Film ID: NEFA 20324 PENDOWER HALL SPECIAL SCHOOL, FANCY DRESS PAGEANT 1960s Visitor TabsDescription Amateur footage that records a very inventive fancy dress pageant and sports day for a group of disabled children at the Pendower Hall Special School, Newcastle upon Tyne. The film begins with a view of a child seated on a tall chair in the school field operating a full-scale cardboard model of a 1960s television camera, fashioned out of painted cardboard boxes and toilet roll tubes, which has “Camera 1” painted on the side. Children and staff (or parents) are beginning to take their seats at the edge of the sports field. A stream of disabled children parade past camera in fancy dress. Outfits include a domino, a Liquorice Allsort, a sunflower, a nurse, a telephone, and a super hero. A young girl in a wheelchair wears a costume made of Valentine hearts. More children file past camera. The costumes include a Chinese man, a nanny nurse with a child in a pram, a wise man, a beauty queen, a rose bush, a rather sinister candle, a birthday present, a red pillar post box and addressed envelope, an Esso Extra tiger, a big game hunter, three Hawaiian girls, a Native American girl, robots, a fairy, Bill and Ben, and Roman soldiers, One glum boy is decorated in leather straps, or tawse, which are associated with corporal punishment in Scotland. A multitude of costumes are displayed, many very inventive. A teenage lad walks by with cigarettes in his ear, hand and mouth and Marlborough and Embassy packets stuck to his jacket. His friend sports a red nose and carries a bottle of Bass beer. They carry cardboard signs identifying themselves as Nicotine and Alcohol. There follow more children dressed as a Romany musician, Jarrow marchers (?), the eighth Samurai (in a wheelchair), another Esso tiger sporting a sign that reads "Has anyone found my tank?", a char lady, and finally a girl also dressed as a robot. The children then all gradually come to a halt in a long line around the sports field. A woman is now seated with the boy operating the model TV camera. In the final scene, the younger children compete in a crawling race. Note: Opened in January 1925 as Pendower Open-Air School in a converted Victorian mansion, located on the West Road. The school was designed so that 'delicate' children could be strengthened by exposure to plenty of sunshine and fresh air. In 1971 new school premises were built in order to provide better facilities for children with serious physical disabilities including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and heart diseases. The new school included a residential unit as well as teaching and medical units. The school closed in July 1999. Context Special needs kids at their fanciest A stirring record of a fancy dress pageant at the Pendower Hall Special School in Newcastle upon Tyne. At Pendower Hall in Newcastle upon Tyne the faces and marvellously inventive costumes of special needs students at a school fancy dress pageant flicker into life. Introduced by a child cinematographer seated at a full scale cardboard TV camera, a stream of children in outfits ranging from an Esso Extra tiger to the ‘Eighth Samurai’ are recorded in a moving theatrical parade. These precious cine memories still resonate across the years. Salvaged from the school when it closed in July 1999, this ‘orphan’ film is part of a collection that records the trips and activities of students with a range of disabilities over two decades. Marked by time and the technical quirks and passion of vernacular movie making, these visual diaries offer a more affectionate, emotive experience often missing from representations of disability on screen, although the children here do not control the real cameras. Originally built for banker John W Pearce in 1867, Pendower Hall opened as an ‘open-air’ school designed for ‘delicate’ children in January 1925, later offering facilities for more serious disabilities such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida.