Spa town stars in internet film hit from 1970

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IT was filmed during a time of economic austerity, to attract businesses up to Yorkshire and help bridge the North-South divide.

Now more than 40 years on, a promotional film commissioned by Harrogate Borough Council in 1970 to promote the spa town as a business destination, has become a surprise internet hit.

The Yorkshire Film Archive says the 30-minute film, called Harrogate: Boardroom of the North, is now one of the most popular on its website as the region’s economy once again struggles during the current economic storm.

The film, which is narrated by the council’s then chief executive, J Neville Knox, follows a “professional” couple, Alex Fielding and his wife, Jenny, who “left London reluctantly, far from anxious to live in what they always thought of as the industrial North”.

However, as soon as they step out of the railway station, they quickly realise the delights of Harrogate.

In the film, Mr Fielding is entertained by executives from some of the town’s best known international businesses – ICI, Robert Hirst and Dunlopillo – which no longer exist.

The couple then enjoy an amateur dramatics performance in the Royal Hall, and watch a fashion show in the Assembly Rooms.

Towards the end of the film, Mr Fielding enjoys a game of darts and a pint of beer in the Black Swan Inn at Burn Bridge before finishing the evening off dancing with his wife at Carrington’s night club.

Easy parking, floral displays, Rudding Park Hall, The Great Yorkshire Show, Harewood House, Fountains Abbey, Coppice Valley swimming baths and superb schools are all highlighted as excellent reasons to relocate to Harrogate.

Coun Don Mackenzie, the leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: “I was discussing the film with the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce yesterday, and I have watched it with great fascination.

“While many things have changed: the streets are less congested and the clothes are different, the basic message is as true today as it is then.

“The Harrogate district must keep itself open for business and it is important we do everything we can to ensure businesses stay here and to attract new business as well.”

Coun Mackenzie said the current council is doing something very similar to the promotional film with its Destination Management Organisation (DMO), which involves leading players in the tourism industry, and is aimed at boosting the area’s economy – with a key focus on leisure.

Sue Howard, director of Yorkshire Film Archive, which finds, preserves and provides public access to moving image made in or about the Yorkshire region, said: “This is one of the most popular films on our website.

“Its aim was to sell Harrogate as the town for businesses in the south, particularly around London, to relocate to, but it does much more than that.

“It’s fascinating seeing how much things have changed since it was made just over 40 years ago.

“For many people this film will be a real trip down memory lane.”

Meanwhile, a documentary celebrating this year’s centenary of the Ritz Cinema, Thirsk, is to go on show next week.

Local film-maker Sarah Macmillan’s documentary is being screened at the cinema from April 16 to April 19.

Harrogate: Boardroom of the North, can be viewed on the Yorkshire Film Archive website at www.yorkshirefilmarchive.com,