Great Nottinghamshire History Fair

On Sunday 10th May 11am – 3pm Past Lives Project will be at Mansfield Library at the Great Nottinghamshire History Fair! We’ll be sharing our project, we’ll have projectors and cameras to show, photos and films we’ve collected during the project.

In the small cinema at the library we’ll be showing Past Lives Bolsover, Nottingham, Mansfield and Ironbridge films. And you’ll even be able to buy DVD’s from our stall, drop by and say hello. We hope to see you there!

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A full house for the screening of Past Lives Nottingham


It was satisfying to be able to share the finished Past Lives Nottingham film with such a full audience





After several very long days getting the final picture edits and scoring right, we arrive at Lakeside Arts for the get-in and final rehearsal…


Trevor our sound engineer was remarkably fresh for a man just that day returned from a US tour with King Crimson…


A moment to attempt to assemble the score in the right order…

Time to see if it all actually plays as we expect it to…



Deidre (Cello) and Kelly (Violin) meet the score for the first time.


Composer / performers Cameron & Eleanor splitting the piano part into four hands on sight… no mean feat.

Audience in,  lights out, and the screening begins

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The credits rolled to the rousing sound of a march  – MEN OF TRENT  – by Eric Coates written specifically for the Nottingham Police Band in the mid 1950s and specially recorded by them for this showing under their musical director Gary Glover… a great finale…    

After much justified applause, there was a curtain call for our composers Katie Powdrill, Matt Arwhen-Langham, Cameron Wedgewoth and Eleanor Beestin; and then a very special guest…

Mike Riley spotted a picture of himself as a little boy in one of the film images that was published at the beginning of the project; he contacted Lakeside and has since done some great interviews about it on T.V. and in the papers. Mike is a mine of information about Nottingham and and particularly about the Railways – a joy to chat with. He agreed to come along and say hello.


Mike takes the stage


left to right Debbie Cooper, Mike Riley, Composer Matt Arwhen-Langham, Chris Ellis (seated) ; Composers Eleanor Beestin and Cameron Wedgeworth.

The Nottingham Historical film Unit – a lost archive rediscovered ?


The names of Richard Iliffe and Wilfred Baguley are familiar to many as co-authors of some of the best books of photographs of Nottingham’s past. More than one person who has come in to our Past Lives open days has mentioned ‘Dick’ Iliffe’s books and one woman recalled winning her copy of Victorian Nottingham on a phone-in to Dennis McCarthy’s The Sunday Show on Radio Nottingham.

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The sub-title on the cover of these books – A Nottingham Historical film Unit Publication – gave me momentary pause for thought: film Unit ..? Well perhaps they were referring loosely to the fact that the stills camera also used celluloid films…

Then some connections brought to light another possibility…

A chance remark by someone else at one of our open days about a film society that had bequeathed it’s collection to a Nottingham college sent me looking around. The British Universities Film Council web site lists such an archive as having been given to New College Nottingham some years ago. I contacted them and we went to meet their videographer, Adrian Todd.

It turned out that Adrian had been preserving the remnant of a collection of 16mm films – with no immediate resources to look at them in detail. Thanks to Adrian, they have not diappeared completely; he showed us the cans but we needed a safe way of looking at the content that would not risk damaging the ageing films. Ideally we needed a hand-wound viewer like a Moviescop that would not overstress the ageing films and whose low-intensity bulb runs no risk of burning the celluloid if the film stops moving through the viewer.

Noviescop Off to Tony Trafford of The Production   Outfit, who kindly lent us his Moviescop and winders – pieces of film history in themselves that hadn’t seen action for a good while.

After 2 hours of improvising, dismantling and cleaning of the optics  – (Adrian actually managed to find thmoviescop2e original manual online !)  – Images began to flicker across the Moviescop for thefirst time in maybe 25 years


A Bowler hatted man feeding the pigeons in Slab square…  a flooded…Nottingham main street in the 1930s…a motorcycle rally…NCN viewing

A society wedding at Wilford…Nottingham Forest’s FA cup victory parade through the town in 1959…

Some of the material has clearly been ordered from national archives like the British Film Institute by someone prepared to trawl through catalogues and pull out anything relating to Nottingham. There are also some more general histories of silent film featuring greats like Chaplin, Buster Keaton & W.C. Fields; but the rest was shot locally and sets out to document changes in Nottingham from the 1960s onwards – such as the old streets of the St Ann’s Well Road area before demolition.

The more I saw, the more I wondered who was behind this collection. Most of the footage had no titles but some time into the viewing session, a film came up with a brief heading: ‘C.R. Iliffe – Editor’ and then another title flashed up: ‘A Nottingham Historical Film Unit production’. It seemed that I was looking at a portion of the film archive of Richard Iliffe and Wilfred Baguley.

But were these films copies or originals: was the archive already preserved elsewhere?

Part of that question remains to be answered: the B.U.F.C. website refers to an origina gift of 100 cans of film plus an extensive collection of transparencies – presumably those featured in the series of books that Iliffe and Baguley published. I saw only 40 cans of film – did the rest find a home elsewhere or are they lost?

As to whether these films are copies or originals, Tony Trafford’s wide experience of film editing was again invaluable; he took a closer look at the various types of 16mm film stock used in the locally shot footage of the 1970s and pointed out that much of it is Kodak reversal stock; the nature of this film stock and the style of editing imply that these productions were put together directly from the camera rolls, meaning that these particular films are one-offs… unique artefacts created by Iliffe & Baguley.

I looked into more cans…

Hot air balloons at Wollaton Park in the 1970s; the demolition of the Midland Station; a portrait of Radio Nottingham in the 1970s; ‘the last of the trams’ – footage of the tracks being taken up; a documentary film about the newly-opened Nottingham Playhouse in early ’65 showing John Neville in rehearsal for Richard the Second – this one shot by students of the College of Art & Design…

Many of the films are silent, but a handful are credited as being narrated by Dennis McCarthy

To go though the archive in detail and to identify and conserve all the unique footage it contains would take some time, but it would surely be worthwhile;

and considered as a whole, the collection has a historical significance- being originally curated by two of Nottingham best loved historians…

Iliffe or Baguley

Nottingham, Cine film Viewing 13th September, Free Event

Saturday 13th September 2-5pm , Past Lives Project will be viewing and sharing cine film of Nottingham.

Bring cine film and home movies you have along, we can view 8mm film on the day and give you advice about storage and digitisation of your film (all types).

Do you have cine film of Nottingham to share? Bring it along! We’re looking for any film of the region, it could be weddings, family events, street fairs… etc, we’re looking for any home movies that show Nottingham at work, rest and play.


Nottingham all events cinefilm call out


You can also help us on the day:

We’ll be showing some local cine film footage, maybe you can help us by sharing your local knowledge about the film footage we have?

Or you could volunteer to help us gather local information.

get in touch with us via:



Volunteering & Heritage Day, Nottingham

Saturday 9th August, 1-4pm

On Saturday we’ll be at Lakeside with local archives to scan photos and cine film of Nottingham. We’re also calling out for project volunteers; we need help sharing the message and scanning and cataloguing old cine film and photos of Nottingham.

We’ve invited local archives to come along to talk about preservation of photos and film, so if you love old photos, film, oral history and local heritage. Come down to Lakeside Arts Centre next Saturday, 9th August 1-4pm!

See you there, tell your friends.. It’s FREE!

Past Lives Nottingham volunteer day

Great Nottinghamshire Local History Fair

Recently we held a stall at the ‘Great Nottinghamshire Local History Fair’, we had a great day out and it was a wonderful opportunity to meet history groups from Mansfield and Nottingham, particularly as we’ll be bringing Past Lives Project to both of those regions in the next year.

We had a fantastic meeting with a chap who showed us a photo of his grandfather from Bolsover, we couldn’t believe it when we saw the picture, as we had used the photograph at the Past Lives Exhibition and listed the picture (below) as ‘Unknown Gentleman Carr Vale’, as part of the Past Lives Bolsover Project we partnered with Picture The Past to share some of their archive photos lacking information, in an aim to add provenance to the photos. (Link to Picture the Past original)


So it was fantastic when we learned some more information about the Unknown Gentleman…

The photo was most likely taken at the Station Hotel at Cresswell, and the gentleman’s name is Lewis Shinfield. He worked as a shaft sinker in Cresswell Pit and referred to himself as a ‘German’ and that his original family name was Schoenfeld. The second photo is of Lewis Shinfield’s wife in the middle and his sister and daughter. Photo was taken in 1898 and Lewis died in 1912.

One of the many great things of Past Lives Project are these personal stories that come along with the photos and film, and it’s wonderful to be able to add more provenance to archives.

We’ve forwarded the information to Picture The Past and they will be able to update their archive shortly.

Timeless Moments

This week we visited Timeless Moments, a husband and wife team in Ilkeston where they run a very efficient film digitising service. We met Ian Litchfield who will be digitising donated film for us throughout the Past Lives Project.


Ian Litchfield of Timeless Moments looking at Past Lives film

Timeless Moments, in Ilkeston were recommended to us by MACE; due to other project commitments MACE do not have the capacity to digitise  all of the footage amount of footage we expect to receive through the Past Lives Project. We will be digitising donated footage before we pass it on to MACE, by doing so the Past Lives Project is also helping MACE’s aims to make archive film footage accessible to the public and preserve it for future generations.

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Timeless Moments are very excited to be a part of the Past Lives Project and will be helping us share the message about the project. They have very generously offered a 10% reduction on copying charges on footage supplied through the Past Lives Project, this helps the project funds go much further to digitise more footage, and we can also pass on a discount to any participants who want footage digitised that is outside of the Past Lives Project.