Last week a wonderful, wonderful friend took me along on a tour of the Sands Films studio and warehouse in Rotherhithe. What, you mean you’ve never heard of it? Actually, nor had I, but it’s in a fabulously traditional part of London – indeed, in an historic warehouse – and just over the river from some of Sam’s haunts (almost opposite the location of Wapping Old Stairs) and so I didn’t need asking twice. Well, what a place. It’s like no working premises I have ever seen before, with a rabbit warren of rooms on several floors, from sewing rooms to storerooms (both stuffed with costumes made and maintained over the past forty years), from laundries to canteens, and even a tiny theatre and a tinier cinema. If you ever get the chance, do go; they regularly show films, and they have a fantastic costume library and a café, so it’s meant to be seen and used.
Of course, I was salivating to see outfits from the 1820s – not the fancy stuff, but the sort of clothes that Sam and Martha might have worn. And I saw this wonderful rail for Martha – wouldn’t she just have loved that flowery print?
There were no constables’ uniforms on show, but I did spot a selection of coats that looked possible for our hero, until I saw how they were labelled:
I’m not sure Sam would take at all kindly to being dressed as “seedy and rough”! Apart from human costumes, the Sands seamstresses and craftspeople also make other pieces for films, including all the animal heads for their own 1971 film of “Tales of Beatrix Potter”. And I couldn’t resist trying the mouse…