Archive preserves the story of the region’s heritage on film

Durham City's railway station, featured in All Change.
Durham City's railway station, featured in All Change.

A film archive of North East life over the years is proving a big hit with viewers.

The North East Film Archive has achieved a resounding response to its North East on Film project, passing the milestone of one million views of films in just six months.

Big Jack's Other World

Big Jack's Other World

Its collection features 20,000 items dating from the 1890s to the present day.

The films are a visually compelling record of our region’s moving image heritage – the people, places, traditions, cultures, industries and landscapes captured over decades by amateurs and professional alike.

This is represented in collections of newsreels, documentaries, home movies and regional television programmes, covering subjects including work and leisure, sport and entertainment, local traditions and community activities.

Within the millions of feet of film preserved by the North East Film Archive are thousands of individual stories.

On board the Sir Walter Raine in Places and Faces.

On board the Sir Walter Raine in Places and Faces.

North East on Film is revealing and reuniting the public with this important film heritage.

The project has provided an incredible opportunity for the people of the North East and beyond to share collective memories.

North East on Film delivery manager Julie Ballands said: “When we began this project in the summer, we had no idea that the public response would be so incredible.

“For over one million people to have watched this material in just a few months underlines the power of the films we preserve and how much the people of the North East want to see their communities and their history on screen.

“We have lots of events lined up and are making more films available online every month.

“Alongside that we are also receiving new submissions each day through our Search and Rescue campaign – long may it continue!”

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, North East on Film connects the people and communities of the North East with their regional film heritage.

The team at the Archive is uncovering new films to preserve and reveal, enabling people to see, enjoy and even contribute to the onscreen story of over 100 years of life in the North East of England.

To celebrate reaching one million views, it has released more films, newly-digitised, providing some eye-opening glimpses into the lives of our ancestors and communities.

They include Big Jack’s Other World, a Tyne Tees documentary from 1971 which sees World Cup hero Jack Charlton return home to spend time in Ashington with his family and friends, having a game of bingo at the working men’s club, putting on a few bets and enjoying the sounds of a colliery brass band.

In Places and Faces from 1954, bygone Sunderland takes centre stage in a beautiful example of amateur filmmaking.

The film also includes Billy Smart’s Circus, on parade through the town centre, attracting thousands of onlookers with its glamorous performers and exotic animals; its last trams; and the halfpenny ferry crossing the Wear loaded with workers.

Railway enthusiasts also get a real treat from County Durham with All Change, from 1965.

A rail fan from Bede College turns a wistful and poetic eye on Durham railway station in the 1960s as the golden era of steam travel comes to an end and the diesel age gathers pace on British railways.

The Archive has been adding more films to its website, releasing short clips via Facebook and delivering a series of sold-out screenings up and down the North East.

Upcoming screenings include:

l Tyneside on Film, Wednesday, January 23, 3pm and 6.10pm, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle. Tickets £9.75-£1 (various times/concessions), visit www.tynesidecinema.co.uk/film-and-events/view/tyneside-on-film or ring 0191 2275500.

l Durham on Film, Saturday, March 9, 2.30pm, Gala Theatre, Durham. Tickets £10/£8, www.galadurham.co.uk/galapost/durham-on-film, 0300 0266600.

l Hexham on Film, Tuesday, March 26, times TBC, Forum Cinema, Hexham. Tickets will be on sale soon.

The North East Film Archive, a registered charity, is based at Teesside University. Find out more at www.northeastfilmarchive.com