Derby Grande Finale

This Saturday 13th June, Past Lives Derby will be unveiled! We’ll be showing cine film footage that we have gathered from Derby residents at QUAD accompanied by a live music soundtrack featuring players from Sinfonia Viva,  young musicians from Derby and South East Derbyshire Music Centres and the Past Lives ensemble.

We’ve digitised Derby footage from 1930s – 1970s, see a preview of one of cine reels below. Much of this footage has never been seen outside of the families who have donated the footage, all of these cine film home movies when brought together show a unique view of everyday life in Derby.

Elephants from Billy Smarts Circus leave Derby Railway Station on Midland Road and travel through the streets towards Bass recreation ground in 1957. Filmed and donated to the Derby Past Lives Project by David Larkin.

Tickets for the performance are selling fast, you can book yours via QUAD’s box office on 01332 290 606

or follow the link below

Do you know this Derby film?

We’ve received some amazing footage donated for the Derby Past Lives film by Jim Walters who tells us that this film was originally shot by Bernard Wood (deceased), and Jim and Bernard were both members of Derby Cine Club.


Demolition of St Alkmund's Church, Derby 1968

Demolition of St Alkmund’s Church, Derby 1968

The Spot, Derby 1965

The Spot, Derby 1965

Morledge Market, Derby 1965

Morledge Market, Derby 1965

Market Place, Derby 1965

Market Place, Derby 1965

These stills were not taken not from the original film but from a recording of the film being projected on to a wall and re-filmed, this is a common technique where people project their original cine film onto a blank wall and record with another camera usually a VHS or digital camera, the trouble with technique is that the VHS or digital copy loses a lot of the quality of the original and film and like in this case the original is often lost. But we are incredibly glad that Jim recorded this from the original and that we are able to glimpse Derby’s past, and we hope with help of the Derby public we might be able to trace the original film.
We have tried to trace the film, but we’ve not had any luck so far tracing relatives of Bernard, or other people who may know of the original. If you do know anything about this story you can get in touch with Past Lives Film editor Anthony Hatton on 07890211524 or via
The film made from these donated cine films will be shown at QUAD on 13th June 2pm, tickets are already selling fast. Film includes live music created for the silent home movies, by international musicians, Sinfonia Viva Orchestra strings, and local Derby musicians. Tickets available from QUAD website or you can call the box office on 01332 290606
And we’re still digitising Derby films until 15th May so look in your attic, under your bed, in the back of your cupboards, if you have cine film shot in Derby, could be anything from weddings, christenings, parties, street views, even your front room! Whatever it is as long as it’s shot in Derby we want to see it and maybe able to digitise it for you! Get in touch.

Training Day at MACE

The Past Lives Project team recently went on an archive film training day at the Media Archive for Central England, Richard Shenton (opening the shelves so quickly he’s blurred), head of access and learning at MACE took us on a very cold tour of the film stored in temperature controlled conditions. One of the reasons our project has received funding from HLF & ACE is due to the rapid deterioration rate of film footage and the urgent need to do something about this; If film footage is stored in cupboards, lofts, under beds; places where temperature and more importantly humidity fluctuates the footage will be rapidly deteriorating and needs digitising and preserving straight away before the footage becomes so damaged that it will be unable to be saved or viewed.


Row upon row of archive shelves, which first must be unwound to allow us to walk between


Dave Sturt & Anthony Hatton with Richard Shenton of MACE


Richard gives us an idea of how the 8mm film may look when it is donated to the project


Often donated footage comes in boxes with lots of other ephemera (bits and bobs)

Donated footage often comes in boxes with other bits of ephemera, things we might expect to also find with the footage will be notes, audio reels, photos etc. These items are not in MACE’s remit as they deal with footage alone, but for the Past Lives Project other ephemera will be perfect!


More shelves of film and ephemera to explore!


Projector and film reels


Titles on film reels that entice curiosity, many of these films are awaiting digitisation due to cutbacks in public funding


Black Magic… No.20, not at first what it seems – these films were donated by the Coal Board


‘Know your film’ a handy guide to help us identify the types of donated film and get an idea of when the film (not the footage) was produced


Moviscop – a fabulous device from Germany that allows film viewing without damaging the film

Our training day with MACE has left us feeling ready to start taking footage from the public, but we’re glad that MACE are only a phone call (or quick trip to Lincoln away) and will be supporting us with their vast knowledge throughout the project over the next 2 years. MACE staff will also be attending some of the Past Lives Project open days so look out for MACE at those, our first open day will be 30th Nov 2013, 10am -2pm Bolsover Parish Rooms (more dates to follow shortly)

Please check out MACE’s regularly updated blog:

Past Lives Project

Capturing moving images is now commonplace with mobile phones and pocket cameras but before the digital age it wasn’t so easy. Small format movie cameras were the liberating technology of the mid 20th century giving ordinary people the chance to capture everyday events on their 8mm and 16mm cameras.

Cipher (Theo Travis and Dave Sturt)  collaborated with visual artist Anthony Hatton to produce a thought-provoking and engaging visual and live musical experience using previously unseen archive footage from the Media Archive for Central England, including local images of the Midlands from the 1930s to the 1970s and with music composed by Cipher.

The new live soundtrack features Travis on sax, flute and keys and Sturt on fretless and upright bass and sound design and combines acoustic and electric instruments with digital looping technology and computer sound processing. The musicians in Cipher have previously collaborated with Gong, Robert Fripp, Bill Nelson and David Sylvian. The score also features acclaimed string players – Deirdre Benscik (cello) and Clare Bhabra (violin) both from the Midlands based orchestra Sinfonia Viva. This will be the first time Cipher have augmented their sound with strings.

The Past Lives project toured the Midlands in 2012, and depending on funding will be touring the Midlands in 2014 & 15 as a participatory and community local history, music and film project. There will be a series of film & music workshops in each locality to enable participants to digitise and edit antique footage to create new films and learn about editing film and writing and performing music with film. Look out for project open days and reminiscence cafes across the Midlands in 2014 & 2015.