Mild and Bitter

Archive: Wessex Film & Sound Archive
ID No.: AV24/1
Title: Mild and Bitter
Date: 1963
Film-maker: Mr Don Reynolds
Colour: Colour
Sound: Silent
Duration of complete item: 33 min.
Themes: Post-War Reconstruction


Amateur film by Mr Don Reynolds comparing post war reconstruction of the cities of Plymouth and Portsmouth.


Two old friends meet and talk over a drink, one hails from Plymouth (mild), the other from Portsmouth (bitter) and they compare the post-war rebuilding of the two cities by 1963. The film includes shots of Portsmouth Guildhall Square from the top of the clocktower before the redevelopment started, but the new Magistrates Courts building is evident. The railway station also appears. A bomb site used to be the Hippodrome Variety Theatre and is now occupied by new offices, but signs of Blitz devastation are still evident, with redevelopment only just about to occur. Footage of Charlotte Street Market shows outdoor retail activity, and is compared with the nearby shopping centre. These scenes are contrasted unfavourably with the much more complete, and modern-looking, reconstruction of Plymouth city centre at this time.


After the 1940-41 Blitz, Portsmouth city centre and Naval Dockyard were devastated, leaving huge gaps and bomb craters that took over three decades to redevelop, including the notorious 1960s concrete "monstrosity" the Tricorn Centre (now demolished). Large parts of the central Portsmouth population were made homeless, and moved after the War to a vast new council estate at Leigh Park, Havant, outside the city boundary. Plymouth was equally badly hit, but the City Council chose to redevelop in a much more radical way than Portsmouth, and much sooner, inspired by the 1944 Abercombie Report to create a ‘new Plymouth’.

Don Reynolds was an architect working for Portsmouth City Council at this time, and was part of a team that designed and built a number of civic buildings to replace those destroyed in the Blitz. This is shown in his film ‘The Builders’ (Ref: AV24/3) made between 1957-61. Mr Reynolds became Chairman of Portsmouth Cine Club in 1960. Early films were silent, but Mr Reynolds went on to record commentaries and music for his films with a 'Synchrodek' and later a Norimat Special D cine projector which allowed for fully synchronised sound. Films held at the archive have sound on separate 1⁄4 inch audio tape.

Mild and Bitter (1963)

Mild and Bitter (1963)

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