To mark the start of the Aldeburgh Documentary Festival, we are launching a search to identify and find any living members of the ‘Greenwich Girls Home’ who featured in what is thought to be the earliest-known documentary film footage of Aldeburgh, which was recently unearthed in the British Pathé archive.
The two minute British Pathé clip, entitled Many Girls in a Boat, has not been seen since first being made and screened in the summer of 1932, and shows a group of young women from an institution called the Greenwich Girls Home in London staying in a houseboat on the Aldeburgh coast: frolicking in the sea; having lunch, and receiving and opening letters – all overseen by a rather stern-looking matron.
The houseboat in the film is the fishing smack, Ionia, the barely visible remains of which can still be seen today near the Martello Tower at Slaughden Quay in Aldeburgh. The boat had become stuck in the treacherous mud of the River Alde, and was then used as a houseboat. In 1974 it was burnt, as it had become too unsafe for public use.
Actress and Director of the Aldeburgh Documentary Festival, Diana Quick is leading the search for the girls featured in the clip, who will now be in their late eighties or early nineties. As she explains, “This film truly belongs to another age, and though the film with its whimsical footage was clearly staged, I really hope that the girls were happy during their time here. We want to invite them back to Aldeburgh, to celebrate their association with the town and their accidental role in Suffolk documentary history.”
Are you one of the girls in the film? If so, we want to hear your memories of the making of this early piece of Suffolk documentary footage and your experiences of Aldeburgh in the thirties.
If you can identify yourself, we would love you to revisit Aldeburgh, and it would be our pleasure to give you complimentary accommodation for the weekend at the Brudenell Hotel (located within sight of the remains of the Ionia, your summer home in the thirties).
Note – this offer is open only to the girls featured in the British Pathé clip, which can be viewed in its entireity by clicking here
MANY GIRLS IN A BOAT – AT ALDEBURGH
If you are one of the girls in the footage (or a family member or friend of one of the girls)
please contact Benjamin Webb / Kiki King
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
020 7221 1540 / 07930 408 224