Southampton Street today opposite the Huntley Boorne & Stephens Southampton Street entrance

For local historians with a penchant for photographs and films, David Cliffe’s Picture Palace to Penny Plunge may turn out to be the book of the year. Following up on the filming of A Bridge too Far on Hill Street in 1976 led to the discovery of ‘The Firefighters’.

‘The Firefighters’ came from the Childrens’ Film Foundation. It was one of the films made specifically for the young audiences of Saturday morning pictures and similar showings.

Scenes from the film were shot in and around the Huntley Boorne & Stevens factory on Southampton Street, Church Street and St Giles Close. The factory had closed but had not yet been demolished. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to trace a copy of the film anywhere but there are stills on the reelstreets website.

One of the shots is looking out from the Southampton Street entrance of Huntley Boorne & Stevens at the buildings opposite (pictured above). This entrance no longer exists and the gap has been filled in with offices and flats. There are other views of St Giles and the factory walls along Church Street before the houses were built on St Giles Close.

St Giles’ Close Playground

The film was made in 1975 and starred actors Sam Kydd (1915-1982) and Anne Stallybrass (1938- ), who were well known to television audiences at the time.

Huntley Boorne & Stevens factory from the Mill Lane water tower 1900-03. Image from a lantern slide © Reading Borough Council (Reading Museum)

  1. Two Rivers Press – Picture Palace to Penny Plunge
  2. A Bridge too Far – the view from Hill Street
  3. Children’s Film Foundation
  4. The Firefighters –