The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Myrtle Paton - A Tribute

Myrtle Paton: March 23, 1915 - June 19, 2006

"We arranged to shoot there on a certain date and it happened to coincide with a week that Bill was on leave from the Navy, so he came down to spend it with us. It also happened to be the week that Neville's daughter Myrtle was home on leave from her duties as a matron in a hospital. A spark was struck from the smithy. The link was forged. Myrtle was tall and slender, quick and intelligent. One glance at Bill's clear steady gaze, his mighty torso, was enough for Myrtle, and Bill evidently felt the same about her, because six months later they were married at Chilham."

Michael Powell, A Life in Movies

When Michael Powell's first part of his autobiography was published, a flurry of interest prompted strangers to call at Bill and Myrtle's cottage at Shottenden. Some of them were people seeking locations for A Canterbury Tale: others were seeking scandal and revelation. Bill and Myrtle developed quite an antenna for this, having lived there quietly since moving from London in 1970 to Myrtle's family home. Those seeking scandal were disappointed: loyalty and discretion always won the day. Others, like myself who had been location hunting for ACT for many years since its first TV screening, were luckier - I lived locally and in September 1992 I met her and Bill for the first time and we became friends who met many times. Bill had suffered a slight stroke in 1992 and was becoming less mobile; but he was still everything Michael had described him as - a quiet but powerful Scotsman with bright blue eyes and silver hair, still shrewd and observant, with the very soft way of speaking Shetlanders have. He did not say much about his Archers years; I was, as were others, a relative stranger and this quiet reserved man kept him memories to himself.

Among the visitors to Rose Cottage by then was Paul Tritton. Sadly Bill did not live long enough to see the growing interest in ACT. Canterbury Christ Church University College held a Michael Powell Festival in November 1996, and after Bill's death in September 1997 things really moved forward with Paul's walks (the first was memorable for two things - it was 31st August 1997!) and then there were annual events at Canterbury Christ Church University College and screenings of ACT to which she was always invited, with myself as driver for her, a most exciting time for a confirmed film buff. We also had a mutual interest in local history, and the following years were ones I treasure. Perhaps the culmination of the interest and affection for ACT was when John Sweet sat in her cottage drinking tea, and visited the location scenes up the lane.

Although she loved her cottage in the remote countryside, life did not get any easier, and Myrtle was given an opportunity in her late eighties to go and live with her nephew and his family near the Peak District. We both moved the same week in November 2002, I to Gloucestershire, she to Derbyshire - to began a new life. It was typical of her bravery and sense of adventure that she should move hundreds of miles away from her home. In 2005 she celebrated her 90th birthday, and now she is back with Bill in Chilham churchyard.

It was a pleasure to know this intelligent and interesting woman, whose life was dramatically changed by her marriage and involvement with the Powell family and the film world, but who gave so much else in her long career as a nurse and friend to many, right up to the end.

Margaret Stocker
August 2006

Myrtle's funeral took place at St Mary's Church, Chilham, on June 29. the church where she and Bill were married in May 1945.

Other P&P obituaries