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Ponsonby Press
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The Press takes its name from two streets in London, Ponsonby Place and Ponsonby Terrace, near Chelsea College of Art and Design (located in Pimlico since 2005). The properties on these streets are partly whitewashed, many having front doors painted an identical ultramarine blue. The ethos of the Press is also insipred by the Ealing Comedy, Passport to Pimlico (dir. Henry Cornelius, 1949), which is set in this area of the city.

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A sweltering summer in bomb-damaged Pimlico, London 1948. Local shopkeeper, Arthur Pemberton, reflects on his plans to regenerate the area with a swimming pool and playground for local children. These plans have recently been rejected by the council.

After an unexploded bomb goes off when some small boys are making mischief in an area of wasteland near Pemberton's shop, Arthur and his daughter, Connie, discover an underground cache of medieval treasure revealed by the blast. It transpires that this once belonged to the Duke of Burgundy and buried with the treasure is a deed signed by the then King of England stating that this area of the country is formally part of the Duchy of Burgundy.

So begins an adventure in politics and community action as the residents declare their neighbourhood an independent state, no longer subject to post-war rationing, and in direct challenge to the authority of the British government.

Although notionally set in Pimlico, much of the film was actually shot across the River Thames in Vauxhall and Lambeth. The area that is declared independent in the film is centred around the fictional Miramont Place where the residents' committee is based.


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Passport to Pimlico


Production: Ealing Studios; black and white, 35mm; running time: 84 minutes. Released April 1949.

Producer: Michael Balcon; associate producer: E. V. H. Emmett; screenplay: T. E. B. Clarke; photographer: Lionel Banes; art direction: Roy Oxley; music: Georges Auric; editor: Michael Truman.

Cast includes: Stanley Holloway (Arthur Pemberton); Betty Warren (Connie Pemberton); Barbara Murray (Shirley Pemberton); Philip Stainton, (Police Constable Ted Spiller); Paul Dupuis (Duke of Burgundy); Margaret Rutherford (Professor Hatton-Jones); Raymond Huntley (Mr Wix); Hermione Baddeley (Edie Randall); Basil Radford (Gregg); Charles Hawtrey (Bert Fitch).