Bridport & West Dorset News, Views, Videos & Curiosities

Musical premiere for West Bay melodrama

COMPOSER Rachel Leach has created a dramatic score to bring to life a silent film made in Bridport in the late 1930s.

Dope Under Thorncombe, a melodrama based around West Bay, was made by local people under the direction of amateur filmmaker Frank Trevett.

His daughter, Vivienne Smith, pictured with the camera that captured the story, handed the film over to rural media charity Trilith for safekeeping.

Trilith’s Trevor Bailey said: “It was shot on 9.5mm film, the amateur’s favourite film choice in the 1930s. It was an amazing project for local people to take on and has been crying out to be given its own special music and to be seen more widely.”

The film receives its musical premiere at Bridport Arts Centre on February 11 at 7.30pm.

Mrs Smith, who lives in Bridport, said: “My father bought the cine camera when my brother, Rex Trevett, was born and that was in 1933 for filming the family. Dad was very keen on his hobbies – he’d throw himself with much enthusiasm into any hobby.

“He liked using his cine camera and thought he’d like to do something different to filming the family.”

Thriller writer Andrew Spiller, who lived locally, offered to write the story, which is about dope smuggling under Thorncombe Beacon. Frank Trevett, who was a hairdresser, enlisted his family and friends for the starring roles.

“They did it purely for their own pleasure, their own enjoyment,” Mrs Smith said.

“They would be so thrilled to think that it is going to be seen. Dad would be so pleased, they all would be, that it hasn’t been lost and forgotten.”

Rachel Leach previously worked with Trilith on a ‘radio ballad’, which combined music and the memories of people who worked in Dorset cinemas in their great days. 

She has worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Aldeburgh Festival, Glyndebourne Opera, Opera North and many others. Her music has been performed at major venues and she has created music for children and for BBC broadcasts.

West Dorset District Council and the PRS Foundation have funded Trilith to commission the music.

A live performance of the score and film can also be seen at Burton Bradstock on April 24. A recorded version at Eype Centre for the Arts is due to be staged on March 6.

The project has also seen the creation of a website that includes photographs and interviews with local people by journalist Margery Hookings. This will be officially launched later in the year.

Funding for this part of the project came from the new Digital Film Archive Fund, administered by South West Screen.

Trevor Bailey said: “The aim is to draw the website’s visitors from initial interest in the place or in the arts to fascination with films and vice versa. In tourism terms, it will promote the idea of coming to see where the film was shot.”

Tickets for the live premiere cost £6 and can be obtained from Bridport Arts Centre online at or by calling the box office on 01308 424204.

Note: 1) This is a lightly edited version of a press release issued by Trilith.

2) After the performance at Bridport Arts Centre, the editor of this site (Jonathan Hudston) will be looking to record interviews with members of the audience, to gather reaction to the show. So, if you go, and you’d like to have a chat afterwards, I’d be very pleased to meet you.