Fiona Bruce narrates award-winning director’s Belsize Story
After years of research, countless hours of editing and a close shave with a moped mugger, an award-winning film-maker is set to bring Belsize to the silver screen.
David Percy has pored over more than 1,000 still images of Belsize Park, which dates back to Tudor times, as part of a three-year project to chronicle the transformation of the area.
The landscape has changed from a once-great estate with extensive grounds to a mish-mash of architectural developments.
The Belsize Story – narrated by BBC presenter Fiona Bruce – will premiere at the recently renovated St Stephen’s Church in Pond Street, Hampstead, on March 27.
Mr Percy, 70, joked that the film “almost killed me” after years of research and being thrown into the path of oncoming traffic as thieves on a motorbike made off with his camera in Lyndhurst Gardens.
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The semi-retired film-maker was interviewing a prominent local resident in 2010 when a motorcyclist and his passenger attacked him.
“I was knocked into the road and they took my camera – tripod and all. It was very heavy and they rode off with the tripod fully extended,” said Mr Percy who has been making films since the age of 12.
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“It’s a real labour of love and, if you like, it’s my gift to Belsize. I thought I should give something back and make this movie.
“My intention was to create this visual record which brings together all of the research which has been done in the past.
“These days people tend to watch television more than reading books and this tells the story of Belsize in an enjoyable and relaxing way.
“Fiona has also done a brilliant job. She has such a great voice and her pronunciation is perfect.
“She brings life, a sense of humour and a bit of light-heartedness to the film.”
Mr Percy grew up in Belsize Grove and attended St Christopher’s School in Belsize Lane as a child.
His house in Belsize Avenue, a former private carriageway to the estate, is marked by a distinctive slouching mulberry tree which is thought to be a boundary line for Belsize House – once home to 19th century Prime Minister Spencer Perceval.
Mr Percy’s two-hour film, which will be followed by a second documentary next year, documents the changes to central Belsize when the great-great-great grandfather of Terry Tidey, landlord of The Washington, developed the area in the 1860s.
Belsize now features architecture ranging from red brick and terracotta, houses of the Arts and Craft movement to grand Italianate paired villas.
“Volume one is an architectural tour, but also includes famous past residents and interviews with today’s local residents,” said Mr Percy.
Belsize Residents Association will host the screening with Admiral Property Partnership. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.45pm start. A trailer for the film is at www.belsizestory.com