Film ID: NEFA 8248 Video of NEFA 8248 Ace of Clubs ACE OF CLUBS 1957 Visitor TabsDescription Billingham Film Unit cine-magazine that celebrates the ICI Billingham Synthonia Club, covering a 1957 sports day event, the club's use by 13,000 members and its rebuilding after World War II. Includes a short evocative history of the bombing of the first Synthonia Club with the memory of the night on voice-over. Credit: ICI Credit: Billingham Division Title: Presents Title: Ace of Clubs Title: In the year 1922 near the old-word village of Billingham there worked a small band of men - a great task before them Title: And in those days between those men there grew up a spirit that still lives today Title: We call it the Billingham spirit The film opens with a panorama of the Synthonia Club sports field where athletes run round the track, and men, women, and children throng the terraces. Scenes of the crowd at the event. A woman licks an ice cream slowly. Scenes of sporting activity follow: judo, cricket. A hockey player sits next to a neatly coiffured woman in a blue and white polka dot dress. A toddler enjoys an enormous yellow lolly. A women’s sprint sets off. A men’s sprint finishes. Middle aged men take part in a tug o’ war. Young boys in black shorts and naked to the waist vault a wooden horse. Various shots of Billingham Synthonia Rugby Union match action and football. Women play hockey. The pages of an ICI magazine flick past. Voice-over of an extract of an article from August 1930, and the film moves to reminisce about the events, which saw the destruction of part of the original Synthonia Club building in the Second World War. Poppies rustle in the wind. Panorama of house-building. Red flowers populate the foreground of a low angle view shot of the new Synthonia Club building. Sir Alexander Fleck arrives. Mr Warton and Mr Bruce Neale meet him outside the canteen. There are various architectural shots of the Synthonia Club. The commentary states: “What a fine building it is, and how satisfying to the eye this combination of elegance and dignity”. Mr Ward, president of the club, mouths a short introductory speech. Dr Evans, the chairman also speaks. The film ends with a close-up of the club badge. Context An ace of clubs in Billingham A celebration of the club that refuses to die – a new ICI Synthonia Club building rises from the rubble of a World War Two bomb. A bomb hit the Synthonia Club in the early hours of the 7th July 1943 – the theatre was in ruins. But as the Club Manager recalls in a rich Northern brogue, the bar luckily survived. This stirring film celebrates the 35 year history of a recreational club, known to ICI workers as the ‘Ace of Clubs’. A punchy collage of sports, including the Synners Football Club in action, introduces the resilient ‘Billingham spirit’ as a new club building rises from the rubble of World War Two. The short documentaries made by Billingham Film Unit reflect the rich communal sporting and recreational culture encouraged at ICI, centred on the Synthonia Club. The English striker and football manager Brian Clough worked as a junior clerk at ICI Casebourne’s cement works and joined the Billingham Synners FC, playing in the amateur Northern League during 1953. It has been said jokily that the international running track was handily located “so that errant apprentices could run off a few pints of Camerons after a visit to the Synthonia”. In 1961 a Times correspondent described the club as “the largest public house in Britain”.