The first public meeting held by the Society was in the autumn of 1960, at which the film ‘A Journey into the Weald of Kent’ was screened. This was a lyrical 23 minute colour documentary narrated by John Betjeman and made for National Benzole Petroleum Ltd.
To mark the 50th anniversary of WKPS, the Society’s Council commissioned a new 30 minute documentary to be made by students in the area. It showed life in the Weald of Kent in the early years of the 21st century and looked at the changes that took place there during the 50 year life of the Society, as seen through the eyes of young people who live there. It also highlights those things that the Society fights to protect and preserve, and the two documentaries can be seen together as two snapshots taken at different times in time of the life of the Weald.
Students at Cranbrook School were invited by the Society to make the documentary and a team of young filmmakers toured the Weald filming material and interviewing local residents. Adam Nicolson, former Society Vice-President, narrated the new film, which featured music specially composed, arranged and conducted by Cranbrook School’s then Head of Music, Malcolm Riley.
Following a group of young people cycling through the Weald, the new film illustrates the changing nature of farming and the pattern of settlements and community life in our area. They discover what has happened in our villages, with the closure of local shops and the gradual demise of traditional local businesses (such as blacksmiths and bakeries), the ever increasing mobility of the population, housing problems, the growing dominance of the motor car (including the construction of the M20), the High Speed Rail Link and the conversion of barns and other old commercial and agricultural buildings into dwellings. The documentary also recognises the positive influence of WKPS in helping to keep alive and protect the unique character of this very special place.
A DVD containing both the original Betjeman and recent Cranbrook production is available for purchase at £10 plus £2.50 p&p per copy. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to purchase a copy.