‘How did Titty capture the Amazon?’
What did the Swallows and Amazons wear?
The Swallows and the Amazons – where are they now?
These are some of the many questions that people type into search-engines. Members of The Arthur Ransome Group on Facebook have also had questions:
Dan Ford asked, ‘I think I heard it said that the four Swallows and two Amazons all wore life-jackets under their clothes whilst filming. If that is so, they were very well concealed, so were they specially made for this use?’
We didn’t wear life jackets under our costumes, we only ever wore buoyancy aids when travelling out to the location. Last time I went out rowing on Coniston Water I didn’t wear a life-jacket either, which was very naughty.
Chris Rosindale asked: ‘What became of ‘Amazon’ from the film? Is she still in existence like ‘Swallow’?
Suzanna Hamilton and I went out on Coniston Water in Amazon in when the BBC invited us to Bank Ground Farm to appear in Countryfile with Ben Fogle. We met her owners who live in Kent. I gather she was the same dinghy used to play Amazon in the 1963 BBC serial of Swallows and Amazons made when Arthur Ransome was still around to comment. Her owner told me, ‘She was built locally on Windermere sometime in the 1930.’
Duncan Hall writes, ‘Just before Roger finds the camp, I’m fairly sure I can see a chimney in the background (somebody last said that it was a tree stump but it doesn’t look like a tree stump) – did you film any “on island” sequences on the mainland? Also – I know Rampsholme on Derwent Water was used for some “Wild Cat Island in the distance” shots, but it was mostly Peel Island. Did any Windermere islands get used for Wild Cat Island locations?
The Boy Roger was definitely on Peel Island when he was looking for the camping place. I remember he got rather scratched by brambles. I can see what does look like a chimney in the background but it would have been a stump.
Some of the scenes set on Wild Cat Island were indeed shot on the mainland. This was because there is no light house tree on Peel Island. I don’t think there was one in Ransome’s day. We filmed the light house tree scenes on two different promontories near Friar’s Crag overlooking Derwentwater and the Houseboat Bay. For a description of one location please click here.
Chris Clarke has asked, ‘Were any of you allowed to keep props from the film set as a souvenir? For example, were the Amazons allowed to keep their red hats?’
A number of red hats were made and I think the Amazons may have been able to keep one each. Their hats were initially bright pink, but my mother was insistent they should be red and others were knitted locally. She tried to get ones made more like a finely knitted woolen hat of mine that would have been much more in keeping with Ransome’s original sketches. However this picture was not known of back then and the Wardrobe Master, and the Director went with the design of the ones you see on the screen. Funnily enough the caps do look a bit pink in Mum’s faded photo.
I still have a bow, two arrows with green feathers and a pair of flags used for rehearsal props. I was given one of the pink hats but it meant nothing. I didn’t keep any of my costumes, but Caroline Downer who played Dorothea says that she still has the buttercup yellow dress she wore in either ‘Coot Club’ or ‘The Big Six’.
Scores of people have asked, ‘Where was Swallows & Amazons filmed?’
One of the secrets of filming Swallows & Amazons is that while most of the film was shot on Coniston Water, we also filmed with the dinghies to Derwentwater, Windermere, Elterwater and rather a smelly lily pond.
Ben Fogle making a documentary about the locations used for Swallows & Amazons (1974) – photograph: Geraint Lewis of the Arthur Ransome Trust
You can find more answers in ‘The Secrets of Swallows and Amazons’ or ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’ available online or to order from your library.