Film ID: NEFA 19730 Video of THE STOUTTS AND THEIR FRIENDS 1954-1956 Visitor TabsDescription This amateur home movie filmed by G. R. Davison shows the Stoutt family and friends enjoying days out and visits around the North East. Footage includes a race meet at High Gosforth Park racecourse, Newcastle upon Tyne, on 11 April 1955 where Major Petch is a judge; a trip to Castle Howard stately home in North Yorkshire; a visit to Tynemouth with the Plaza hotel and outdoor pool featured; the beach at Crimdon Dene and finally a visit to the Lake District. The group enjoy picnics, crazy golf, jokey games of cricket with a tennis racket, and there's a glimpse of the Guiness Clock. Features some 50s fashionable frocks. [Please note the first section of the film was badly damaged.] [black and white footage] Title: G. R. Davison presents Title: The Stoutts and their friends Title: Whit Monday 1954 [black and white footage] The Stoutts family emerge from their house heading off on a trip with friends. They head off in their cars, one a Morris Minor car, followed by a Ford Popular. N McDowell's, the family butcher, is located on the street. The friends get out at a stop in the countryside. One of the vehicles, a small van has the words Darlington and Stockton painted on the bodywork. The group walk across the open grassland with a spectacular view of the countryside in the background. Title: The Mighty Duke of York Two women seem to be struggling up a hill as they walk towards the camera. Title: She'll be coming round the mountains. One of the men in the group, a cine camera slung over his shoulder, 'pushes' one of the women up the hill. General views show the group walking up a hill towards the camera. Three of the women in the group, young and old, attempt to sit on a dry stone wall. Title: There would be no picnic without this The group sit down on the grass and tuck into sandwiches and drink tea. Title: One drink of our tea can make you feel a new man. One of the men, in a Trilby hat, takes a sip of tea from his mug and smiles. Picnic food is spread out on a rug on the ground. The group sit around and eat. Title: The 'youngsters' have a good time A tennis racket is deployed in a chaotic game on the slope of a hill. The young woman seen earlier retrieves the ball. The game continues, not quite cricket, almost rounders, but certainly not tennis, it's more of a mixture, an improvised game. Title: Sunday June 27th. We set off for Castle Howard. Another trip for the group as they get their cars ready: one is a Hillman, the other a Morris Minor. Title: Chop Gate. A moment of fair and fine weather. The cars have stopped on the road, and the younger woman seen earlier runs through long grass towards the cars, the other adults following on at a much slower pace. Title: Returning from Castle Howard, we find one more dry spell. Three of the group stand and look at a view of what is thought to be Easterside Hill from Newgate Bank in Bilsdale North Yorkshire. The camera pans right to show the extent of this spectacular view although weather conditions are somewhat misty. The younger woman takes in the view. Other members of the group take refreshment from the boot of the Morris Minor. With cups of tea in hand, the group smiles for the camera. One of the other members of the trip walks towards the camera cup of tea raised and his hat doffed. More views of tea being consumed (picture out of focus) Title: At Newcastle April 11th 1955 The race programme gives a list of officials and stewards for a Gosforth Park race day in Newcastle, including Major L Petch as a judge. There's a big crowd at the racecourse, in the stands and around the bookmaker’s stalls. Horses and riders make their way to the start of the race. From the spectators’ position behind the safety fence, the camera shows the horses galloping down a straight section of the track. They pass by the camera and go off toward a curve in the distance. The information board shows the result of the race. Tic Tac men in the crowd broadcast betting odds in their own sign language. From a higher position the film follows the horses and riders in another race. [colour Kodachrome footage] The film shows a decorative Guinness clock. Crowds gather round to watch the eccentric mechanical features of the clock. Three women are admiring a large pot planted with flowers on the seafront at Tynemouth, the Victorian Tynemouth Plaza hotel in the background.There's a brief overhead view of the crowded open air pool. The Stoutts and friends then play crazy golf on a course overlooking the sea. A man and boy lark around on a lawn. Next, a man is crafting something like a basket. The group leave a warehouse like building together, one woman with a camera. They all make their way over a bridge and under a railway line towards the beach, possibly at Crimdon Dene. Two of the men make an arch together with their arms for their wives as they manage to climb the steep bank and reach the top. The large group of Stoutt family and friends play cricket on the beach. The young boy makes a lot of runs with the bat. The young woman, in a bright red sweater and 50s skirt takes the bat and has a go, making a run. One of the older women cradles a baby in her lap for the camera. The woman points at the camera to encourage the child to look. The camera pulls back and shows two other women sitting nearby behind a windbreak. A group of the day-trippers gather around a Hillman Minx car, then settle down to enjoy a picnic. Members of the group wash their cups and plates in the waters of a lake nearby. The film cuts to the view of a small car ferry in operation on a lake, the vessel slowly approaches the camera. On the bankside a number of cars wait for the ferry. A yacht sails on a lake. The ferry pulls away from the bank, view from the ferry platform. On board the ferry the group enjoy the journey and the views across the lake. The next location is a moorland hillside as a young boy walks up the hill. Next a view across the moorland to hills in the distance. Two women in the middle distance take a moorland path. The film cuts to a view of a lake and mountains in the distance. Next two women and a man carry bags and chairs across the grass. They set up the chairs and cushions and other picnic essential. Some riders on horses and ponies go past. At a mountain viewing point, with stone walls for a boundary, the women emerge from a path and head towards the cars. Context This delightful silent film captures two years in the life of the Stoutts which seems to mostly consist of them eating a lot of cake and drinking tea in different settings across the North of England. This film was donated to the archive without any context and nothing is known either about the Stoutts, their friends, or the filmmaker. Everything we can know about this group and their various outings is supposition however it does give modern audiences a glimpse of how many spent their post-war leisure time in the early 1950s. The rapport that the filmmaker has with the family is clear and they very often look beyond the camera to the person behind it in a relaxed way, laughing, joking and at times perhaps taking their direction on what to do next. The first section of the film sees the Stoutts on a jaunt to the countryside, taking in the fresh air and motoring around the rural spots of Britain was indeed a popular pastime back then (and for many, still is). The popular author H V Morton wrote in the interwar years with great fondness for this kind of travel and his exploration of Britain’s A and B roads were immortalised in his best-selling ‘In Search Of’ books documenting his travels across the UK (and abroad). Yet a car was still a relative luxury for most households back then and according to government statistics in 1951 only 14% owned a vehicle for personal use. The party are certainly dressed for car driving more than walking. The women are clacking up the hills and through the bracken in their Sunday best dresses and heels. The men are in tweed and wool pullovers, with the ever fashionable fedoras staying put in the wind. They perch on the dry stone dykes for the camera, looking relived that they don’t have to walk any further and who could blame them. Yet the Stoutts are certainly an active bunch and later on we see an ironic caption about the ‘youngsters’ where both young and old play together with old wooden tennis rackets, not taking the game entirely seriously as one man plays with the pipe still in his mouth. Then out comes the proper picnic. Although melamine found favour in the 40s and 50s as portable tableware, the Stoutts plump for proper china cups to drink their tea from, scones and sandwiches wrapped up in greaseproof paper. A change of pace takes us to Newcastle's racecourse at Gosforth Park on a bright spring day and here we get the impression that the filmmaker wants to challenge his skills rather than capture the Stoutts. We see tracking shots of the horses, a sea of hundreds with hats and coats all entranced watching the races. Punters are entertained before races by the mysterious sign language of the tic tac men, who signal odds and price changes with white-gloved hands, from the bookmakers at the rail to the bookies in the centre of the betting ring. Tic tac is sadly fast becoming a lost art, replaced in the gaming industry by computers and mobile phones. The Stoutts and their friends are at Gosforth Park for the busy Easter Monday flat-race meets. Perhaps the best known race at the venue was the Northumberland Plate, also known as the Pitmen's Derby. The event took place during “Race Week”, a holiday for miners until 1949. By 1952 it had become a Saturday race. The British weekly illustrated newspaper The Graphic was reporting in its column 'The Turf' on 3 July 1886 that the Northumberland Plate was falling in favour year by year, despite an injection of cash. It was once 'the most popular race in the North'. The Plate and the St Leger were in the 1930s still the two big races of the North, the Plate a £1,500 event in 1935. The Plate Day was first established on the Town Moor in 1833 and transferred to its present venue at Newcastle's Gosforth Park in 1882. The film cuts to colour footage and suddenly everything has a more technicolour vibrancy, saturated in reds and blues the women’s patterned pastel dresses swaying in the sea breeze. All of a sudden we feel catapulted into modernity. The seaside as a location for family holidays has been popular for centuries but in the UK it had a particular moment in the post-war boom of the 1950s until the 1970s with thousands flocking to nearby resorts as their leisure time increased. Here we see the Stoutts frolicking in the popular Victorian North-East resort of Tynemouth, playing crazy golf and visiting the open-air pool. The latter is currently in the process of being restored back to its former glory seen here back in the 1950s, filled with families and keen swimmers taking the sea air and feeling the cold water on their skin. This Kodachrome footage really brings out the colour of the women’s outfits, their bright red coats, sweaters and headscarves shine as they play cricket on a windy beach. It also make us think about the previous black and white footage too and how their colours would contrast with rust coloured bracken and lush green hills The final part of the film sees the Stoutts near the lakes, still picnicking on tartan blankets but this time they are at the shore with proper chairs and tables. The women laugh and smile for the camera and respond to the person behind it. Here we notice the bold patterns of the women’s swing skirts and how they stand out in the scenery behind them. Coming out of the post-war period, women’s fashions exploded with new shapes and were bright and bold with cotton patterns. Here the Stoutt women wear the latest trends with mid-length skirts, underskirts and contrasting pastel cardigans. Although we can’t say too much about the Stoutts and their friends, watching this footage we can say they were close and comfortable with one another and the camera, they made the most of their leisure time and the picnics were second to none.