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Peter Boulton's Boulton-Hawker Films Ltd. is notable for its films on
science subjects. Well written, beautifully photographed, and intellectually stimulating, the
Boultons' films represent some of the finest examples in the sub-genre of
academic science films.As produced as a family-run enterprise, each film
typically would be produced and written by son David, and exactingly photography by his father, Peter, using slow-motion, time-lapse micro
photography. Additional members of the multi-dimensional (cinematography, sound,
and editing) crew included son-in-law Nigel Rea, and Rosemary Cizmowska, and
graphic artist (and daughter) Anne Rea.
Boulton-Hawker has made more than 100 films, the most popular of which specialized in Biology, Botany, Geography, and Insect life, and Natural History:
Arts, Crafts, and Industry
Natural History and Zoology
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(written by Peter's family)
His parents had met when his father, originally from Diss, was appointed Station master at Hadleigh in 1908. Ellen, a teacher, was the eldest daughter of William Cooper Emeney, who ran the Kingís Head in Hadleigh.
They lived in Church Street before moving in 1916 to Clacton-on-Sea when Sidney Boulton was appointed Station master.
In 1922, the family moved to Ilford when Peterís father was promoted to Assistant Station Master at Liverpool Street station. At Ilford Grammar School, Peter began to develop his life-long interest in photography and after leaving school, he started work at James A Sinclair & Sons, a film camera company in Whitehall.
When war broke out, Peter enlisted in the RAF as a photographer and in 1941 he was posted to Cairo to work in the Command Photographic Section. In addition to his general photographic work, he became in effect a one-man film unit for the RAF Medical Branch, travelling widely throughout eastern Africa shooting films about anti-locust and malaria projects. It was while doing this valuable work that he unfortunately caught amoebic dysentery that was to cause him considerable ill-health in his later life.
In 1939, Peterís parents returned to Hadleigh to retire and, after demobilization, Peter joined them. He then set up a film and photography business with Gilbert Hawker, a RAF colleague from his section in Cairo, and so in 1946 Boulton-Hawker Films was formed.
In 1947, Peter met Marie, who came from Kent but also had Hadleigh connections, having been evacuated here during the war. Marieís brother remembers Peter keenly driving down to Bexley in an assortment of old sports cars most weekends to have tea with Marie and her family. In 1949, Peter and Marie married in this church, when of course a brief film was made of their wedding.
For several years, Peterís new company had to undertake bread-and-butter commercial photography and sponsored films to pay the bills, but his real interest was in making educational films. Using material he had shot in Africa, he produced a number of geography teaching films and started to sell copies around the world.
In 1956 Peter and Gilbert amicably agreed to go their separate ways, and Peter concentrated on making and distributing the educational films he produced. As the company became more successful and more demanding, he was able to call on the intuitive advice and encouragement of his wife and fellow-director Marie.
Peter became particularly well known in the natural history world for his stunning filming of animals and plants using specially designed time-lapse equipment. He was proud to have won countless awards for his films both here and abroad, including twice gaining the coveted Film Award of the Year from the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
Various creatures would arrive at Boulton-Hawker Films to be filmed. On one memorable occasion Peterís secretary Rona unwittingly opened an innocuous looking brown box, only to release a small army of stick insects which swarmed round the office.
Today, 57 years later, Boulton-Hawker Films continues to be a successful and thriving company, now run by his son David.
Throughout his life, Peter played an active part in the community. He was a Hadleigh Town Councillor for many years and became particularly involved in the Councilís local history committee Ė he was passionately committed to preserving the townís heritage. He was Chairman of Hadleigh Town Council in the 1960ís and worked for several years as a local magistrate. In 1973 [?], he became a churchwarden of this church. Throughout his life he was an active member of many local organisations, including the Hadleigh Amateur Dramatic Society, the Masonic Lodge, and Grand Feoffment Trust.
Those who knew him will remember Peterís great love of books; he was well- read on a wide range of topics. However, in his younger days Peter was also an outdoor man, fond of walking and sailing, with a great sense of adventure. When his children were young, he would take them to launch his rowing boat at Toppesfield Bridge in Hadleigh. They would navigate the river as far as Stone Street, an energetic feat, which often required the boat being carried when the river was low. Once the family was pursued by a group of pigs at Stone Street who thought the dinghy was their trough!
He will be remembered as a talented and dedicated film-maker; a kind man, a good listener with a great sense of humour. He was a devoted husband to Marie, a caring father to Anne and David and doting grandfather to Clare.