Title ID 1289Collection ID206
TitleVictim of progress
KeywordsIndustry Landscape Parks Rivers Urban Areas
LocalCroydon Beddington Carshalton Morden Merton Wandsworth
RegionalSurrey Greater London
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionMr A. Bales
FormatStandard 8mm Colour Sound
Duration11min. 47sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


This short amateur film about the River Wandle was made in response to the polluting of the river by industries situated along its course. The film, accompanied by a music soundtrack and narrative, includes shots of the river and surrounding land-uses, as well as describing the history of the area through which the river flows on its way to the Thames.


Opening titles: "Victim of Progress" & "In his obsession for wealth man usually defiles the beautiful and ignores the historical. This he does in the name of progress". Diagram of the River Wandle. The narrator talks about the sources of the river; the narrative in accompanied by shots of what remains of watermills located on the river. The disposal of waste into the river is highlighted, accompanied by shots of waste disposal outlets flowing into the river; foam floats on the surface. Croydon, which was a popular spot for fishing is now heavily polluted with industry based in the area; shots of factories, gas works and cooling towers. The narrator talks about how the Wandle Open Spaces Committee was formed in response to the "spoliation" of the river. The committee was responsible for many parks along the river; diagram river with parks. Shots of Beddington Park. The narrator quotes Ruskin concerning the source of the river; shots of Carshalton; children pond-dipping; close-up of small fish swimming in a jar. Shots of a boating lake and park; close-up of a sign: "Surrey County Council, Rubbish in Watercourses". Shots of the river full of rubbish are accompanied by the narrator quoting Alexander Pope who described the river as the "blue transparent Wandle". Shots of the river and watermill at Morden as well as the Merton Priory gate which used to stand on the site of what is now industrial land; close-up of stone plaque on gate. Shot of a painting of Lord Admiral Nelson; the narrator describes how he lived near the river at Merton. Shots of terraced housing; street signs: "Nelson Road", "Hardy Road", "Trafalgar Road" and "Victory Road". Further shots of the river with industrial surroundings; the river flows in concrete channels. Sign: "London Borough of Wandsworth Point Pleasant". Shots of the river as it joins the River Thames; gas works can be seen in the distance. The narrator talks about the Huguenots settling in Wandsworth and how the settlement grew. The film ends with shots of the river and the heavy industry located near by. Closing title: "The End".