Home Contact Us Stadia Pix Articles All About You Riders to Remember
DVDs Books Pictures Archive Dream Teams Programme Generator
21/11/2021
Ronnie's Newcastle Nightmare
Plus Points
 
14/11/2021
Book Review: Where Eagles Dared
The Cheetahs Are Back!
Your Feedback
 
07/11/2021
King's Lynn - Part Four
Track Pix: Redcar
Your Feedback
 
31/10/2021
DVD Review: Hans Nielsen
Track Pix: Sheffield
Your Feedback
 
10/10/2021
Artem Laguta
Track Pix: Birmingham
Your Feedback
 
03/10/2021
King's Lynn - Part Three
KENT - Central Park
Your Feedback
 
19/09/2021
Book Review: Yearbook 2020
Track Pix: Peterborough
Your Feedback
 
07/09/2021
Ian Hoskins Tribute
Ian Hoskins Tribute
Your Feedback
 
29/08/2021
Speedway's Black Hole
Track Pix: Mildenhall
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
22/08/2021
Kirky Lane Demolition
Cinder Kings Exhibition
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
09/08/2021
Aussies at Ipswich - 1
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
18/07/2021
Steve Langton Strikes Gold
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
11/07/2021
Book Review: Split Waterman
Your Feedback
 
27/06/2021
King's Lynn - Part 2
Your Feedback
 
13/06/2021
Irish Eyes Were Smiling
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
31/05/2021
King's Lynn - Part 1
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
23/05/2021
Speedway in Germany 1933
Dream Team : Kevin Huggett
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
09/05/2021
The Bill Allen Mystery
Your Feedback
 
02/05/2021
The Ipswich Witches
The Danger of Winning
Your Feedback
 
25/04/2021
Australia 70/71
Canterbury Noise Trials
Your Feedback
 


Tracking Down the Swagman
By Ian Harwood

Noticing just now the link to Amazon for the Once A Jolly Swagman DVD reminded me of the time over twenty years ago now that I decided to try and track down this mysterious and rarely seen piece of speedway folklore.

Remember 1987 was pre-internet and pre-DVD, and I couldn't find out if if the film was available on video. I decided to do a bit of research and picked up the phone.

Assuming it was probably a Rank film I decided to ring Pinewood Studios. "Hello, my name's Ian Harwood. I'm trying to find out how I could get to see a film called Once A Jolly Swagman". "I'll just put you through to archives". So far so good.

A very frosty lady answered the phone so I repeated my question . "Why?" came the response. "Erm," I said, mouth going dry, "Well, it's a film about speedway ...."

"I know what it's about", she interupted. I thought, blimey, she probably knows every film they ever made.

"Well", I started again, "I'm, interested in speedway and I wondered if there was anyway of being able to see the film. I don't think it's available on video."

What came next was better than I could ever have expected. "I've just sent it over to the British Film Institute for a viewing. You could try calling them". So I did.

Turns out some ex-West Ham fans had booked it for a club visit to the BFI but had cancelled. As luck would have it I was due to visit friends in Kent (I'm in Cheshire) about a week later so a trip into London by train was a piece of cake.

I think it cost me something like £25 for the viewing. I was shown to a little rooms with a Steinbeck machine and four cans of film which I had to load myself. I was really excited. I felt like I'd personally discovered this lost and forgotten speedway film as I sat and watched it whir and flicker in the semi-darkness. I felt like Howard Carter lifting the lid on Tutankhamen's sarcophagus.

Then would you believe it got shown the following week on Channel 4.

 


Classic speedway film 'Once a Jolly Swagman' is now out on DVD. The film features Dirk Bogarde, Sidney James, Thora Hird and Bill Owen amongst the cast. You can order now at Amazon.

 

This article was first published on 10th February 2011


 

  • Bob Rowe:

    "I enjoyed the recent piece about Once a Jolly Swagman, which has also had several showings on Talking Pictures channel on tv. I first went to New Cross in 1951! Another film from the same era that has appeared on there is There Is Another Sun, in which there is a lot of footage from Walthamstow Speedway."

    [ Use Mobile Version ]
     

     

    Comment on this Article | Contact Us | Go Back to Main Menu

  •    Please leave your comments on this article or on the site as a whole