SIX years after protesters began dismantling Camp Bling, a documentary showing a behind the scenes look at the site has been released.

The film follows the four-year campaign to stop Southend Council from going ahead with plans to widen Priory Crescent.

Protesters lived next to the busy road in a ramshackle camp of treetop homes and makeshift shelters as they formed a human shield against developers.

Filmmaker James Piper was at the camp when the council backed down in 2009 and he has now told the story behind the site.

James, 26, who grew up in Great Wakering, was a university student in Coventry at the time. As part of a film project, he joined the camp for four days.

James, who now lives in Camberwell, South London, said: “I wasn’t aware at the time of how big a deal Camp Bling was. I just thought it was quite cool how everyone was there.

“When they found out they had been successful, people were over the moon.”

The protesters first set up the camp in 2005, after the discovery of a Saxon king’s burial ground on the site.

Seventeen makeshift wooden huts and tree houses made up Camp Bling, whose name took its inspiration from the Sun newspaper, which dubbed the tomb’s occupant the King of Bling, because gold crosses were found during the archaeological dig.

James’s 22-minute documentary tells the stories of the people behind one of the UK’s only successful protest sites, as they came to the end of their occupation.

He said: “At the time they just accepted me with open arms.

Some people said the media shouldn’t give it air time, but I was there for my uni project. It turned into an insight into the people behind Camp Bling.”

The campaigners used recycled material and solar and wind energy.

The site even had its own cat called Ginger.

Mr Piper said: “Lots of people had heard about it but hardly anybody ventured into it. I spent four days there sleeping and living with the campmates.

“The thing with protest sites and camps is the people are normally evicted, or the bailiffs called in, but with Camp Bling, they made a real difference.”

The camp was spearheaded by Shaun Qureshi, who stressed he wanted to minimise any damage to the site.

In the documentary, Mr Qureshi says: “I’ve always lived in Southend. I used to campaign for Greenpeace and we got wind the council wanted to build this road so we started a group up. We’ve been trying to stop it for years and ended up living here.”

Sheena Walker, from campaign group Skipp (Saxon King In Priory Park), fondly recalls her time at the camp.

She said: “It was an idealistic place and I was there on the first night and the last. At first it was very difficult, but as time went on they improved the living accommodation.

“It was really tough to start, with abuse from passers-by, but at the same time there were so many waves of support, too.

“It was an amazing place and I was there to celebrate at the end.

On the last night you wouldn’t have known anything had happened on that ground – there wasn’t a single square inch of rubbish.

“It was a hell of a lot of work, but I have fond memories.”