New film captures ‘precious place and time’ of renowned festival

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 July 2018

Eliza and Martin Carthy soundcheck

Eliza and Martin Carthy soundcheck


Two film-makers are making a documentary about the town’s famous folk festival entitled ‘A Small Quiet English Town’.

Three ladies and a fiddle from A Small Quiet English TownThree ladies and a fiddle from A Small Quiet English Town

Co-Producers Paul Tully and Justin Hankinson are raising money to complete the project, which tells the story of the Sidmouth Folk Festival from its very beginning, through song, dance, anecdote, unseen archive, spoken word, interview and animation.

They are launching a Crowdfunding campaign to raise the £25,000 they need to get the film to the big and small screen.

Mr Tully said: “With this final funding we will be able to buy in precious archive footage and work with the best post production people to deliver this film to the highest quality it deserves.”

In 1955, The English Folk Dance and Song Society made the far-reaching decision to place a festival of folk song and dance in Sidmouth by stating ‘Sidmouth is an ideal place for a Seaside Holiday with Dancing’ and the rest as they say, is history!

Musicians at Sidmouth Folk Festival from A Small Quiet English TownMusicians at Sidmouth Folk Festival from A Small Quiet English Town

The festival grew and hosted spectacular folk acts from around the world. The film, A Small Quiet English Town tells the story of how this came about and why the festival nearly disappeared, only to remain today one of most important and longest running festivals in the UK calendar.

The film has taken four years to make. It’s a real labour of love for the film-makers. It bursts with nostalgia and captures a place and time precious in the folk world. Ralph McTell, Eliza and Martin Carthy, Steve Knightley (Show of Hands), Oysterband, India Electric Co., Lori Campbell and many other folk names appear especially for the film, performing their favourite songs and giving insights into why Sidmouth is so special.

Mr Knightley has penned the title track. It is hoped that funds from the film will go back into the festival for years to come.The Crowdfunder campaign will enable the producers to complete the film with the renowned post production houses Films@59 and Wounded Buffalo in Bristol. It has not been confirmed whether extracts from the film will be shown at this year’s event. It will be released on DVD and VoD after a limited cinema release in the South West.

To support the fundraising campaign visit

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Sidmouth Herald. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest from the Sidmouth Herald