Capturing a moment in time

PUBLISHED: 10:27 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 08:57 21 February 2013

from the archives

from the archives

Modernising 100 years of archive film has produced a collection of DVDs that reveal the intricacies of our county's past. Kayleigh Baugh discovers more

FROM royalty to the Peasant's Revolt, we all know that Essex has a fascinating past. But now a local group of historians are helping to share precious scenes from the annals of time with the rest of the county.

Forgotten footage filmed up to a century ago, has been stored and carefully protected by the East Anglian Film Archive (EAFA) since 1976, with the oldest piece of film almost 100 years old. In partnership with the knowledge and experience of Independent Studios, these moments in time have now been made available to the public on a series of DVDs.

Small teams of EAFA staff each have specialist jobs which require patience and skill to preserve very old reels of film.

Available to all
The archive is owned by the University of Essex and has been allowed limited public access as well as being used for research, and provides a valuable look into the lives of generations before us. Now, due to popular demand from the public, the archive has been made available to all.

The current careful preservation of this nostalgia is under the direction of Richard Taylor. 'The public don't often get to see the gems from decades past stored here, so we are delighted to be able to share our local history on film with the wider community,' explains Richard. 'These unique DVDs make a lovely gift for friends and family as the range of material includes something for everyone.'

As well as the long-term plan to transfer the archive contents to digital, the archive has other responsibilities including cataloguing and technical servicing of large amounts of films from the east region from Saffron Walden to the Essex coast.

Turning points
Many areas of the county are mentioned in the DVDs. Historical turning points that make up who we are today are narrated and presented in reflective journeys into the most poignant times. Southend Past: The Town our Parents Knew visits scenes of town life from the 1900s to the 1960s, going into stories of holidays by the sea, children playing and the beach as it once was.

With the expertise of the EAFA a variety of film, from amateur footage and advertising to industrial and regional television coverage, can be preserved for future generations. Treasured memories of the two world wars and haunting ghosts from the past have come back in ten titles about Essex, scripted and directed by the talented Andrew Gray, co-owner of Independent Studios.

Independent Studios were able to fund the making of the DVDs and bring to the project expertise in researching Essex history. Andrew adds: 'It is interesting to see how the county has changed over the years. In finding out what the public wanted to see, we came up with a good selection of Essex heritage, from the Victorian age to the radical changes
of the 1960s.

Andrew's favourite DVD of Essex, Essex Past Part 2, features a radical motorbike rally in Romford, reflecting the influential rock 'n' roll era of the swinging 60s. Some of the other feature titles in the range include The Home Front: East Anglia at War, Floods of East Anglia 1912-1953, Working the Land: Farm Life in East Anglia, Railways of East Anglia
and The Lost Railways of East Anglia.

Essex Past Part 1 takes you back to an altogether different time when many houses did not have electricity and women worked the fields. Essex has been renowned as an agricultural county and it is interesting to see how much the world wars have changed it. The first generation of children to be captured on film also lived through 30 years of
considerable social change.

These new DVDs will be a way of saving a wealth of memories from Essex. 'This is a chance to see what life was like down the years
and will remain for generations,' adds Richard with enthusiasm.


The collection of archive DVDs from the East Anglian Film Archive are available to purchase at £9.99 each from selected retailers across Essex.
They are also available to buy at

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