Alpha Grove Reunion – 10th Anniversary

Aside from my day job, one of my hobbies is making films.  There is a whole page on this blog dedicated to some of those, whether with students, for the Learning Technologies Special Interest Group or just for pleasure.  It’s just a selection of some of things I’ve created.  One of those films is ‘Alpha Grove Reunion’, based on an event which incredibly took place ten years ago next month.  I recently remade the DVD cover especially for this anniversary, although the content is pretty much the same, and given it to some people who were at the event.  This includes Karen O’Sullivan, whose sister Tina got in contact with me recently via Facebook.  I was at Seven Mills Primary school, on the Isle of Dogs, with Karen, Tina (Miller) and their younger sister, Kerry.

Alpha Grove Reunion - 10th Anniversary Version cover

The story goes like this:

Back in April 2009, inbetween completing my CELTA and working for Bell Educational Trust in Cambridge, I returned to my childhood home on the Isle of Dogs, in London, with my mum, dad and brother, Pete.  The reason for our trip was a reunion of members of a youth club that my mum and dad set up and ran for 5 years in the late 1970s – early 1980s, before we moved to North Norfolk in 1982.  My dad bought this old Methodist church building for £8250 and they called it the Alpha Grove community centre on the run down, working-class Barkatine estate.  The old church building had been totally redeveloped and was undergoing some more building work when we visited. The whole island dramatically changed, of course, in the 1980s with (primer Minister) Margaret Thatcher’s Docklands development programme, which included Canary Wharf, a.k.a. 1 Canada Square.  It is now virtually unrecognisable from the desolate waste ground I grew up and played in as a kid.  I used to break into this area from our back garden, confronted by security guards protecting this empty and desolate space.

The Alpha Grove website

Tony Scott ITV News at Ten 2018-01-15_14-46-48
Tony Scott at the ITV NEWS at TEN studio

I made a fly-on-the-wall documentary film and a DVD of the trip back to London.  The film is interspersed with original, low quality footage found on an old VHS cassette, filmed by Tony Scott, in 1983.  He was a frequent visitor to the Alpha Grove youth club and filming was Tony’s hobby.  In fact, this was the first thing he ever filmed.  He later got hired by ITN news, in 1985, and was a sound recordist for many years.  In 1998 he became one of their main camera 🎥 operators. He has now worked with ITN for 34 years.  There is a day in the life of a cameraman film recorded last June about what he does and all the technology he uses. He is seen talking about his job whilst covering last year’s Grenfell Tower inquest for ITV news.  He can be a bit of name dropper, even more then me!  I couldn’t give you a list of all the famous people he has met in his long time working for ITN, but it has included Prime Ministers, filming The Queen’s Christmas broadcast and international missions like Charles and Camilla’s trip to Nepal and covering three UEFA Champions League finals – including 2012 when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich. He won a Royal Television Society award for his coverage from Beirut.  Not surprisingly he has lots of stories to tell and is currently writing an autobiography, although he admits his English isn’t great and might need a ‘ghostwriter’..

On Sun 14 Jan 2018, Tony unexpectedly popped into our home in North Norfolk. It was the first time either my Dad or myself had seen him for 30-odd years – the last time he came to our house was for a party back in the eighties.  Here is Tony Scott below, posing for a photo with that original DVD, and being reunited with his own Alpha Grove footage, which had been misplaced. Tony, for once, being on the other side of the camera!  To date, Tony has not got back in touch regarding his autobiography.

Dad, Tony and me

The full reunion film (with music intact) can be seen below.  Click on full screen to get the full viewing experience.

Note: The film was uploaded 14 months ago but has only just been seen by Karen, Tina and others more recently.  The film uses copyrighted music, mostly by the Sting / The Police.  UMG owns the rights to The Police’s recorded music and have labelled it as such on the video but has, so far, allowed the music to be included.  I sang ‘Message in A Bottle’ during the Reunion Karaoke but, thankfully, this wasn’t recorded. The Alpha Grove had a jukebox and my father would regularly purchase the latest 7″ singles with the holes cut out. When it was time to replace some, my brother and I used to share the dividends, helping me to build up my vinyl record collection. I still have the two of the three Police 7″ singles used in the main film.

I did a basic screen capture from the the DVD as, for some unknown reason, converting the video to a format for YouTube didn’t work.  Tony’s original footage was put together in this compilation:


Note: This article was originally published on 3 February 2018.


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