Film ID: NEFA 13585 Video of 13585 Helen at Redcar HELEN AT REDCAR 1937 Visitor TabsDescription Amateur home movie by Middlesbrough based filmmaker Tom Brown that focuses on his daughter Helen with family and friends on holiday in the popular seaside resort of Redcar, North Yorkshire. The film includes interesting scenes of synchronized group exercise performed on Redcar sands, which illustrate the fashion for health and fitness routines promoted in the 1930s. The film opens with a close-up of two small girls with toy spades making sandcastles on a windy day at Redcar beach. One of the children is Helen Brown. Union Jack flags are sticking out of the sandcastle. Helen's grandmother and a younger woman wearing sunglasses and a polka dot dress are seated in deckchairs behind them, smiling to camera. The two girls take a donkey ride on Redcar beach, led by their grandmother, holidaymakers on the beach in the background, view towards seafront buildings. One girl pats a donkey’s nose. Close-up of Helen putting sand in a bucket with her toy spade, people in deckchairs in the background. The other small girl blinks in the strong sunlight. The two girls are seated in the sand at their guardians' feet, a sandcastle beside them. A line of women are seated in front of a windbreaker in the background. The film switches to a general view of an audience several rows deep on Redcar sands. A van with loudspeakers on the roof, painted with signs for "Daily Sketch" and "Life Saving Team," is parked at the back of the audience. The next view shows a performance or session of synchronised exercise on the beach. The session for holidaymakers is led by suntanned and well-muscled men in all-in-one body swimsuits and bathing caps, probably lifeguards. Hands on hips, they perform exercises watched by the crowd. The men then march the children, men and women taking part back along the beach. They are carrying a large reel of rope, a "life line," and the lifeguard at the front carries a banner that reads 'Daily Sketch,' a British national tabloid newspaper of the time. Children scurry around and watch in the foreground. The film returns to scenes of the two small girls building sandcastles on the beach, one wearing a frilly bonnet. Three women are seated on deckchairs watching the children. One woman helps the children dig sand with a toy spade. The youngest woman holds a small photograph of a baby while the young child wearing a bonnet smiles and looks off camera. The picture may be the same child at a very young age. The child runs off camera. The child in a bonnet puts sand into a paper bag held by the younger woman dressed in a checked jacket. One of the girls is holding a toy and laughs. Children are seated on a merry-go-round on Redcar beach. The merry-go-round spins around and we see swings behind on the beach and the Redcar seafront in the background. One of the girls is unbuckled from a horse with the name of Tony painted on its head. One of the girls and a younger woman eat ice creams on the beach, both dressed in flowery frocks. A bib is tucked onto the child. A man in a suit and trilby sunhat (the grandfather or Herbert Punch?) helps one of the girl's make sandcastles. The grandmother helps the girl make sandcastles. Again, the older man is making sandcastles with the smal girl, Redcar pier in the background. The film next shows Redcar swimming pool. Helen is taught to swim. Tom Brown, her father, holds her in the pool. She wears an inflatable safety ring. He bounces her in the water and waves to camera. Closer shot of Helen in her safety ring out of the water and beside the pool. There is a brief scene of a group of people having tea at an outside table on a lawn. A group of children take a pony ride on the beach. An older girl in a velvet collared coat on a pony is led by another girl of a similar age, Redcar promenade buildings in the background. Back with the herd of other ponies, the girl pats the ponies and smiles to camera. The sea crashes onto rocks. Perched on the rocks beside the sea, a young couple, the man with a camera, look at the sea view. The older girl swims toward camera. She is then pictured on a beach in her swimming hat. The scene switches back to the small girls playing in the sand, helped by the woman in polka dot dress and sunglasses. Kate Brown and Tom Brown's mother are seated in deckchairs in the background. Various shots of the group on the beach follow, with a portrait shot of one of the girls (Helen). She places a feather in a sand shape held out to her on a toy spade by the woman in polka dot dress, and pulls it out again. The woman slams the girl's hand down on the sand shape and smashes it. The film ends with a close-up of the girl running up to the camera, smiling. Context Bucket and spade, deckchairs and donkey rides – a Middlesbrough family enjoy the simple pleasures of a seaside holiday at windy Redcar. Shot through with nostalgia for the British bucket and spade holiday today, this home movie is an affectionate portrait of a Middlesbrough family’s daughter on a trip to the seaside at popular Redcar in the 1930s. Along with showman Victor Vernon’s merry-go-round, entertainment is provided by the Daily Sketch Life Saving Team, a troupe of muscular men in striped bathing suits who lead the crowd in synchronized exercise routines on the beach. The Daily Sketch Life Saving Team was one of several troupes sponsored by tabloid newspapers who toured seaside resorts in the 1930s. Another, the Daily Mirror 8 was a popular women’s fitness and dance act. Both were produced and managed by Digger Pugh (1902-1969), a flamboyant, naturalised Australian whose diverse career included stints as a gold miner, boxer and wrestler, stock car racing promoter, acrobat, contortionist and circus impresario. The International Clown’s Club described him as a “genius of the modern circus and show business”.