The Trumptonshire Trilogy   Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley

On this page - Fire and water were in short supply in Trumptonshire .... as the firemen found out.
But they were both shown.Although it's very much a watery roll call here,as fire only made one very fleeting appearance.
Episode 6 - "Captain Snort"

During the "fishing in the sun" segment at the bottom of Carraway's garden, ripples on the stream are shown when they cast their lines into it. [left]
Circles that radiate out from a central point appear several times throughout the scene.Clearly visible as raised white lines placed on top of the blue surface,and probably done with some kind of string.
Very crudely done,but still quite time-consuming to do.And it does look a little less odd in real time -and even less odd than having no movement whatsoever.

The stream also appears in episode 9.But there was no need for a ripple-replay as it was a much shorter scene with less water in view.
What was the big deal about showing water in Trumptonshire  ?

Simply that it's very tricky representing water [and fire] using frame-by-frame stop
motion animation.
And all perfectly logical if you sit down and think about it.
Even a calm mill pond has ripples and reflections,whilst running water takes it to a
whole different level of complexity.
And as the Trumptonshire animators had neither the time nor the budget to tackle
such technical issues properly,it was simply avoided altogether .... wherever possible.

Why bother at all   ?

Well,this was supposed to be a real world with real people.
And even pre-school kids would've noticed a complete absence of water at some stage -if only on a subliminal level.

Fortunately for the animators,even small glimpses of things can give an overall impression of normality.
Meaning that you don't need to show it raining to plant the idea in the subconscious that the climate's normal.Because green foliage can do that perfectly adequately.
And a quick glimpse of a flowing tap is as good as a long panning shot of a raging river.

So whilst it wasn't exactly their "get out of jail card",it certainly made things easier.
And,as with any production on a budget,it was just a case of being pragmatic and working out how many corners you could cut before the cracks started to appear.

Did it look any good when it was shown   ?

It actually worked quite well -if only because the glimpses were indeed very brief and disappeared before your brain had time to question it.
Obviously they look pretty basic when frozen in the still photos below.But in real time they're surprisingly effective.
Although the Trumptonshire high water mark of the Chigley fountain scene does show why they were best used sparingly !

How did they do it   ?

Good question,and I don't know.But it looks like they used clear cellophane,or something very similar,for the flowing water and splash scenes.And,in view of the budget,it probably wasn't anything much more technical than that to be honest.

Was the lack of water ever really an issue  ?

Well,the main problem was that the firemen never had a fire to put out of course.And that was as much to do with the difficulties animating fire as it was water.
But the writers confronted the issue head-on by deliberately turning it into a running gag,so it really didn't seem that strange.
And whilst the production team probably saw it as damage-limitation at the time,the firemen's subsequent notoriety has actually become a huge positive for the series.

Next - All the appearances of water in Camberwick
Next - All the appearances of water in Trumpton.

Episode 10 - "Cuthbert's Morning Off"

Fireman Cuthbert falls in the duck pond in Trumpton park.
F..F...F....F.....Fire  !

Trumpton Ep.7 - "The Rag and Bone Man"

Because it's arguably even more of a problem to stop-animators than water,the only sight of it in all 3 series came in this episode

Mr.Craddock,the park keeper,ignites a flame to light a bonfire.
But it's only shown for a couple of seconds before being put out The bonfire remains unlit and that's that.

And all cruelly played out under the noses of the firemen !
Episode 8 - "Roger Varley"

Mickey Murphy runs a tap in his bakery.And the shot lasts for a good 6 seconds,which is an eternity in stop animation terms,and rather odd because of it.
But it looks pretty realistic actually,even when scrutinised frame-by-frame rather than just watching normally.Although that's largely because it's on a very small scale.

And that's it for Camberwick regarding water sightings.Not a drop more !
And if anyone vaguely remembers that Windy had "a duck pond" you'd be right,but it was only ever mentioned in passing and never actually shown. But a pond in Trumpton Park was shown ..
During the preamble,when he's feeding the ducks,the water's completely still and they simply skate around on the surface without any ripple effects.
The "falling in" sequence is pretty straightforward too.
Captain Flack shouts "Cuthbert !".Cuthbert looks round quickly, becomes unbalanced and falls in.
It would've been far too complicated to show him actually falling into the water of course.So we cut straight to a shot of water splashing up {cellophane ?} followed by just his head sitting on top of the blue surface,with not so much as a ripple.
When he's next shown,he's out of the pond,and whilst the Mayor mentions his "wet clothes" he looks exactly the same as he did before he fell in,and drip-free.
For lovers of minutiae you can clearly see the join between his neck and the "water" if you look closely at the footage.
And if you do like that sort of stuff,then check out the oddballs page,if you haven't already.
Episode 11 - "The Plumber"

In the Mayor's Parlour in Trumpton Town Hall,a leaking header tank in the attic drips down from the ceiling.And the Mayor and Mr Troop both get one drop each.

But the only water we actually see is on the back of the Mayor's hand as he wipes it from his nose -the white-ish mark in the photo.
There's no physical evidence of the drop that lands on Troop.
No shot of the ceiling.
And no water left in the tank when we go up to have a look at that either.
Just one drop of water shown in the whole of an episode called "the plumber".
Only in Trumptonshire !
Next - All the appearances of water in Chigley

In many ways Chigley is always viewed as the poor relation of the 3 series of course
But compared to its 2 predecessors it's positively awash with water.
Although you can forget any thoughts of a Chigley synchronised swimming team !
And I think it was merely the culmination of a learning process from the first 2 series to a certain degree.Finding a balance between the end result and how long it took to do.
Episode 4 - "The Fountain"

A new fountain is built in the forecourt of Cresswell's Biscuit factory and switched on at the end of the episode.

Once again,the same cellophane-type material was used.
Only this time there was simply more of it and it was shown for longer.

The most ambitious attempt at tackling moving water in all 3 series.
And probably a step too far actually.Because even to the eyes of a 1960's pre-schooler it looked decidedly dodgy.
Although,to be fair,it wasn't the animators who wrote an episode called "The Fountain" ! 
Episode 1 - "Lord Belborough's Secret"  and  Episode 9 - "Clay for Mr.Farthing"

Harry Farthing uses "plenty of water" when giving a pottery demonstration to Doctor Mopp [ep.1] and the Trumpton telephone repair men [ep.9]
"Plenty of water" presumably giving rise to a few wry smiles when it was written.

Again,it looks like the same the clear cellophane used for the Trumpton splash scene in the duck pond.
Probably a crumpled sheet attached to the underside of his hand.Or,at least that's what it looks like when he brings his hand up from the reservoir at the bottom of the wheel and up over the pot.
But it's undeniably effective in real time,however they did it.
Episode 7 - "Lord Belborough's Lucky Day"

The canal is shown about 8 mins in.

To convey the idea of moving water they kept one half static and turned the bit under the boat into a moving conveyor
ie. the boat is static on the surface,with the join highlighted in the pic.

Very effective.
Even if canal water should be still of course !
There's a much longer canal scene at the start of Episode 13 - "A Present for Lord Belborough"

But there are fewer shots of the actual water and it's completely still.Although that was probably just the usual time-saving expediency.

Episode 10 - "Trouble with the Crane"

One of the Camberwick Pippin Fort "soldier boys",Private Armitage,dives into the canal to hook up a crate that accidentally fell in [we're told he's "the best swimmer"]

His entry point is cleverly masked by the front of the barge,and there's a small cellophane splash,just visible in pic 3.
He's shown in the water from another angle too,but not doing anything.And,as with all its predecessors,it's very much mission accomplished -minimum effort for maximum return,or at least enough that no-one would think twice about it.
Who'd have thought it. Fishing in Trumptonshire !
And just to finish off this elemental look at Trumptonshire ....

Which was the nearest they ever got to a real fire of course.And a lot more about them on the Pugh,Pugh page.

So,there you have it.

I hope that's dispelled a few myths,and highlighted a few interesting things that may well have passed you by as a child.

But if you come away thinking that Stop Motion animation maybe wasn't the way to go then please reconsider.
Because it really was a major part of the series' charm and fascination.And,even if we did notice any of the quirkiness mentioned above,how many of us actually cared or thought of it as a negative ?
" Funny looking doughnut "