The award-winning documentary about the Crewe Works boundary wall
- Credit: Pics; John Cocks
Two amateur film-makers from Crewe have won an award for their documentary about an important piece of the town’s railway heritage.
To many people it’s simply a factory wall, but to Jason Davidson and Peter Roch it was an important link to Crewe’s history.
The short film they made about the Crewe Works boundary wall, ‘This Wall is Crewe’, has won the History Channel’s Short Film Maker of the Year award and will be screened on television this year.
‘The film was an incredibly personal story,’ said co-director Jason Davidson, a risk and compliance manager for a fleet management company. ‘The premise for the competition was for filmmakers to tell the story of a local historical site. Just as we began discussing what topic we would cover it was announced by the council that the boundary wall of the old main erecting shops of Crewe railway works would be demolished.
‘This wall has become an iconic structure for Crewe ever since it was built and my own granddad and uncle worked within its walls. I was shocked at how little interest the council appeared to take, considering its historical significance.
‘A huge number of historically significant buildings have been demolished or cleared in Crewe over the years, and our cultural heritage is in danger of being erased and forgotten. That’s why we decided to create a film to show how important this seemingly forgotten wall is to the fabric of our town.’
The film includes archive footage, historical images and personal photos to bring the story of the wall to life in just two minutes.
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Co-director Pete Roch, an audio engineer, said: ‘The criteria of the submissions was strict, which meant we had to be very selective in how we told the story.
‘We decided to focus on how the immensely skilled hands of those workers created the steam locomotives that made Crewe and its railway works world famous, and how these trains helped change both Crewe and the rest of the country.
Pete added: ‘This is only the third film we’ve ever made, so to win the award and for the film to be shown on the History Channel to a nationwide audience is amazing. I’m really pleased that through this short film we can help bring the forgotten story of Crewe’s past to a wider audience.’
Jason added: ‘We knew that other filmmakers would focus on battles, castles and stately homes, which all have their significance, but there aren’t many of them in Crewe and it’s the buildings that most of use interact with every day but take for granted that can have the most impact.
‘The wall may not have the grandeur of a stately home or the might of a castle, but its walls created employment, communities, skills, and pride for generations of workers. We wanted people to take moment to ask themselves if these old buildings are only seen as available land, as the council do, or do they represent what it means to be from our historic railway town. People like to do Crewe down but there’s lots of history around the town – the wall still has World War Two camouflage on it – and we wanted to celebrate that history.
‘We didn’t expect to win. We were up against people with far more experience and equipment than we have. We don’t have fancy kit or a budget, so we have to think very carefully about everything we do. We just make the films on our laptops and work in each others houses on the dining table or wherever we happen to be. We love telling incredible but little-known stories. Our families said the films were good, but for other people to say that is amazing.’
The pair met when they started playing in the same indie-rock band and they made their first film in 2016 after forming the production company, Squeaky Pedal. In October, their film ‘This Little Chicken and the Victoria Cross’ which told the compelling and tragic story of the first London sailor to win the Victoria Cross during the First World War won the award for ‘Best Use of Archive’ at the Imperial War Museum Short Film Festival.
For more information about ‘This Wall is Crewe’ go to squeakypedal.co.uk