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Archive for September, 2007

Related documentation, such as scripts, personal papers, technical manuals and catalogues, are also included in the survey because of the invaluable context they can supply. The Institute of Education at the University of London has a collection of pamphlets (1926-1979) produced by the BBC, originally to accompany schools radio broadcasts from September 1926. When television series for schools started in the summer of 1958, booklets were also produced. The collection was deposited by the BBC on permanent loan with the Institute in 1990.

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The Projected Picture Trust cares for cinema projectors and other motion picture equipment. It aims to locate, rennovate, preserve and where possible exhibit motion picture equipment. It is located at the National Museum of Cinema Technology, Bletchley Park. The PPT was founded in 1978 at a time when many cinemas were closing down or being split into multi-screens, and a whole heritage of technology was in danger of being lost. It was registered as a charity in 1983. It now holds over 3,000 pieces of equipment, a number of which are loaned out on a semi-permanent basis to various organisations to enable the general public to see them and to save on storage space.

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Hidden memorabilia

Some collections of film and television memorabilia can be hidden within museums of a completely different character. Beyond the five miles of narrow-gauge steam railway and gardens that make up the Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens in Norfolk, lies an original collection of items relating to the popular television series Dad’s Army. Vehicles that were used in some of the programmes are also on display, including a traction engine, steam roller and this Leyland Fire Engine.

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Cinemas in museums

Among the kinds of objects listed in on our survey of moving image and screen-related artefacts in UK collections are cinemas. Are there any actual cinemas as exhibits in museums? We know of two. The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, Co. Down, recently acquired a 1920s cinema and moved it brick by brick from the town of Gilford to the museum’s site, where it has been restored to in its original form and opened as a cinema once more on 13 June 2007. And the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley has the Limelight Cinema, which likewise was moved brick by brick from its original location at Harts Hill, Brierley Hill, where it had stood since 1921. As the museum’s website tells us:

The auditorium could seat up to 103 people on wooden benches and on eighteen padded, tip up chairs.

The projection room was kitted out with a Dreadnought Bioscope and a 1912 Ernemann Bioscope. The light source for these vintage projectors was the old fashioned method of an electric arc light. The adjacent workshop houses the two gas engines used to generate the electricity required.

Running the cinema was a family affair Mr Revil, the owner, operated the projectors assisted by his nephew, Leslie Ball. Mrs Revil sold the tuppence ha’penny and fivepenny tickets from a small wooden pay booth and their daughter Violet played records on a wind up gramophone as the musical accompaniment to the silent films.

The nostalgia of the silent movies is relived every day at the Museum with a regularly changing programme and frequent showings. Settle down on a hard bench and indulge with Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy and Harold Lloyd among many other old favourites.

Are there any other examples out there?

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Cars of the Stars Museum

What happens to the mechanical stars of the film and television at the end of production? Some of them find a resting place in up in Keswick, Cumbria at the Cars of the Stars museum. The selection of vehicles include Herbie from The Love Bug, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Batmobiles and even the Lotus Super Seven from the cult television series The Prisoner.

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The Cinema Museum

The Cinema Museum is located in Lambeth, London, in a building which was once the workhouse to which Charlie Chaplin’s mother was sent. This YouTube video takes us on a fascinating tour around the Museum, conducted by its founder, Ronald Grant.

The museum houses a unique collection of cinema objects, artefacts and images documenting the history of film distribution and exhibition. It has images of cinema interiors and exteriors, cinema audiences and queues, as well as examples of cinema staff uniforms and lobby décor, projectors and film formats, publicity and memorabilia. It also has a comprehensive library of film cinema books and publications. The museum is not open to the general public.

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Projector

1939 Kalee No. 12 35mm projector (BUFVC)

The British Universities Film & Video Council (BUFVC) is a founder member of the UK Screen Heritage Network, and is one of the three organisations behind the survey of moving image artefacts. It is managing the collating of information and it will eventually host the screen heritage data as part of its Researcher’s Guide Online database. This is a directory of film, television, radio and related documentation collections in the UK, and the augmented resource will become a key national directory for the history and preservation of moving image and related media in the UK.

The BUFVC has its own collections of artefacts. Among its special collections are the papers of the British Movietone and British Pathe newsreels, the personal papers of several newsreel cameramen and editors, a complete set of press releases for Channel 4 1982-2002, and the papers of the Scientific Film Association. It also has a small collection of historic film and video equipment, and displays a 1939 Kalee No. 12 35mm projector in its front window, lent by another Network member, the Projected Picture Trust.

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