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Huntley Archives News

1 December 2008

Limited Means
By Robert Dewar

Topicality brings us to straitened times, the causes of economic hardship, and poverty leading to worsening health. Now that location, location, location has been replaced by recession, recession, recession, we can assume the commissioners will want to examine where it all went wrong.

Perhaps they should start with a century of economic problems and international trade issues. Film 11052 dates from the 1900’s and shows how plucky free trade Britain has to deal with tariff-locked Russia and Germany, and how our friend America suffers when we impose tariffs. Is the solution free trade or fair trade?

Poverty can be highlighted in relation to children and health. In film 8383 from the 1930’s we learn there are 490,000 schoolchildren in the London County Council area. About 6,000 of these children can't be fed properly at home, because of their parents' poverty. The LCC makes sure these children have at least one good meal every school day. Will the proportion rise, and who will feed these children now?

Make-do-and-mend, as in film 7795, has become a lost skill. A fashion show at - delightfully - Harrods showing women how to convert their father's old suit into a smart suit for themselves, and women's clothes made from scraps were then, and will be again, the height of fashion.

The avoidance of waste and saving energy are very topical, but the 1970’s saw films illustrating the ‘do you think I’m made of money?’ theme. Film 7498 shows us we can car-share on the way to work and switch lights off when leaving a room.

Film 14459 illustrates who will be the biggest losers in a world recession. In 1970’s vox pops interviews when asked whether he would be prepared to make sacrifices to help poorer nations, a man in a bowler hat avoids the question. An Australian man says that Australia's main responsibility is to Australia. An American woman asks why she should help them when they're not helping themselves. A Japanese woman says that she has been so busy with her own life that she's never felt that way to other people. An American woman says she needs to help her dogs. And an English man talks about needing to look after ourselves. No doubt the concept of ‘charity begins at home’ and the ‘deserving poor’ will re-emerge over the coming months, and perhaps our commissioners will take this on board…..

By Fiona Kelly

2009 marks the 800th anniversary of the founding of the University of Cambridge. A quick search on our database revealed a surprising amount of film on the city and university. A colour film from the 1960s (Film 3240) has classic scenes of the colleges, students punting on the River Cam, students drinking champagne and dancing at a May Ball and croquet being played on a college lawn. It also shows scientists at work in the Cavendish Laboratory, where the atom was split in 1932, and students performing Shakespeare in the open air. Cambridge also features in some of our amateur collections: Film 6322 from 1935 shows a cricket match and rowing practice on the river. Another amateur film from 1930 (Film 34137) features May Week celebrations, Kings College Chapel and a college porter wearing a suit and bowtie. Our earliest Oxford versus Cambridge boat race film (Film 7594) is from 1911 and there are others from later decades.

One of the more interesting Cambridge films is Film 9834, made during World War II. It is a very detailed look at life in the university, following students in lectures, laboratories, cycling through the town, playing sport, rehearsing plays, dining, reading by the river and sitting in each other’s rooms chatting. Sir Lawrence Bragg, Cavendish Professor of Physics who won the Nobel Prize with his father in 1915 is seen lecturing students, as is the historian G M Trevelyan. Students are seen on ARP (Air Raid Precautions) duty and also training for the armed forces. In another scene two female students at one of the two women-only college toast muffins on an open fire. There are also evocative shots of Cambridge market and local people going about their business.

A source of knowledge!
By Caroline Jenkins

As Television looks more and more at the values in Society today, we increasingly re-examine the past. Amateur film and home movies over decades are indeed an invaluable record of everyday life over the years and provide us with a source of information. Film 4418 shows a family gathering in the 1930’s when children were indeed happy playing on a see-saw consisting of a plank pivoting on a block of wood. At Huntley Film Archives we hold a treasured collection, spanning decades of amazing real life footage, simple rural life and country pursuits including Film 15233 in which a group of friends holiday together on a farm in the 1930’s and Film 17230 from the same decade when foxhunting was an accepted pastime.

These films also form a unique history of our culture and are just as important within the family as old photos, diaries, great grandmother’s lace and grandfather’s gold pocket watch. It is unfortunate that many end up in the hands of the younger generation and end up with other items discarded in the regular house moves we make today. Like investigating your family tree, or passing on heirlooms to grandchildren, the family home movies must too be preserved and investigated by our elders and passed on for future generations. Unlike other films they provide intimate experiences of the person behind the camera – holidays, home life, family gatherings, interests and even sometimes just an opportune moment in history. We have new amateur films coming into the collection all the time and every new film I view I go back in time as if it were I, that family member or friend behind the camera.

From Philadelphia Freedom to Merseyside
By Fiona Kelly

It has been a busy few months for Huntleys with our footage having been used in a variety of productions. Some of our colour and black and white archive footage of Liverpool was used in the acclaimed Terence Davies feature film Time In Our City. From the sublime to the ridiculous, we were proud to see our clips of 20s New York, the Vietnam War and Soho strippers (amongst others) gracing the screen backdrop at Elton John’s Red Piano concert at the NIA in Birmingham, direct from its run in Las Vegas.

On television recently we contributed to the Channel 4 documentary on Jennie Churchill, Lady Randy: Churchill’s Mother and provided a clip of 1940s British black tap dancers for an advertisement for Müller yoghurts. We have also regularly supplied footage for The South Bank Show for subjects as diverse as Ronnie Corbett, the novelist Sarah Waters, Shakespeare’s The Tempest and James Bond.

Using the Archive
If you require more details of the films mentioned above, go to our on-line database and enter the film number. If you are looking for something in particular and can’t find what you require on our website then please contact us for help – we will research on your behalf at no charge.

When you have found something you would like you can either come into the Archive to view the selected films or we can provide a VHS/DVD viewing copy.

Once you have made your final choice of footage we will transfer the extracts to your favoured master tape format.
For any enquiries regarding rates please contact We are always willing to negotiate, particularly when larger amounts of footage are being used.

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