Fifty years ago in Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District

The Guardian 8th June 1973The Guardian published this photograph, taken on the set of ‘Swallows & Amazons’ when the film of Arthur Ransome’s well-known book was being shot at Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District on 7th June 1973. The story was set in 1929. The production team battled to find local men to appear as film extras. None of them wanted a short-back-and-sides hair cut. The ladies of the Lake District found this most amusing. Many of them wore their hair shorter than the men. To see more photographs and footage taken behind-the-scenes on this day, with diary extracts, please click here

For more photographs and a description of what happened please click here

It was Pandora Doyle, seen in the photos as a little girl in a blue dress, who sent me the newspaper clipping from the Guardian pasted above. Her father Brian Doyle was the Publicity Manager on the film. She kept all his files with notes from all the film stars he’d worked with. Do leave a comment below to let us know what you were doing in June 1973.

You can read the whole story about how the film was made in Cumbria in ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974)’ available to order from libraries or online retailers worldwide.

Screenshot of The Making of Swallows and Amazons book cover on Instagram


Author: Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

17 thoughts on “Fifty years ago in Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District”

  1. Dear Sophie , In June 1973 I was 9 months into my 3 year teacher training course at Didsbury Teacher Training College . I was well aware of the work of A.R. , having bought or having had bought copies of various volumes .
    It was not for many years – probably 15 that I contacted Cape for info. about locations – still have the reply !!
    Christina Hardyment came later and I became TARS no. 79 at the Windermere Steamboat Museum on day one of TARS .
    Sincerely , TARS for ever , Martin Robinson

    1. Ah, you’ve inspired me to think of writing a post with people’s memories. Did you see the film in the cinema when it first came out in the summer of 1974?

      1. Yes – I was impressed by the production of the film , the way it covered the story , and how well the cast members `became` each of the Walker and Blacket children . I enjoyed the viewing of the remastered version last year and viewing the `Swallow ` from the film . A most enjoyable day !

        1. Great. I’ve been invited back to a cinema screening in Kendal this August. Have you managed to read a copy of ‘The Making of Swallows & Amazons’? You should be able to order a copy from your library.

          1. Dear Sophie , I bought ( and read ) ` The Making of Swallows and Amazons ` for my Kindle in Feb 2014 , and found it a great read – loads of info. we would never have known otherwise . I bought a signed copy of the book to add to my Ransome collection last summer. It is very well produced and illustrated – Thanks , M. R .

            1. I’m so glad that you enjoyed both versions.The publishers worked very hard on the paperback, which I think contains about 120 photographs.
              They were wonderful and helped me to improve on the flow and add a better ending. I am now ready to go to a second edition, as we’ve been able to add a couple of names and a few more secrets. I didn’t realise that my mother was never paid for being a chaperone, despite the huge responsibility. I’m appalled. Quite illegal!

              Would you honour us by leaving a short review on Amazon? The link for the ebook is:

            2. Thank you so much for taking the time to add a review to the Amazon site for ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows & Amazons’. It is hugely appreciated and most helpful. Do let me know if you have any questions.

              1. Dear Sophie , If a second ( expanded ) edition of ` Secrets of F. of S&A ` is printed , I would love to have a first edition . Please keep me ` in the loop ` as I understand some people express the desire for some future event …
                TARS for ever , Martin Robinson

              2. Certainly! My mother has just given me several new secrets to add. I’m desperately trying to find Lesley Bennett who played Peggy as her diaries were more comprehensive than mine, but I think she lives in Holland.

                I don’t know if you’d be interested in my proof editions – the original hardback samples or paperbacks marked up for the publisher. They have the map I drew on the cover and are much like the eBook to look at as we only gained permission to use official stills from the film at a later date.

  2. I would love to see photocopies of any new work in progress – I have never been offered such before – thank you very much ! I think it is very important that present and future readers of A.R. books , members of TARS and those who hold the 1973 version of ` Swallows and Amazons ` as a beautiful representation , have further opportunities to learn how the film was actually put together – I am sure my grandchildren , 6,5,4 and 3 will all be pleased that you shared the secrets !
    Sincerely , TARS for ever , Martin Robinson

  3. In June 1973 I was in my third year in my first ‘proper’ job; had been married almost two years; and was still reading Arthur Ransome.

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