Press Release

11 September 2014

Three years ago Tim Jones, Senior Lecturer in Media, Art and Design at Canterbury Christ Church University, started a project to collect and preserve rare film footage made in the local area.

Tim has discovered many exciting films, however he may have found his most interesting feature yet: amateur drama footage of local millionaire playboy, Count Zborowski. The film includes the only known images of the Count’s mile-long narrow gauge steam railway built around his Higham Estate in Bridge. As this railway only existed for a few months before being ripped up after Count Zborowski’s death, it has long fascinated railway enthusiasts. No photographs or film were thought to still exist until Tim’s recent discovery.

A still from Tim's discovered film 'Count'
A still from Tim's discovered film 'Count'

Count Zborowski, who lived just outside of Canterbury in the 1920s, is best known for his exploits as an amateur racing driver. His specially built cars that incorporated First World War aeroplane engines were later to be the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s children’s book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Ian Fleming, also the mind behind the famous James Bond books, lived in Bekesbourne, near Canterbury, and was a neighbour to Higham Park. He became aware of the eccentric Count Zborowski who lived at Higham Park a many years before Fleming arrived, and the Count’s customised car named ‘Chitty Bang Bang’. Fleming used Chitty Bang Bang as inspiration for a children’s novel.

Tim said: “The discovery of these two reels named ‘Count Drama’ has been paramount to my project. When I viewed these films for the first time I had a shiver down my spine, especially when I saw shots of the railway track.

“It soon became apparent that this home-made drama had been shot at the Higham Estate in 1924 and starred Count Zborowski.”

A still from Tim's discovered film 'Count'
A still from Tim's discovered film 'Count'

Count Zborowski died in 1924 whilst driving for Mercedes in the Italian Grand Prix, just a few months after this ‘home-made’ drama had been produced and this year marks the 90th anniversary of his death.

To commemorate this anniversary, Tim is inviting the public to view this 30 minute unseen footage in its entirety at two special screenings, Saturday 25 October at 2pm and then repeated on Saturday 1 November at 2pm, in the Powell Lecture Theatre at Canterbury Christ Church University’s North Holmes Campus.

The tickets are £5 and must be booked in advance. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.canterbury.ac.uk/shop/archive-film-screenings or booked by contacting Julia Bennett on 01227 782955. The screening will also feature Tim's latest documentary, ‘Seeking Sydney,’ about the prolific local pre-war amateur filmmaker, Sydney Bligh.

You can watch a video of Tim talking about the film here or you can read more about Tim’s project and his previous discoveries here.

Notes to Editor

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 93% of our most recent UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2013 UCAS).
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2012/13 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey

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Last edited: 05/12/2017 04:31:00