The Stewkley Film Archive

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The Stewkley Film Archive
Trinity House, Stewkley
Tel: 01525 240100
Contact: John Flewin


Date: April 29, 2010

Above: John Flewin, Founder of the Stewkley Film Archive, (centre) presented with the FOCAL award by Jean-Luc Vernhet, of the French national film and television Archive, INA. On the left, tv producer Lord David Puttnam, Chair of FOCAL Patrons.


The locally produced DVD "Over Our Dead Bodies" has scooped an international award for the Home Video that made the best use of archive footage in 2009. The producer and founder of the Stewkley Film Archive, villager John Flewin, knew his production, telling the story of the Third London Airport campaign of 40 years ago, was among the three nominations for the award when he attended the glittering awards ceremony in London, on Tuesday (April 27).

It was not until after clips from the three nominated productions -- the other two were from America -- had been played on the big screens, that the announcement of the winner came from veteran tv producer Lord David Puttnam. "It was a pretty amazing moment," John Flewin now recalls.

Judging in the category, for which seven productions were submitted, had been by a panel of five experts from the archive and stock footage industry. Apparently, their decision was unanimous.

Officially, the award was for "The Best Use of Footage in a Home Video Release" produced and reaching the retail market last year. The seven nominations included the two from the USA, one from Germany and four from the UK, including one from the BBC, produced from its natural history archives.

The award was one of 14 announced on the night in an awards programme run by footage trade organisation FOCAL International (The Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries), which celebrated 25 years since its formation on the same night. The annual awards are sponsored by the AP Archive, the film and video licensing arm of the Associated Press, and the individual award was sponsored by the licensing department of the French national film and television archive INA, which claims the world's largest library of digitised motion imagery.

Among the array of personalities involved in receiving or presenting awards on the night were South Bank show host (Lord) Melvyn Bragg, and legandary American film director Martin Scorsese.

The main content of the DVD is a 55-minute production telling the story of the campaign to stop Britain's biggest airport being built locally, a plan being seriously considered by Government in the late 1960s. It would have meant the total destruction of the villages and communities of Cublington, Aston Abbotts, Stewkley, Soulbury, and Dunton, with the eviction of thousands from their homes. Leighton Buzzard and Aylesbury would have become extended dormitory towns, and Milton Keynes would have been a different kind of city.

Film for the production came from three local filmmakers of the time, the late Tony Greenslade of Stewkley, the late Jeremy Smith-Cressell of Drayton Parslow and Bernard Osborn, then village shop keeper at Aston Abbots. Additional footage was licensed from the BBC Archive, and one clip of the first local demonstration, in Stewkley in 1969, was obtained from the East Anglian Film Archive in Norwich.

More film from the Tony Greenslade collection and other sources, film and video of Stewkley happenings over the last 45 years, recently played to a packed house at Stewkley Village Hall, and more imagery is being unearthed as the ambitions of the Stewkley Film Archive become more widely known.

John Flewin who says he is heading for retirement after 40 years in the television and archive footage business sees the Stewkley Film Archive as a retirement project. "The aim is not just to locate and preserve the film and video for posterity. The main aim is to allow as many people as possible to see and enjoy material that has often lain dormant in storage for many years. Seeing it on the big screen, or on home televisions, provides a vision of our past and an opportunity to learn, or remember, people and events which are now part of our heritage."

He adds: " The award has given me encouragement to build further on what has been achieved to date. I hope also that it may inspire other towns and villages to start thinking more about their own visual heritage, seeking out and preserving films and photos before they are lost forever."

Some 500 copies of the DVD were produced. Most have sold, but a few are still available and copies can be purchased on-line at A small amount of stock is also held at Harveys of Stewkley; at Buzzard Books in High Street Mews, Leighton Buzzard; and in the free-entry shop at the Buckinghamshire County Museum at Aylesbury.


More photos are available to download here