Years of war become unique’ living history

PUBLISHED: 13:06 26 October 2006 | UPDATED: 14:52 12 May 2010

Cameraman John Harwood, left, and Chris Murphy - Pic: Daniel Wilson 1987DW05

Cameraman John Harwood, left, and Chris Murphy - Pic: Daniel Wilson 1987DW05

THE unique Royston: a Town at War documentary has been launched on a DVD. The three-hour production covers all aspects of the Second World War seen through the eyes of people from Royston. It ranges across the Home Front and the memories of the servicemen

THE unique Royston: a Town at War documentary has been launched on a DVD.

The three-hour production covers all aspects of the Second World War seen through the eyes of people from Royston.

It ranges across the Home Front and the memories of the servicemen who were in battle across the globe: from the North Atlantic convoys to the Far East.

The second part shows the role the Americans played in the war: especially those who were based at Bassingbourn, Steeple Morden and Nuthampstead.

The launch in Royston Town Hall on Saturday morning allowed an audience of veterans and those taking part in the documentary the opportunity to see a 12-minute "trailer" to the production.

The man behind the project, Chris Murphy, is adamant that the work is unique and an important part of history.

"In 50 years time people will still have a record of what happened during the war years.

"That is the important aspect of the documentary. In a way it is living history because it is now preserved for the future," he said.

Mr Murphy and cameraman John Harwood, who runs Exposure TV in Hitchin, spent 17 days on "location" and then about 400 hours editing the work.

As both were putting the documentary together, Mr Murphy said: "The initial thoughts about it were not as grand as it has become. It seemed to take on a life of its own.

"It was made to generate interest and, I believe, we achieved that aim," he said.

Mr Murphy, who is chairman of the Royston branch of the Royal Air Forces Association, received a grant of £7,750 from the National Lottery's Home Recall Fund to help meet the costs of the documentary.

But that money has now been absorbed and the production of the DVD had cost a lot more.

As Mr Murphy said on Saturday: "Once there is the chance of doing something like this, everyone starts holding out their hands for money."

He said the archive footage alone costs £6-a-minute: and there are 47 minutes of such shots during the documentary.

There was also the question of obtaining licences to use other material.

And Mr Murphy had a problem, too, when it came to using music.

In the original documentary he had permission to use part of the soundtrack from John Williams's music to Saving Private Ryan, but when it came to transferring this onto the DVD the recording company refused.

But Mr Harwood came to the rescue as he knew someone who knew someone who actually worked in Hollywood producing music scores.

"The music is unique and I find it more emotional than the original we used," said Mr Murphy.

He told his audience: "This documentary has not been made from a commercial point of view. It's about the people here and their experiences and is our contribution to history.


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