Incredible archive film unearthed by the British Film Institute (BFI) is being shown at railway stations across the country over the next couple of months.
Passengers and station visitors will be able to see historical film and TV footage – some dating back to the early 1900s – as part of the BFI’s Britain on Film project, which reveals the forgotten stories of the nation’s people and places.
Region-specific films are being shown on purpose-built stands at a number of Britain’s busiest and biggest stations, including Paddington, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds.
The footage is drawn from the BFI National Archive, as well as national and regional film and TV archives across the UK, and reveals vanished landscapes, urban and rural communities, traditions, folklore and people at work and at play.
The films take a diverse look at 20th-century life and feature some of the world’s earliest known surviving home movies, including rare footage of the celebrated playwright George Bernard Shaw at home in Hertfordshire. A mixture of newsreels, advertisements, home movies, TV shows, and films by government departments, all offer surprising insights.
Highlights include a wonderful short film capturing Victorian Glasgow’s Jamaica Street (1901); Here is the News (1968), a celebration of the centenary of the Manchester Evening News; and Bristol, British City (1951), a moving post-war celebration of Bristol’s heritage and culture. The exhibition will also feature films of some of the most beautiful railway journeys in Britain. John Schlesinger’s Terminus (1961) is an evocative, historic portrait of Waterloo station.
The screenings are among a wide-ranging programme of events and activities celebrating arts and culture that are revitalising some of the country’s biggest stations as destinations in their own right. Last month, photographs by renowned English rock photographer Denis O’Regan were exhibited at Manchester Piccadilly station, showcasing well-loved and notorious music stars. The show Rock Through The Ages is touring stations across the country until February 2016.
”Stations have been bringing people and communities together for hundreds of years and today, more than ever, they are destinations in their own right. We want stations to be quality environments and welcoming places for passengers and other visitors and Britain on Film is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate British heritage, arts and culture.” Hamish Kiernan, Network Rail’s director of retail
”For 120 years, cameras have captured almost every aspect of life in the UK on film, but too often these have been inaccessible to all but the most determined researchers. We are transforming access to films from the UK’s archives and making them available, no matter where you live. We hope that these films will whet people’s appetites for more, and inspire them to log on to BFI Player while travelling, to check out historic films from their destination town or city.” Robin Baker, BFI head curator
The Britain on Film archive is also available digitally via BFI Player, giving people free access to a huge collection of film and TV titles about where they live and grew up.
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