Portrait of Penge

This colour film about the town of Penge is a visual treat for fans of the 1960s – featuring local personalities, housing, shopping, traffic and the Penge formation dancers.

Portrait of Penge Watch Video Here (link will open in new window)

This ambitious film about Penge, made by Gilbert Tomes and sponsored by the local Rotary Club, reflects the high degree of local pride in the town and its community. We get numerous vistas of Penge; from it’s shops and markets to its housing stock, including its remaining slums, as well as its many amenities like schools and the newly opened National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace. The Penge Formation Dancers also appear, in a flurry of bee-hives and sequins, at the Lyceum.

Gilbert Tomes, who made this film, was interested in film from an early age. He worked with the television pioneer, John Logie Baird, before becoming a cameraman at the BBC and later a businessman. His son, Richard, also a keen filmmaker, assisted Gilbert on a number of film projects including Portrait of Penge. As the film mentions, Penge, as an urban district of Kent, with its own council and distinct boundaries, disappeared in 1965 to be merged, along with neighbouring districts, into the London Borough of Bromley. The ballroom where the Penge Formation Dancers appear, was located at the Lyceum Theatre in London and many editions of the BBC TV programme Come Dancing were recorded there from 1950 onwards.