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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Nick Burton
1950 - 2006

Nick Burton with Sheila Sim (Lady A), Jack Cardiff,
Dickie Attenborough and Lucy Attenborough

Nick Burton died on Tuesday July 25th, 2006.

Nick Burton was the head of the department of media at Canterbury Christ Church University. He was one of the good guys and will be sorely missed.

It was Nick who, when they decided to name all the buildings at CCC, insisted that the building housing the media centre must be called The Powell Building. They tried to get him to choose a name beginning with some other letter of the alphabet to fit in with their naming scheme. But Nick was insistent that there could only be one possible name for a building to do with the teaching of anything related to cinema, in Canterbury. So The Powell Building it became.

There was a big opening ceremony back in October 1999. Thelma & Sheila did the official opening and there were lots of other interesting people there. As well as Nick, that's when I first met Columba. Thelma gave a very good illustrated lecture showing how P&P films were absorbed by and influenced Marty. That's also when Paul Tritton told us all that he'd contacted John Sweet and he played an audio greeting from John.

Nick also instigated the Powell Research Centre which has managed to interview quite a few of the people involved in making the films. It's a useful exercise for students, sending them out (with a bit of supervision) to interview someone. As well as that Nick inspired quite a few of the lecturers at CCC to make P&P (or just P) the subject of their research. We saw the results of some of this at the Michael Powell Centenary Conference at Bangor where 4 papers were presented by people from CCC.

There was also the wonderful Michael Powell Festival in 2004 where as well as screening a lot of the films, they also set up an exhibition in a gallery in Canterbury. A glorious 8 days in October 2004

I remember how, just before that Festival, Nick came on our ACT walk and we persuaded (bullied) him and Ian Christie into taking the parts of Colpeper & Bob Johnson in a re-creation of the discussion about the merits of cinema - in Fordwich Town Hall. For a pair of high powered academics they put on a good performance.

Ah, so many happy memories. Thanks Nick


Paul Tritton adds
Nick's funeral and interment took place at his parish church, St Mildred's, Preston-by-Wingham, on August 3. There was standing room only in the church - so many of his friends, students, colleagues and family were there to pay their respects and remember with great affection this truly remarkable man.
In what sadly proved to be the last few years of his life, Nick had moved from Canterbury to an old farmhouse only a few yards from the church. He was surely drawn to Preston because it is in the heart of "Michael Powell" countryside, in the valley of the Little Stour river and just a few miles from 'Bedpost Island' and many other places that Michael described in his autobiography and chose as locations for A Canterbury Tale.

Geoff Doe reports:
Last week I attended Nick Burton's funeral which was held in the beautiful old church at Preston, just a couple of miles from Wingham - which provides many of the scenes of "Chillingbourne" in ACT. He was buried in the church yard which has lovely views of the Kent countryside.

There were many references in the funeral service to Nick's work with - and devotion to - the films of PnP. Just a couple of weeks ago, he had been delighted to hear that his documentary on ACT - which has already successfully appeared on the Criterion edition of the film - had also been accepted for inclusion on a French DVD which is being produced. As he wrily observed when told of this "everything seems to be going very well - except that I am in this Hospice!" A good example of the humour and courage with which he faced his last days.

The Chuch was filled to standing room only for the service and PnPers were well represented. As well as all Nick's colleagues from the Media Department of Canterbury Christ Church University, these included John Clark, who appeared as a young boy in "the forge" scene in ACT - and still lives in Shottenden, and Paul Tritton who was pleased that the new enhanced second edition of his book on the film was at last now out.

We all agreed that Nick's loss was already being felt in that - for the first time for many years - there was no Powell film in this year's Canterbury Festival. He has however left such a strong legacy in Canterbury we had no doubt that there would be plenty of people to take forward the cause in the future.


Other P&P obituaries