The lighthouse tree ~ filming ‘Swallows and Amazons’ in 1973

Suzannah Hamilton, Stephen Grendon, Sophie Neville and Simon West above Derwentwater in 1973

Suzannah Hamilton, Stephen Grendon, Sophie Neville and Simon West above Derwentwater in 1973

‘It would make a superb lighthouse,’ but not for a good few years yet.  The scots pine planted by The Arthur Ransome Society on the northern end of Peel Island was growing well when I last paid it homage. I hope I don’t spoil the magic if I explain that the pine used in the 1973 film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ is on a promentary above Derwentwater.  An appropriate tree was chosen that overlooked the location we used for Houseboat Bay.

Captain John, played by Simon West, starts to climb the lighthouse tree at the Lookout Point Wild Cat Island: Photo ~ Daphne Neville

If you can avoid being distracted by Bavid Bracknell’s trendy two-tone trousers you can see a bit more of the lighthouse tree location with the lake beyond.  I’ve been told it is Friar’s Crag.  Can anyone tell me more  about the bay on Derwentwater where Captain Flint’s houseboat was moored for the film?

Sophie Neville as Titty Walker hanging the lantern. Claude Whatham sits beside the camera crew including Eddie Collins, Dennis Lewiston and Bobby Sitwell, whilst first assistant David Bracknell looks on: photo ~ Daphne Neville

As a child reading Swallows and Amazons I was always deeply impressed that Captain John managed to climb the pine tree in Arthur Ransome’s drawing. Simon West was able to use branches but he really did climb quite high.  The camerman had a scaffold tower.

Suzanna wrote that, ‘In the late afternoon the Amazons were filming on the pontoon. Kit wasn’t feeling well.’  Lesley was feeling a bit better. There was a ‘flu-like bug going around.  Neither of them look that well in the resultant photograph but they survived.

Kit Seymour as Nancy Blackett with Lesley Bennett playing her sister Peggy Blackett in Amazon, who is still sailing today.

9 Comments

Filed under 1973, Acting, Arthur Ransome, Autobiography, Biography, Cinema, Claude Whatham, Cumbria, Diary, Film, Film Cast, Film Catering, Film crew, Film History, Filmaking, Lake District, Memoir, Movie, Movie stories, Sophie Neville, Suzanna Hamilton, Swallows and Amazons, truelife story

9 responses to “The lighthouse tree ~ filming ‘Swallows and Amazons’ in 1973

  1. excellent, I love reading your blog as I am a big fan of ‘Swallows…’…very very interesting

  2. Barry Riddiford

    Thank you again.

  3. Jill

    Lovely stuff as always, Sophie – logging in from rural Turkey where I’m on a dig for the summer, but it’s worth enduring the grindingly slow internet to see the latest blog – keep it up for all of us!

    • Much of what I am doing feels like archaeology – digging up the past and piecing it together. I have been finding out that our second assistant director Terry Needham went on to have the most fascinating career in movies working with all the great directors.

  4. john f white

    Thank you Sophie for all the fascinating background to the film which all our family love. I have spent ages identifying and visiting the locations in the film and books – I am fairly sure houseboat bay is brandlehow bay and the lighthouse tree is on Brandlehow point

    John white

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