So, the Speights now needed to find a lucrative use for the putative Thames barge that was sitting in splendour in their back garden and just then along comes the perfect vehicle, the filming of ‘Atonement’. The director needs a centrepiece for the 5 minute tracking shot describing the chaos and horror of Operation Dynamo or the Dunkirk evacuation. The involvement of Thames barges is well known, and the image of ‘Ethel Everard’ grounded on the beach her sails in tatters makes a strong statement.
So, the barge is given a stage name, ‘Lyndie’ painted black and shipped off to Redcar beach where they are setting up the shoot. She arrives in four pieces and is assembled on the beach and then ‘distressed’ and a redundant suit of old sails is supplied by Jimmy Lawrence and hung on the rig.
‘I’m ready for my close up now’ as they say and the shoot can begin. For those who haven’t seen the film this is the most dramatic part of it and well worth picking out if you’re not entertained by Edwardian upper class angst! We are biased but we think she deserves full billing along with Kiera Knightley et al,.
Tragically, David passed away around this time and though she made it back to Walton she didn’t venture out again, becoming the biggest and strangest garden shed in England for the next seven years.
Next in Chapter 4 …The search and rescue mission…