Lost in the Danube
1966 A Cold War Journey before the waters rose at the Iron Gate

Afterthoughts will be published in 2014
Adventure beckons
September Tide, the era, the people and the politics that made the adventure
The Old Believers
The Lipovan of the Delta settled there from Russia in the xx century.
The Iron Gate
Here the river narrows and the current was flowing at 23 kph or 11 knots. A giant dam was being built
The Fortress Island
Ada Kaleh lay about 7.5 kms above the dam site and was destined to vanish beneath the rising water
Old Orsova
This small riverside Romanian town with a history dating back over 1500 years was also to go under water
Trajan's road
Roman armies marched along a road cut into the cliffs of a spectacular gorge. That road is now below the water
Our Danube Collection
A small selection of black and white prints - our pictures of times past and lost
The Iron Gate 1 dam was finished in 1971/72. Here is what happened to the towns, people and the river
2013 Tony Morrison writes… ' Dusting off these stories would never have happened had it not been for the enthusiasm of a Canadian artist, Jo Scott-B. We have kept in touch for almost fifty years from times when her mother Norah owned a rustic pension known fondly as Termite Towers by young travellers visiting Lima, Peru. I stayed there many times. The first was with the University of Bristol Trans- Continental Expedition team in 1961 and later when it became the base for many Nonesuch productions with Mark Howell or my wife Marion.

At the end of 2012 Jo mailed saying she was off to the Danube to sketch in the historic cities of Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna. Jo's interest and polished itinerary prompted me to look back to the Danube of darker days when much of its course was behind the Iron Curtain.

In 1966 when I was asked to film a journey up the Danube the words of Winston Churchill the British wartime leader rang truer than ever.Churchill was not the first to talk of an Iron Curtain but he used the title to describe how Europe was divided ideologically.

'From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic' Churchill said ' an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent' .

The Iron Curtain

Relations between the superpowers were not just cold: they were icy and there was not much common ground between East and West. The Iron Curtain symbolised the Soviet[Russian] domination of a great part of Europe. Travel was tightly controlled, secret police and informers lurked everywhere and two of the great, historic cities Jo Scott- B was planning to visit freely were open only to state arranged tourism.

At the time I was making travel and adventure films for the BBC and bit by bit, or you could say by 'mission creep' I was drawn into an unforgettable adventure. Looking back I can see it was one that will never be repeated.

John Marriner

Brian Branston, the BBC commissioning editor 'phoned. Brian was a softspoken Yorkshireman and writer with a passion for history. On offer was 'Destination Danube' with John Marriner, a formidable sailor and his motor yacht September Tide. If successful it would be a 'first up the river ' since the Second World War.

Almost fifty years have passed and I can recall only the drift of the call. 'Filming in Eastern Europe is never certain even if you get promises of support but if you go with Marriner he knows the way so you may get a film - take care and let's see the rushes. And…. 'shoot in colour. We start the colour service next year'.

To help you visualise the time scale I'll add that the small screen in millions of family homes across Europe was still showing black and white.'

Roll your cursor over the map to see the picture in 1966 - the red or shades of red were socialist or communist controlled - Austria was neutral




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