Home Contact Us Stadia Pix Articles All About You Riders to Remember
DVDs Books Pictures Archive Dream Teams Programme Generator
18/09/2022
Dream Team: Garry Robinson
The Golden Hammer - 1996
Your Feedback
 
11/09/2022
Raking Over Old Coals
The Golden Hammer - 1995
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
04/09/2022
Ode to Brough Park
The Golden Hammer - 1994
Which Craven?
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
07/06/2022
Ivan Miller
The Golden Hammer - 1993
Your Feedback
 
22/05/2022
Generator - Prem Pairs
The Golden Hammer - 1992
 
01/05/2022
As The Crow Flies
The Golden Hammer - 1991
 
24/04/2022
Generator - Danish League
The Golden Hammer - 1990
Your Feedback
 
18/04/2022
Oxford's Minor Miracle
The Golden Hammer - 1989
 
03/04/2022
The Golden Hammer - 1986
The Golden Hammer - 1987
The Golden Hammer - 1988
 
27/03/2022
The Golden Hammer - 1983
The Golden Hammer - 1984
The Golden Hammer - 1985
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
13/03/2022
The Golden Hammer - 1980
The Golden Hammer - 1981
The Golden Hammer - 1982
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
27/02/2022
The Golden Hammer - 1977
The Golden Hammer - 1978
The Golden Hammer - 1979
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
16/01/2022
The Speedway Bike
Your Feedback
 
02/01/2022
45 Years a Racer
Your Feedback
 
15/12/2021
DVD: Sheffield Memories
Your Feedback
 
21/11/2021
Ronnie's Newcastle Nightmare
Plus Points
 
14/11/2021
Book Review: Where Eagles Dared
The Cheetahs Are Back!
Your Feedback
 
07/11/2021
King's Lynn - Part Four
Track Pix: Redcar
Your Feedback
 
31/10/2021
DVD Review: Hans Nielsen
Track Pix: Sheffield
Your Feedback
 
10/10/2021
Artem Laguta
Track Pix: Birmingham
Your Feedback
 
03/10/2021
King's Lynn - Part Three
KENT - Central Park
Your Feedback
 
19/09/2021
Book Review: Yearbook 2020
Track Pix: Peterborough
Your Feedback
 
07/09/2021
Ian Hoskins Tribute
Ian Hoskins Tribute
Your Feedback
 
29/08/2021
Speedway's Black Hole
Track Pix: Mildenhall
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
22/08/2021
Kirky Lane Demolition
Cinder Kings Exhibition
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
09/08/2021
Aussies at Ipswich - 1
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
18/07/2021
Steve Langton Strikes Gold
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
11/07/2021
Book Review: Split Waterman
Your Feedback
 
27/06/2021
King's Lynn - Part 2
Your Feedback
 
13/06/2021
Irish Eyes Were Smiling
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
31/05/2021
King's Lynn - Part 1
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
23/05/2021
Speedway in Germany 1933
Dream Team : Kevin Huggett
Plus Points
Your Feedback
 
09/05/2021
The Bill Allen Mystery
Your Feedback
 
02/05/2021
The Ipswich Witches
The Danger of Winning
Your Feedback
 
25/04/2021
Australia 70/71
Canterbury Noise Trials
Your Feedback
 


Swagman Memories
By Richard Austin

Once a Jolly Swagman.

Possibly, the only film ever made with a total focus on speedway, maybe a testament to just how popular the sport was, prior to and following the conclusion of WW2. With the resumption of everyday life after the war, the sport continued to attract huge crowds.

I was able to obtain a VHS copy over here in the States a years ago, the film was released in the USA, 1951, titled 'Maniacs on Wheels'.

Most of the speedway scenes take place at the New Cross Track, I believe the actual league racing used, was filmed during Walthamstow track meetings.

I viewed my copy recently, interesting the film featured such a strong cast; many would become prominent in both British film and TV, for years to come. Dirk Bogarde, Bonar Colleano, Bill Owen, James Hayter, Thora Hird, Moira Lister, Renée Asherson, Sid James, Cyril Cusack, Sandra Dorne, Sam Kidd and Patric Doonan.

Tragically, Bonar Colleano, was killed in a car crash in Birkenhead, 18 August 1958, He left a wife, actress Susan Shaw, and three-year-old son Mark. Susan Shaw also appeared in a film with a speedway side story, titled 'Wall of Death' (a.k.a There is Another Sun). The film featured Maxwell Reed, a fun fair, Wall of Death rider, (Eddie 'racer' Peskett), who was trying to raise enough money to buy a bike and get back into speedway. There is a short speedway sequence, I haven't seen the film for years, but I do have 3 film stills.

The social aspects of the Swagman film, I found interesting, the lack of parked cars in the streets, gangs of kids playing, Patric Doonan (the brother) travelling to Spain to fight as member of the International Bridge, the Spanish Civil War. Everyone smoking, the showering of cinders spraying the crowd and into the faces of riders, the big time money the riders were earning.

Years ago, I was visiting my brother in London; his sister in law was a big Dirk Bogarde fan, both his films and novels. I accompanied her to a Bogarde book signing in a large store in London. After waiting in line, Bogarde signed her book, while handing it back, I mentioned, "I enjoyed your film, Once A Jolly Swagman", Dirk looked up in my direction, responding "I don�t like motor bikes".

 


Classic speedway film 'Once a Jolly Swagman' is now out on DVD. The film features Dirk Bogarde, Sidney James, Thora Hird and Bill Owen amongst the cast. You can order now at Amazon.

 

This article was first published on 24th February 2011


 

  • Richard Hodgson:

    "I had the pleasure of once meeting Arch Windmill who was one of the riders in the film. He told me that against advice Bonar Colleano had a go on one of the bikes on the set, fell off and damaged his wrist which upset the filming schedule. The Director was not pleased!"

  • David Briggs:

    "I remember my Dad telling me about "Swagman" in the '60s and for many years I wanted to see it. My pal managed to video it when it was shown on Channel 4 in the '90s and it lived up to all expectations. I now have the DVD of the film and thoroughly enjoyed it again, but boy did they enjoy a smoke in those days!! I remember seeing the wall of death movie one afternoon on Channel 4 (I think) and was delighted to see the speedway scene(scenes). Now, how about a modern speedway film, with all the wrangles going on at the moment, there shouldn't be a shortage of ideas for a script."

  • Eric Withams:

    "I saw "Swagman" when it was first released in 1948 and was a recent convert to speedway, having been taken to New Cross by my father that very summer. Interestingly the first race was filmed from just about the spot where we stood in the grandstand, so I'm able to re-create my first impressions. I thought all the riders had fallen off, and the race would have to be re-started! I was amazed when they all reached the back straight. The two-wheeling into the first bend doesn't look so impressive now compared with today's full throttle entries. We then started going to our local track, Rayleigh, but didn't realise that the Rockets' Ron Howes was the racing double for Dirk Bogarde."

  • Ian Weston:

    "It is mentioned in the article on Swagman that Ron Howe was the stunt man for Dirk Bogard.I can say with some confidence that it was my father Bill Weston who did that job. I still have some publicity photos somewhere, taken with them together with my father made up to look like him. He told some great stories about the film."

  • Mark Shipman:

    "Regarding Bill Weston (stunt double for Dirk Bogarde in 'Once a Jolly Swagman') - I'm currently researching the history of Crayford Speedway and have a great deal of info on Bill Weston who raced there from 1935. I'd be happy to share this with his son."

    [ Use Mobile Version ]
     

     

    Comment on this Article | Contact Us | Go Back to Main Menu

  •    Please leave your comments on this article or on the site as a whole