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Ipswich: Engineering company formed backdrop for Attenborough’s film the Angry Silence

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 August 2014

Richard Attenborough in the Angry Silence, filmed at Reavell.

Richard Attenborough in the Angry Silence, filmed at Reavell.

One of Richard Attenborough’s most successful films of the late 1950s was “The Angry Silence” which featured many scenes filmed at the Reavell works (later Compair Reavell) in Ranelagh Road, Ipswich.

It was a story about a young worker who stands up to the union leadership at a large engineering work – and while Attenborough was already a big star, this helped to confirm his reputation as one of the country’s top film actors.

The story was about a young worker who resists pressure to enrol him into trade union activities and is then ostracised by the rest of the workforce.

Many of the staff in the workshop at Reavell were extras in the film which had a gala premiere at the Ritz Cinema in the Buttermarket (later the ABC) in 1960.

Former Ipswich council leader and major Peter Gardiner worked at Compair Reavell for several decades, and started work in 1963, just a few years after the filming.

He said: “People would talk about the film quite a lot – it was certainly a major topic of conversation in the place for several years.

“A lot of people saw themselves in the film – but that time the only place you could see it was in the cinema, although it did turn up on the television once or twice.”

He did not recall any of his colleagues having mentioned meeting the stars, but they did have fond memories of their brush with fame.

Had he had his way, he would have had another East Anglian connection – for years he tried to get enough backing to make a biopic of the Thetford-born revolutionary philosopher Tom Paine, but no one would back his vision with hard cash.

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