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Pool of Life, The (1974-76)

Courtesy of Angus Tilston

Main image of Pool of Life, The (1974-76)
9.55mm, 13 min, colour, silent
DirectorAngus Tilston
Produced bySwan Cine Club

A day in the life of Williamson Square in central Liverpool.

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Angus Tilston is an amateur filmmaker, collector and producer who has been an active member of the Wirral-based Swan Cine Club for over 50 years. Named after Swan Hill, the area in Birkenhead where Tilston was living at the time, the Swan Cine Club was established in 1954. Its first production was the comedy Every Dog has his Day, shot on 9.5mm, a format Tilston has continued to use throughout his many years of amateur film production.

Swan, like many of the other local film clubs (including the Heswall Cine Club, Double Run in Wallasey, Curzon Productions, the Liver Cine Group and clubs based in nearby Chester and Deeside), produced a range of different genres, including comedies, fictional dramas, 'mood films', travelogues and family films. It is, however, the local amateur films, shot in and around everyday urban landscapes - shopping, leisure, industry, transport and mobility - that are of particular interest.

The Pool of Life centres on the social and cultural geographies of Williamson Square, documenting the different activities of the people who are inhabiting and 'producing' this space at a particular point in its history. Made during a number of visits to Liverpool over a two-year period, Tilston's film captures the mundane and prosaic geographies of everyday life in the square: a space that is brought alive by those who make up its diverse and vibrant social fabric. These include musicians, street hawkers and vendors, pedestrians, shoppers, office workers, a homeless man foraging in a bin, pensioners watching the world go by on a bench, people watching a puppet show, children playing, a street cleaner, an environmental campaigner and a Pan-African activist.

Imbued with a strong sense of place, amateur films such as The Pool of Life provide a valuable insight into the different ways people use and engage with everyday urban landscapes. Williamson Square is located within an area of Liverpool which since the 1960s has been subject to considerable transformation. Tilston, along with other amateur filmmakers such as Jim Gonzalez and Jim Pyte (both of whom shoot footage of the nearby Queen Square market prior to its demolition in the 1960s), memorialises these changing (or in some cases vanishing) urban spaces, prompting critical reflection on the way the city centre has developed - for better or worse - over time.

Les Roberts

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (13:49)
Boat for Businessmen (1961)
Day in Liverpool, A (1929)
Electrical Exhibition (c. 1930s)
Liverpool: Days in the Life