On Saturday, we attended part of the International Annual General Meeting of the Arthur Ransome Society or TARS, marking 25 years. TARS is a worldwide organisation which celebrates the life of Ransome and also encourages free spirited adventures for children and grown ups alike in the present day. Although based in the 1920's and 1930's, Ransome's ever popular stories set the scene for anybody to create their own adventures, camping, fishing, being on the water and playing pirates. People attended from as far afield as New Zealand to stay at the conference centre at Belsey Bridge, near Bungay in the unspoilt Waveney valley.
Sophie Neville, President of TARS gave an informative talk about the making of Coot Club and Big Six (the two books based on the Broads Rivers of Norfolk and Suffolk) by BBC Television in 1984. Sophie was Researcher for these productions, arranging most of casting (in particular the children) and locations. She also played one of the Walker children, 'Titty' in the 1974 Swallows and Amazons feature film, set in the Lake District.
Sophie brought some of the original handmade flags from both the 1974 film and the television series, produced ten years later. These were sent specially by Producer Richard Pilbrow from America for the occasion. On show was the green white elephant flag, from the Lakeland houseboat, owned by Uncle Jim (memorably portrayed by actor Ronald Fraser), a Jolly Roger from the DEATH AND GLORY boat and a series of Swallows and Amazons pennants.
One of the books, published by Sophie, details the making of the Swallows and Amazons Lakeland film and includes many funny anecdotes. This and other titles are available to purchase from Sophie.