Film ID:
NEFA 21273



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As a professional saxophone player in a dance band in the 1930s, George Cummin produced this humorous narrative home movie with his wife Norah, documenting a summer spent in Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast, where he was engaged to play at the Whitby Spa for the season. The film includes footage of circus elephants on the beach and a staged band performance at the Whitby Spa Theatre Café. Includes commercial newsreel footage. This film is part of the Newcastle & District Amateur Cinematographers Association (ACA) collection.

Title: Presenting

Title: Summer Season

Title: Hysterical Note. 1937 A.D. found George playing and singing at Whitby. In spite of this, he was asked back in 1938 and recklessly accepted.

A boat makes its way on the choppy North Sea. A man in a suit (the band leader) scans the horizon with binoculars. George and Norah Cummin are calmly seated in a stationary rowing boat. The man looks again out to sea with binoculars. George and Norah are still sitting in the rowing boat. Travelling shot from a boat of the Church of St Mary and Whitby Abbey ruins overlooking the North Sea on the East Cliff headland above Whitby. Portrait shot of Norah Cummin pointing out of frame.

Title: Look, there’s Whitby. If we aren’t in before the shops close, you’ll get no bacon and eggs.

Norah Cummin looks over at George. Portrait shot of George in suit and tie who begins to row quickly (although it’s just noticeable he isn’t actually holding any oars). The boat out at sea races across an expanse of water at an impossible speed.

The band leader welcomes George and Norah on the quayside at Whitby harbour. They greet each other, laughing.

Title: Having settled down, they pass their mornings in various pleasant ways.

Close-up of George sleeping. George takes a nap with his feet up on the seafront overlooking the sea at high tide, Whitby East Pier with its stone navigation lighthouse and curving breakwater at the entrance to Whitby harbour in the background. Brief shot of Norah dozing in the sunshine on a bench overlooking Whitby beach. George is now dozing in his shirt sleeves in a deck chair down by the beach. Norah is laying on her back on a bench along the Pier Road river front. George is caught kipping again on a bench on the West Cliff overlooking Whitby Spa Pavilion, East Pier in the background.

Title: In the afternoons, however, George had to go to work.

A poster at the Spa Theatre Café, Whitby, reads: “Tea Dances Daily in the Spa Café 3.30 to 5.30 Admission to grounds 6d.” There’s a group portrait of the band members inside the Spa Café, all appearing to be taking a nap with their instruments. [Out of focus sequence]

Title: Sometimes energetic customers insisted on dancing.

A group of men and women on the cafe dance floor are clapping enthusiastically, the men in fake beards and moustaches. Now decidedly awake, the jazz band musicians, including George Cummin on saxophone, are playing for the customers, who now dance together in couples. All the café tables are empty. Various shots record the musicians playing energetically both inside the café and outside on the terrace. There are shots of the trumpet player, George Cummin playing with two fellow saxophonists, band members on double bass, drums and piano, and the band leader speaking into a microphone.

Title: When the Government learned that George was crooning again, they took steps to prevent any trouble.

Newsreel footage of mounted military on parade, an Air Force fly past, and a Royal Navy destroyer out at sea follows.

Title: But Whitby remained tranquil –

General view of Whitby along the River Esk, cars, cyclists and pedestrians on Flowergate, the Whitby Abbey ruins on the East Cliff, and crowds watching from the harbour quayside as boat races take place on the River Esk, possibly part of the Whitby Regatta.

Title: -and Norah and George, somewhat refreshed, begin to take a more active part in local pursuits.

George joins men fishing along the East Pier. Norah takes a donkey ride on Whitby beach. Wearing chic beach pyjamas, Norah plays ball with a woman and group of children down by the beach huts. Portrait shot of a fisherman wearing a gansey, smoking a pipe, as Norah, George and a friend from the band enjoy a sailing trip in a fishing coble. His friend (the band leader) helps sail the boat, steering with the rudder.

Title: Of course, there was mixed bathing – very mixed.

General view of people on Whitby beach, men in swimsuits in the sea and a child washing her feet in a small rock pool on the beach. A high angle view follows the progress of two circus elephants along the beach, surrounded by crowds of onlookers. The two elephants walk into the sea and bathe together. Close-ups of one of the elephants follow.

Title: What do they know of cricket, who only Test cricket know?

The band musicians play beach cricket beside a beach groyne, George running in to bowl.

Title: Lunch interval.

A donkey foal drinks milk from his mother on the beach. George walks solemnly across the sands with his cricket bat. The cricket match continues. George is played out and slopes back with his bat.

Title: But Summer goes, the crowd goes, and our pair must go too, taking with them pleasant memories of the colourful days of the Summer Season.

[Dufaycolor footage]

Norah plays ball on the beach in a tight pink swimsuit. A cricket match takes place on a green, players in whites. Norah poses on the beach. General view of Whitby looking towards Whitby Abbey and East Cliff. Norah watches fish in an ornamental pond. Two circus elephants are ridden and led by circus performers through Whitby, one of the trainers dressed in a Nehru jacket. Norah walks through a park and smells the roses, possibly in the Whitby Museum gardens, a view of the Abbey in the distance. George and Norah are seated on a bench in Whitby, the East Pier in the background.

Title: The End