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Reference number: 8500

Date: 1979

Producer: Alistair Scott and Mike Sharples

Production company: A co-production by Torness Film project in conjunction with Film Work Shop Trust

Sound: sound

Original format: super 8mm

Colour: col

Fiction: non-fiction

Running time: 29.30 mins

Description: A comprehensive record of the peaceful demonstration against the building of a nuclear power station at Torness, 1979. By blending actuality footage, speeches, interviews and song, the film explores the issues surrounding nuclear power and captures the mood of people who were there.

Look out for some well known figures, such as politician Robin Cook and religious leader Gordon Strachan.

See also ref. 5903

Note: The Torness Occupier's Handbook can befound on SCRAN at https://www.scran.ac.uk/database/record.php?usi=000-000-569-300-C [last accessed 17/05/2021]

Credits: p. and ed. Alistair Scott and Mike Sharples

Shotlist: [shotlisted from timecoded VHS, burnt-in timecode]

(0.00) title (0.12) views of Torness point at White Sands, Dunbar, Barns Ness Lighthouse is visible. Various shots showing the festival site occupied by members of the Torness Alliance, including musicians playing, people preparing soup outside in huge vats and transferring it to containers, construction work such as bricklaying, chopping wood, people sitting around in the grass listening to speeches (1.26) [unid.] woman makes speech with reference to Union vote for motion against nuclear power and weaponry (2.13) [unid.] man makes speech, making the point that direct confrontation and reasoned argument alone can't fight the nuclear establishment (3.13) continuation of woman's speech, regarding employment and the type of society and future people need "Crush that kind of force in society before it crushes us" (4.16) gvs people in field, one reads booklet [Torness Alliance Occupier's Handbook] (4.23) man and guitar on stage singing 'Here Comes the Sun' (4.48) as song continues, gvs festival site, shots include child with windmill in hand, c/u colourful balloons against a blue sky, child blowing bubbles, children playing on bouncy castle (5.28) Brian Irway, a student at Edinburgh University and member of Socialist Workers Party and originally from Pennsylvania, talks to camera about his experiences of the nuclear accident at Harrisburg, media coverage of the event and how it caused great confusion. He draws parallels between Harrisburg and Torness (6.57) shots of tables set up near shore with 'Stop Torness' petition being signed [commentary mentions there are over 20,000 signatories] (7.15) shots of people arriving on site (7.19) i/v Robin Cook, MP for Central Edinburgh on site - he sees this gathering as an important part of general campaign, but only effective if it raises the political debate and the media profile, and if it is backed up with detailed argument (7.52) i/v minister of the Church of Scotland, Gordon Strachan - he comments on the possibility of a clergyman's pilgrimage in a few weeks time, where they would raise profile and send message that people in society are unhappy about nuclear developments (8.27) members of 'Wasted State', a punk rock band from Dunbar give their reasons for fighting nuclear power (8.54) on Saturday evening, gvs people walking and cars driving along roadway [commentary explains some people want to occupy site immediately, whereas Torness Alliance had planned a one day occupation for Monday] (9.07) at dusk, gvs meeting to decide tactics, which are to be based on guidelines drawn up by Torness Alliance - speech reiterates themes of non-violence and the collective act (9.56) montage of still images of meeting [commentary sums up topics discussed at the meeting including approaches to scaling fence] (10.34) early the following morning, gvs people walking around site, shot of solitary police van, aerial view of site (11.04) people marching along roadside, someone leads bearing rainbow 'peace' flag, another group hold banner proclaiming they are 'Sussex Anarchists' (11.23) brief aerial view (11.27) police van arrives on site, a few policemen gather beside van (11.45) cut to crowds marching along to site (11.49) aerial view (11.54) people walk over bales of straw into proposed site of nuclear power station, with no resulting damage to fence (12.20) talking head Sheryl [works for Torness Alliance, part of the non-violent action resources group, part of the Leeds group, associated with Women against nuclear power ] sums up the process of occupying site peaceably. [ Three waves of occupiers went over fence, and there were no problems with the police. Around 1,500 people occupy site] (12.34) i/v Brian Irway on his experience crossing fence - intercut with people dressed as Chinese Dragon crossing fence to cheering crowd (13.31) [commentary reads out the 'Torness Declaration'] gvs site, c/u various protest slogans and banners (14.02) CND [Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] sign is drawn out on soil using painted stones, shot of people planting flowers around it. People gather together there, including children (14.56) aerial shot site showing an area holding plant and equipment being guarded by police [commentary notes police presence has been minimal] (15.07) confrontation between those advocating non-violent demonstration and another group (anarchists?) who are seen tearing down the fence with their hands. Policemen are seen patrolling fence during this incident. The group occupy compound and peacefully sit on machinery etc in protest [commentary notes there were no SCRAM - The Scottish Campaign to Resist the Atomic Menace - leaders around during this incident] (17.25) brief shot of Simon Furness from McAlpine's, the company contracted to initial construction work, at gate (17.29) gvs protestors sitting on machinery, police keep a watchful eye [commentary allows Simon to comment on events degenerating from peaceful demonstration to criminal damage and that there has been a loss of control] (18.16) the police Chief Superintendent addresses meeting at main gate to try to appease situation. gvs as majority of peaceful demonstrators walk over to occupying minority in inner compound (18.49) both groups confront one another at torn down fence, emotions are high (19.36) shots of people (19.36) with the decision made to leave peacefully and unite against nuclear power, gvs people walking away (20.02) aerial shot campsite (20.08) gvs campsite including children playing and people eating, someone has c/u sticker 'Nuclear power no thanks' on back of raincoat (20.37) i/v Sheryl inside central information tent, she talks through plan of action for how people will perform mass walkout in stages to leave site, about 60 people will stay behind to repair any damage, build a pyramid and plant trees (21.52) at site of Half Moon Cottage, John explains communal labour is being used to symbolically rebuild cottage using local materials found on site, including turf roof (22.56) gvs quarry with people diverting natural springwater, eroding embankment, moving rock to create a blockage in the road so bulldozers will be unable to work (23.54) i/v Sheryl, who explains how positive press coverage has been (24.14) shot of people listening to radio coverage on site, includes broadcast by reporter Mike Russell and spokesman for Torness Alliance, David Sommerville regarding withdrawal from site (24.50) crowd of people raising hands, presumably a vote to leave the site (25.10) David Sommerville (?) and Mary are interviewed about the weekend generally, the philosophy and achievements of the campaign in a wider sense (26.28) shot of man playing fiddle, and pulling back to show people dancing together, campfires, children and flowers (27.35) Sheryl comments on wider implications of the nuclear programme, renewable energy, empowering individuals to make decisions (28.32) aerial view site people spelling out the word 'NO' on ground far below (28.57) ecs (29.30)