IT’S half a century since the stars came to St Annes to film scenes for one of the most memorable British films of the early 1960s.
Alan Bates and Blackpool-born June Ritchie were in town to shoot the honeymoon segment of A Kind of Loving, which marked the directorial debut of John Schlesinger, later an Oscar winner for his 1969 Hollywood classic Midnight Cowboy.
Schlesinger filmed scenes for A Kind of Loving all over the North West, including Preston’s Miller Arcade, a factory and a hospital in Blackburn, Bolton’s old Burnden Park football ground and homes in Salford.
It was decided that St Annes seafront would be the ideal setting for the honeymoon scene, although the destination in the script is actually Southport , and the Express reported that crowds turned out to greet the crew and cast.
But St Annes’ part in the finished movie lasts less than a minute.
After a brief panoramic shot of the seafront – clearly taken from a window of the old Majestic Hotel and overlooking the Pier – Bates and Ritchie are seen getting off their bus.
A distant shot of figures on the beach follows before the action switches, through the window of the Majestic, to a studio version of their hotel room.
The clip presents a fascinating snapshot of how the seafront used to be, with the most notable difference between then and now the fact that the whole of St Annes Pier is intact. The seaward end was destroyed by fire in the 1970s.
Otherwise, little has changed.
A Kind of Loving, based on the debut novel by Stan Barstow, won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1962. It is considered a classic of the British New Wave movement of the time.
Bates, Ritchie and Thora Hird starred in the tale of Vic Brown, a draughtsman in a Manchester factory who sleeps with a typist called Ingrid Rothwell who also works there. She falls for him but he is less enamoured of her.
He then learns she is pregnant so he proposes marriage and the couple move in with her domineering mother.
Ingrid has a miscarriage, Vic has regrets and comes home drunk. The couple then consider the possibility of making do with a ‘kind of loving’.
Novelist Barstow died earlier this year, while star Bates, director Schlesinger and Dame Thora Hird coincidentally all passed away in 2003.
June Ritchie is still occasionally acting at the age of 73.