Bovingdon Rocking all Summer

queen concert

 

Filming of Bohemian Rhapsody, about the British rock band Queen, has started at Bovingdon Airfield and is due to run all summer. Deadline.com (an online blog) broke the news last year that Bryan Singer was in talks to direct with Mr Robot star Rami Malek playing legendary frontman Freddie Mercury.
Graham King is producing via his GK Films for 20th Century Fox and New Regency. The project has been in development with King for about nine years and the most recent script is from Theory Of Everything scribe Anthony McCarten. The film currently has a December 25, 2018 release date.

According to Queenonline.com, Singer is the “perfect choice to recreate the fabulous Queen years which brought us such unforgettable moments as Live Aid.” That 1985 benefit concert will be “faithfully recreated for a key sequence in the film,”.

Malek as the strutting, operatically-voiced Mercury is “utterly dedicated to the project,” according to bandmembers Roger Taylor and Brian May. “He’s completely living and breathing Freddie already, which is wonderful.” Taylor and May are also executive music producers on the movie.




The Bovingdon Bug

The Bovingdon Bug

An extract from ‘Graham Young, the St. Albans Poisoner’

By Johnny Sharp – CrimeLibrary.com

As it turned out, the new recruit at John Hadland Ltd. had no need to avail himself of the substances available on site. He had already been to London armed with the same fake ID of “M.E. Evans” that he had used as a teenager, and bought a new batch of “antimony potassium tartrate” (the full name by which he insisted on calling it) and thallium from a West End chemist. Within days of starting work at Bovingdon, the new boy happily accepted the job of making tea for his workmates.

The first colleague Young made friends with was 41-year-old Ron Hewitt, who was soon to leave the firm but had stayed on for a few weeks to show the new boy the ropes so he could take over his job.

Two older members of staff, 59-year-old storeroom manager Bob Egle and 60-year-old stock supervisor Fred Biggs, also befriended Young, lending him cigarettes and money for his bus fare. However, after a time Egle began to spend periods off work ill. Around the same time, Ron Hewitt developed diarrhea, sharp stomach pains and a burning sensation in the throat after drinking a cup of tea fetched by Young. The symptoms lasted a few days, but doctors could only suggest food poisoning or gastric flu. When he was well enough to return to work, though, the symptoms promptly returned, invariably after drinking tea. Over the next three weeks he suffered no fewer than twelve bouts of this mysterious illness.

Hadlands Phototronic

After leaving the company Hewitt had no further symptoms, while Bob Egle also recovered after a holiday. However, the day after returning to work, Egle’s fingers went numb, and he couldn’t move without agonizing pain. By the time he was taken to hospital, numbness had spread through his body until he was virtually paralyzed, and unable to speak. To the horror of his workmates, he died 10 days later, on July 7, 1971. The cause of death was officially bronchial pneumonia arising from an unusual type of polyneuritis known as the “Guillan-Barre syndrome.”

“It’s very sad,” said Graham to colleagues, “that Bob should have come through the terrors of Dunkirk (a crucial battle of World War Two) only to fall victim to some strange virus.” Such was Young’s very vocal concern, he was chosen to accompany the firm’s managing director to the cremation.

In the weeks following Egle’s death, the staff at Bovingdon tried to put the tragic incident behind them. Yet the rather work-shy young storeroom assistant insisted on continually musing about possible medical causes for Bob Egle’s bizarre symptoms. Then in September 1971 Fred Biggs also began to suffer the same symptoms. And he wasn’t the only one.

Young’s fellow storeroom worker Jethro Batt, 39, was made a cup of coffee by Graham one evening, but threw it away complaining it tasted bitter. “What’s the matter?” asked Young. “D’you think I’m trying to poison you?” 20 minutes later Batt vomited and felt intense pain in his legs. Fellow staff members Peter Buck and David Tilson also suffered. In the case of Batt and Tilson, their hair fell out, leaving the latter, as doctors described him, “looking like a three-quarter plucked chicken.” Young had administered various doses of different poisons among his workmates, designed to confuse doctors looking for a common cause of the complaints. These manifested themselves in a number of unlikely ways. A receptionist, Mrs. Diana Smart, complained of suffering from foul smelling feet for months, while Buck and Tilson were rendered impotent for some weeks after their initial illness. “I was going around with several girls at the time,” Tilson later related in court, “and I became useless in bed.”

Their ailments were put down to some kind of virus in the local area, which became known as “the Bovingdon Bug.” By unfortunate coincidence, a stomach bug had spread among the village children on a couple of occasions in the preceding months. Many workers speculated, just as the residents of Neasden had a decade before, that a contaminated water supply might be the cause. Others suspected radioactivity from experiments in a nearby airfield could be the culprit.

If this was the same virus that had spread among the village’s children, it had certainly assumed a virulent new form. After briefly recovering from his first experience of Young’s unique approach to coffee-making, Jethro Batt fell ill again, and after a few days he was in such pain he later said he contemplated suicide. He remained in hospital for some weeks.

Fred Biggs’ condition was the worst of the new outbreak. His condition deteriorated to the point where his skin began to peel off, and the pain was such that he could not stand the weight of a bed sheet on his body.

Even that was not serious enough for Young’s liking, it appears. “‘F’ (Fred) is responding to treatment,” he was later discovered to have written in his diary. “He is being obstinately difficult. If he survives a third week he will live. I am most annoyed.”

Young’s pessimism was misplaced. On November 19 death finally came to Fred Biggs, as merciful release.




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Top Twelve Films shot on Bovingdon Airfield

Top Twelve Films shot on Bovingdon Airfield
In the 1960/70s, Bovingdon was used in the production of four World War II films, The War Lover (1962); 633 Squadron (1964) Hanover Street (1979) and Mosquito Squadron (1969). Although flying ceased at the airfield in 1969, it was also used to film parts of the flying car scenes in the James Bond film ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ starring Roger Moore, when the palm trees fold down as it takes off. The site was also used in the 2016 Star Wars spinoff film Rogue One, representing the planet Scarif.
On television it served as the location for at least one black and white episode of The Avengers “The Hour That Never Was”, starring Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg featuring Gerald Harper and Roy Kinnear as well as the 1980 Blake’s 7 episode The Harvest of Kairos as the surface of the planet Kairos. An airstrip at the airfield is also reputed to have been used in the opening credits of the 1967 television series The Prisoner in which Patrick McGoohan is seen driving a Lotus Super Seven car past the camera at speed. It has continued to be used in various TV shows up to the present day.

warlover

The War Lover (1962)
The War Lover a British black-and-white war film directed by Philip Leacock and written by Howard Koch loosely based on the 1959 novel, The War Lover by John Hersey, altering the names of characters and events but retaining its basic framework. It stars Steve McQueen, Robert Wagner, Shirley Anne Field, Ed Bishop and features a young Michael Crawford.
Plot: In 1943, Captain Buzz Rickson (Steve McQueen) is an arrogant pilot in command of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber nicknamed The Body. While stationed in England during World War II, one of the bombing missions is aborted because clouds obscure all potential targets, but Rickson ignores the order to turn around and dives under the clouds. He completes the mission, at the cost of one of the bombers in his squadron and its entire crew. Rickson revels in the fighting and destruction; when he is assigned to drop propaganda leaflets on a later mission, he makes his displeasure felt by buzzing the airfield. His commanding officer tolerates his repeated insubordination because he is the best pilot in the bomber group. Even so, when he asks the flight surgeon his opinion, the latter is uncertain whether Rickson is a hero or a psychopath. However Rickson’s crew, especially his co-pilot, First Lieutenant Ed Bolland (Robert Wagner), trust his great flying skill.

Read more on all the top twelve films on Bovingdon Airfield.




Extract from Bovingdon School Log Books One Hundred Years Ago

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Extract from Bovingdon School Log Books One Hundred Years Ago

Jan 12th A very cold week, Some parents kept their children at home on very cold days, complaining that the main room is insufficiently heated. This certainly is so.

Feb 9th A week of snow & ice. Temperature in main room at 9am Mon 31, Tues 32, Wed 31, Thur 30, Fri 30. Some children are kept at home.

Feb 27th 59 children have joined the War Savings Association.

Mar 16th 13 children absent all the week 10 ill and 2 at farm work.

Mar 30th 9 boys and 9 girls worked in the garden on Friday afternoon. They dug and planted about 5 poles with potatoes. The managers not having provided any potatoes or tools, I have obtained some seed potatoes and the children brought their own tools.

May 8th Finished planting our plots of garden with potatoes on Friday afternoon, Area of garden = 20 poles. Quantity of seed potatoes = 3 bushels.

May 25th Yesterday being Empire Day we had a half day holiday.

In the morning the Head Master gave a lecture to all the children on the Empire and their duties in connection there with specially dwelling on the great deed for economy. The children of both departments afterwards assembled on the play grounds and sang three patriotic songs:- Then saluted the flag and finished with God Save the King. A collection on behalf of the Over-Seas Club realized 19/8.

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Bovingdon History Group

Bovingdon History Group has continued to meet throughout the winter. Our speakers have proved to be popular, attracting 30 to 40 members to each of our meetings. We are grateful to Bovingdon Baptist Church for making us welcome and for the excellent facilities they provide.

Our lectures are usually held on the third Thursday of every month, at 8pm. Exceptions are July and August, when we usually have walks and visits. The meetings are open to members who pay an annual subscription of £12 and also to non-members who pay £2 per meeting. The meetings are advertised in the library and locally.