographic')

Subsequent restoration used the following;
Hardware-Software platform;
Dell Inspiron 570 - AMD Athlon II X4 630 Processor 2.80 GHz with 6.0GB Installed Memory
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Microsoft Office Professional 2010
Other Software;
Avanquest VHS to DVD Converter
Conversion of DVD version of silent copy to editable (.mpg) format
Mastering of the restored files to a DVD suitable for use with DVD players

Microsoft Windows Movie Maker (from Microsoft Office)
Editing of Video
Re-assembly of Audio and Video
Addition of title and information slides
Writing restored films to computer (.mpeg-4 and .wmv) format
Ganymede Wave Corrector
Clean-up and editing of audio
Microsoft Publisher (from Microsoft Office)
Construction of title and information slides
Creation of the inlay card for the DVD case

Appendix 3 - Other Documents Relating to the Original Filming.

The following is a complete list of the various published or relevant documents and information relating to the Croydon Caving Club's filming activities during 1969-72 and identified during the course of the restoration. It must be acknowledged that some minor items may have been
overlooked and, indeed, other items could come to light after compilation of this list. In particular, it seems likely that the filming and budget authorisation must have been discussed at the relevant committee meetings but the minutes of those meetings were not easily available when this list was compiled.  Items listed have all been submitted to the Croydon Caving Club Library in electronic (.pdf) format.


Number 11 (March 1970) Pages 3-4 - `Filming Weekend in South Wales' - Bob Reader
Number 12 (February 1971) Pages 3-5 - `Underground Filming' - Graham Denton
Number 18 (June 1972) Pages 14-15 `CCC Productions Present . . .' - Graham Denton
50th Anniversary Special Edition - Reprints from Numbers 11 and 12 above

Caving Programmes

Programme 1969-70 - Includes reference to `South Wales - Filming' for October 31 - November 2
Programme 1970 - Includes reference to `Filming in Bridge Cave' for March 13-15


Number 17 (May-June 1971) Pages 3-4 - `Croydon Make their Screen Debut' - Graham Denton
(Basically a reprint of the article in Pelobates Number 12)

Press Cuttings

Items appeared in The Croydon Advertiser editions dated as follows;
7 November 1969  - Relating to first filming weekend in South Wales
13 and 27 March 1970  - Relating to second filming weekend - Underground scenes in South Wales
19 February 1971  - Alex Noel Watson review
12 May 1972  - Relating to first filming attempt in Merstham Quarries
26 May 1972 - Relating to second filming attempt in Merstham Quarries

Correspondence with Museum of Croydon

Emails 16th March to 7th April - Fixing date of Alex Noel Watson Review
Emails 19th to 21st April - Fixing date of cutting relating to Merstham filming

Graham Denton