This film is part of Free

Canterbury 1939 to 1940

As the last months of peace pass quickly by, Canterbury's firemen gear up for the war to come.

Amateur film 1939 11 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


This colour film starts with riverside scenes of Maidstone's wharves and the old castle. Moving to Canterbury, we see the mayor inspect mobile special units after which members of Canterbury's Royal Air Force Association march towards the cathedral. After an open-air gym display we see the city's AFS practise with the Tangye Pump forming fountains with their hoses. Finally, we see a school open-day with the children performing dances while their elders have tea.

Sydney Bligh ran a wireless and electronics shop called S.W.Bligh, which was on North Lane in Canterbury. A pioneer of early radio, Bligh began his experiments in 1913 using the call-sign BXA. By the early 1920s Bligh was broadcasting his own shows - before becoming one of the founder members of the British Broadcasting Company. During the course of his side-line career as an amateur filmmaker, Bligh filmed many of Canterbury's civic personalities. In the case of Alderman Lefevre, who is seen in this film and who became mayor in 1940, Bligh filmed not only him going about his official duties but also his funeral in 1945.