One Mile Square

Registered:   27th January 1964
Duration: 25 minutes
Feet: 2250 feet
Board of Trade Certificate number: ​BR/E29176
Distributed by:  United Artists
Production Company: ​ Harold Baim Film Productions Limited

More Film Stills: ​at baimfilms.com (opens in new window)
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This is a very different film about London: the City of London. The City still has its own Police force, and the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs and City Livery companies still perpetuate the traditions which are peculiar to the 'Square Mile'. 


Story told by: Valentine Dyall
Director of Eastmancolor Photography: Eric Owen
Assistants: ​Jack Bellamy, David Drinkwater
Produced by: Harold Baim


It's one mile square with its strange sounding street names, some of which indicate the trades that were carried on there. It's a square mile, the history of which is lost in antiquity. One square mile. It's the city of London within which is a strange pulsation and a sense of today and yesterday inextricably intertwined.

Each day from the main lines and subways, countless thousands stream in.

The city, the home of the Bank of England, designed in 1734. Reconstruction began in 1925 and it was completed in 1938 and covers nearly three acres. It's one of the greatest building events in the last hundred years.

They pour in from everywhere to work in the buildings of the new city, which has risen from the old. From the Greater London area and beyond, the daily influx takes place. It could be said that if London continued to expand at the same rate as New York during the last 30 years, London would be pushed into the sea.

The offices of every national and international banking house are here.

Here is Lloyds of London, one of the greatest insurance houses in the world.

And at the stock exchange, dealings in the shares of world commodities are the order of the day.

It's hardly believable that Billingsgate Fish Market, the oldest in London, dates from the ninth century. The fish, of course, is not so old. The existing building was erected almost 90 years ago.

They sing “London Bridge is falling down” and judging by the people and traffic that moves over it, maybe the song could well come true.

And after the fish course, what else but meat? The market at Smithfield was designed by the man who originated Billingsgate. He must have been a very food conscious individual.

The city is a metropolis within a metropolis and a separate entity with a tradition of its own. If ever the phrase the old and the new standing side by side meant anything, surely it must be more true of the City of London than anywhere else in the world.

Rather sadly, the old is being slowly obliterated by the new buildings and wide thoroughfares, which every month become more evident.

We still have Aldgate Street, Throgmorton Street, Chancery Lane, Ludgate Circus crowned by Saint Paul's. Fleet Street, home of newspapers and journalists, where work goes on all night so that you and I may read the world news over our breakfast tables.

Cornhill, where the roadway collapsed in 1927. Bishopsgate was once called Bishopsgate within and Bishopsgate without, the city walls divided it into two.

Traffic problems in the city are serious indeed. But in 1831, it was much worse. And that's true. I wonder if they'll think the same in 2031.

That's the ticket. We have one way of dealing with the problem today, unpalatable though it is. They poured in, now at lunchtime, they pour out for the midday editions.

Those who don't want the written word can, on Tower Hill, have the spoken one instead.

Drinks and lunch can be taken at inns whose names are world famous and where the famous of hundreds of years gone by were able to do the same thing.

On a summer's day in the gardens of Saint Paul's, lunch time can be sandwiches and a guards band to entertain.

There is always another side to any big city.

The uniforms of the city police differ considerably from that of the rest of the London police. The Metropolitan Police, apart from helmet and buttons, wear a blue armlet.

Those of the city where an armlet which is red with other distinctive features of helmet and uniform. Police cadets are given point duty instruction.

Watching points on point duty in the city with its intricate intersections is a man sized job needing patience, calmness and extreme concentration.

The women police in the square mile are the acme of smartness. They need a great deal of tact for their job is extremely specialized. Apart from that, they make excellent partners at police force dances.

Whilst watching a typical piece of police coordination, let me tell you something of their remarkable history. They go back to the time of the Norman conquest and probably to the sixth century, when the responsibility for keeping the King's peace was the duty of the local inhabitants.

In 1285, watch had to be kept in all cities and towns, two constables being chosen for every hundred inhabitants.

The centuries passed and various other laws and statutes were made. In 1829, Sir Robert Peel tried, without success, to integrate the city police with the Metropolitan Police, and since that time other efforts have been made to amalgamate the two, but all have been unsuccessful. Today, still a single entity, the City of London Police has its own commissioner and is divided into headquarters and three divisions with a strength of almost a thousand. Each man handpicked and keen on the career he has chosen for himself.

Our suspect may well go to the Old Bailey. Built at a cost of a quarter of £1 million, the building is 195ft high, and within is the Central Criminal Court.

He may well need help from the Temple, where the most famous of England's Queen's Counsel have their chambers, and where Dr. Johnson had his rooms, and where was born Charles Lamb.

Temple Church dates from 1185, and the whole of the area is one of surprises that only London can reveal in the midst of the turmoil of a city.

Not far away is the Law Society, a title which speaks for itself.

Which came first, The Bank of China or the London Stone? No one knows where the stone came from, but we do know it has definitely existed since the time of the Saxons. Mitres marked the place where the bishop's gate once stood. Hence: Bishopsgate.

A pump marks the site of Old Gate, or Aldgate. There was Ludgate and many others in the walls of medieval London.

Churches still bear their ancient names, which mark them as being within or without the walls of the city. When the gates were closed at night, latecomers camped outside the walls close to the churches, which were within range of the arrows of the bowmen, stationed on the walls for guard and protection.

A monument commemorates the Great Fire of London. The city has lived through conquest, plague and pestilence. Then again in 1941.

Pointing an accusing finger at the sky stands the gaunt tower of a church in Roman Watling Street and so disappeared many, many treasures of the past. And a new city was born. A city which would have made the peasants of feudal times rub their eyes at this strange transformation.

Bombs took their final toll of some of the city's most famous buildings, which were part of Britain's ancient heritage. But even as they build the new semi skyscrapers, the old is jealously guarded and carefully preserved for future generations.

Tower Bridge still spans the River Thames, as it has done for close upon 70 years. This famous landmark is 880ft long, and the main towers are 120ft high.

Not far from Tower Bridge, at the south side of Trinity Square, is the colonnaded memorial erected in memory of merchant seamen and sailors who fell in the two world wars.

And a macabre plaque to show what happened here years ago.

Near to the Tower Bridge is the Royal Mint, home of the manufacture of British coinage.

Many of the inns of the city have been spared to us. At Gray's Inn is a statue to Francis Bacon, who wrote …or did he(?) Staple Inn of Holburn is a retreat which one would never dream existed right in the middle of one of London's main east to west arteries.

Carthusian monks founded Charterhouse in 1371, and it was named after their monastery. The famous public school started here in 1611. They moved out in 1872 and Merchant Taylors School moved in. They, too, have now gone, leaving Charterhouse with its memories.

The clocks of the city are many and magnificent. The clock at Saint Mary's at Hill, a squirrel decorates this timepiece.

Many of the windows are unique. The windows of Prince Henry's room have been here for 350 years. The clocks constantly push away the yesterdays whilst we try to recapture them.

The first royal exchange was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was destroyed again by fire 172 years later. In 1844, Queen Victoria opened the third building. A statue of the Duke of Wellington stands before it.

Second only to the tower in historical interest is the Guild Hall, home of the yearly Lord Mayor's Banquet. Its handsome roof was destroyed in the last war, but the rest of the building survived.

Just as the city is renowned for its inns, so it is for its halls, each one named after a particular trade, the members of which met there. This is the Fishmongers Hall; the Bakers Hall; the Grocers Hall. All these have their origins hundreds of years ago.

The gateway to the Leather Sellers Hall; The Mercers Hall. The Premier Guild of the city existed as a fraternity in the early 12th century. The hall is sometimes used for wedding receptions of prominent personages. Its interior is magnificent.

Hall of the Goldsmiths. Newly rebuilt, the Girdlers Hall is dwarfed by the buildings of the new city.

The coat of arms over the Armourers Hall, and the College of Arms.

Hidden not far away is Postman's Park, another surprise corner that one is apt to come upon quite suddenly.

Remains of the Roman Temple of Mithras were discovered during building operations.

And we are thankful that some of the Wren churches are still standing; Sir Christopher Wren, Saint Mary Le Bow; Saint Lawrence Jewry, rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire.

Sir Richard Whittington's place of worship, another Wren church, Saint Michael's.

All Hallows.

In one great raid, no less than eight Wren churches were destroyed or damaged. Those that suffered damage were restored to their former glory. Such is men's respect for the years gone by.

Saint Bride's with its wedding cake spire.

Erected in 1420, Saint Ethelburga's is one of the smallest in London.

Ringed by hundreds of incendiary bomb, everything around Saint Paul's Cathedral was burned to the ground. A miracle saved it.

The original masonry is being brought to light soon to reveal its spectacular magnificence.

Part of Holborn marks the city boundary. Today a mixture of ancient and modern, Holborn has undergone a complete transformation in the last 50 years.

The Mansion House may one day be sacrificed in the name of progress, for it is included in the plans for rebuilding the city. Many years ago, people said it should never have been built.

The climax of our film must be the Tower of London. Oldest and most renowned fortress in England. Once a royal palace, a prison, and now the repository of the crown jewels, the tower would seem to be the only link with our history, which may remain.

A strange coincidence, indeed. Once there was a street called Old Change. Today there is one named New Change. Could it be that in the next century not a trace will be left of the old? Are the relics of the past to be lost to us forever? Will that wonderful square mile cease to exist or be swallowed by the largest city in the world?

[End - Credits]

Time Code Original Track Title Composer Publisher
10:00:10 - 10:03:20 Automation H de Groot de Wolfe Ltd
10:03:20 - 10:04:07 Travellers Gay Derek Laren de Wolfe Ltd
10:04:07 - 10:06:09 Travellers Gay Derek Laren de Wolfe Ltd
10:06:10 - 10:07:20 Downtown Stroll E Ward de Wolfe Ltd
10:07:21 - 10:08:26 Heroic Moment H Granville de Wolfe Ltd
10:08:27 - 10:10:04 A Matter Of Urgency I.Slaney de Wolfe Ltd  
10:10:05 - 10:10:55 Round table Conference R.Field de Wolfe Ltd
10:10:56 - 10:12:03 Round table Conference R.Field de Wolfe Ltd
10:12:34 - 10:13:30 Stately March J.Steffaro de Wolfe Ltd
10:13:31 - 10:16:50 Royal Standard I.Slaney de Wolfe Ltd

All music should be cleared with 

De Wolfe Music 
Queen’s House 
180-182 Tottenham Court Road