Speaker for 13th October 2015

Photo: President John Graham greets Emma Thorpe, with 2nd Vice President Mike Turner (L) and Club Member Des Moore (R) ___________
Talk (and picture show) by Emma Thorpe revealing 'The History of Moving Pictures'

Probus Club members were transported back in time when Emma Thorpe came from Northern Irelands' Digital Film Archive to talk about (and show) her work as the Archive Development Officer.

The archive had been set-up as part of a Millennium Project fund to preserve rare movie footage, in digital format. The (current) full content of the archive can be seen in special 'kiosks' (locally in 'Fallowfield', the University Campus and Ballymoney Library), and a large proportion of it is also available on the Internet (see: www.digitalfilmarchive.net). It is restricted due to copyright reasons.

The archive contains footage from as early as 1896, when Brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, the inventors of the moving picture (1894) first visited Belfast. Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon founded the firm of 'Mitchell & Kenyon' in 1897. The pair visited Belfast in 1901, and club members were given a showing of their 'Tram Ride' film - remarkably preserved after being found in an old milk churn in Lancashire in 1994 - and what a busy, clean, and prosperous town it looked!


A fundraising film for The Royal Victoria Hospital, from 1938 (pre NHS days) showed the 'state of the art' hospital (treating 400 people a day in A&E, wonderful new X-Ray machines) and ended with a plea from the Head Governor for more nurses and more money because of the long waiting lists - how different from today!


Local films followed in abundance with a 1935 look at Coleraine ('Click' on photo of Coleraine) and around the Giant's Causeway; the Queen visiting Coleraine and Castlerock in 1953 and a toe curling tourist board holiday promotion from 1960 (alas, currently not publicly available). Local film makers were also on display, foremost being Archie Reid (a teacher by profession), who put together a large number of 'fun' films with the help of friends and (we assume) school holidays. A wonderfully funny / satirical treat was show from 1967 called 'Sodom and Begorrah' - See list below the report for links to these gems.


As time was pressing, the end to the 'talk' had to be called, and far to early for many members. Des Moore proposed a vote of thanks, saying that he (and the members) hoped that Emma could consider a return visit and show more of her digital treasures in the not too distant future. Members (and readers) were strongly recommended to take a look at the Archive web site for further viewing ('Click' the DFA logo).

1953 The Queen visits Coleraine and the North Coast

1967 - 'Sodom and Begorrah'

And for even more archive footage, check out the British Film Institute, which also has a Northern Ireland section ('Click' the BFI logo)