Vernon Sewell is a B-movie film writer / director of the 1950’s who seemed to have an obsession with making films in Shoreham, that included the harbour, boats and often his own boat. (the S.Y. Gilert, 122 tons which was berthed at Southwick’s Lady Bee starred as the Ghost Ship).
Films to look out for that were filmed in Shoreham are listed below. Many are directed by Vernon and/or produced at Brighton Studios:
Ghost Ship (1952)
The ghost ship was played by Sewell’s own boat, which he had commanded during the war and then purchased. It was berthed at Southwick’s Lady Bee yard, the S.Y. Gelert, 122 tons .
Rogues Yarn (1957)
Rogues Yarn is a detective story built on some fairly un-involving dialogue scenes. There are some good location backdrops of Shoreham Harbour and on board a motor yacht berthed at the Lady Bee Yard.
The Flaw (1955)
Murder and infidelity set in the middle class circles of Sussex society. This is an interesting how-he-dunnit filmed at a house near the Old Fort, Brighton and Shoreham Harbour.
Shadow of Fear (1963)
This is a b-movie filler with some wooden acting from the ever-conistent Paul Maxwell. Waiting for his flight home from Baghdad, Bill takes a message from a British secret agent – that’s the whole plot. Shoreham plays a location role for the climax at the harbour and power station.
Dangerous Voyage (1954)
Lady Bee Marina and Tarmount Lane Police station feature in Dangerous Voyage ( and also Ghost Ship and Rogues Yarn). I have a suspicion one of the boats is Vernon’s as it looks suspiciously like Gelert again.
Here’s a curious still from Dangerous Voyage – recognise the spy’s secret map? (featuring a building beyond the lock built on a spit, with 2 chimneys – even though at the time of filming there was only one chimney) .The story was b-movie bunkum about radiation, a bomb and missing stowaways from a salvaged ship in the channel. The poster over eggs the excitement a bit, as you can see from the screen shots.
Uneasy Terms (1948)
Uneasy Terms was an early film for Vernon Sewell filmed at Shoreham, and mainly at night. Vernon references it in his interview (link at bottom of this article).
The Battle for the V1 (1958)
The Battle for the V1 has been well documented before but a curio in another photograph is worth noting. Nelson picks up the story:
We puzzled a lot about this photo (top – donated by Jean Tyler). How could a WW2 gun appear with the 1950’s eastern harbour arm in the background? Spinalman found the answer with two stills from the 1958 film ‘Battle of the V1.’ The gun was one of the props for a scene filmed on the fort – an 88mm German anti aircraft gun! Real? No, apparently not. Ex Southwick resident Pat Bareham tells us her husband John who worked at Shoreham’s Linscer & Barnes at the time was hired to cover the wooden dummy gun in zinc to make it look more realistic – sandbags were in fact filled with sawdust from Pullins – and John was even roped in as an extra!
The Battle for the V1 (1958) https://www.reelstreets.com/films/battle-of-the-v-1/
Shoreham was a regular location for films produced out of the Brighton Studios – a small single stage film production building in St. Nicholas Road, Brighton. This two storey building was a film studios in the 1950’s and early 60’s – and then became an Auction House, and lately converted to flats.
Hell Drivers (1957)
A summary of Shoreham Films wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Hell Drivers (1957). The story is said to be inspired by the excavation of Truleigh Hill to build the underground ROTOR radar station in the 1950’s. The film’s story is about the rivalry between tipper truck drivers. It is filmed at Ford airfield, and on Beeding Hill and Truleigh Hill. The climax is a truck chase scene ending with a crash over the cliffs above a Beeding quarry.
For Those in Peril (1944)
Special mention of “For Those in Peril” (1944). An Ealing Films stiff upper-lip account of the work of RAF Air Sea Rescue boats – filmed at Newhaven, Birling gap and in the Channel. Shoreham airport and town features in a sequence where a Walrus seaplane is seen flying from the airport and over the town.
If you’d like to know more about Vernon Sewell’s career in film-making there is an interview here.
Paul Osborne 2020