FILMS FROM THE PAST ON SCREEN AGAIN By Annette Kinsella
Coventry man Philip Adcock is preparing to view films belonging to his father which have not seen the light of day for about 65 years.
The last time Mr Adcock watched the films, which date back over a century, it was in the 1940s at a makeshift “cinema” set up in his parents’ house in Beresford Avenue in Foleshill.
Retired industrial chemist Mr Adcock, aged 77, who now lives in Styvechale, charged his friends coveted cigarette cards to watch the show – and showed his customers to their seats with a torch just like real usherettes at the pictures.
The cellulose nitrate films – one of which was made in 1899, just years after moving pictures were invented – were the property of Mr Adcock’s father Fred, a research engineer for Courtalds.
Mr Adcock said he did not know where his father got the films but believed he made his own projector while at school.
When his father died, the reels of film, stored in circular tins, became the property of Mr Adcock.
It was only after seeing old films at the Warwick Arts Centre last year, that he decided to hand his own reels to the Media Archive for Central England (MACE) to be copied at a special laboratory.
Now the organisation will show four of them – including rare footage of scenes from the Boer War and a First World War newsreel clip showing women cleaning windows – at a public screening at Warwick Arts Centre on Saturday.
Mr Adcock, who will be guest of honour at the screening, has already been presented with a DVD of the footage.
He said: I wanted to do something with them before it was too late. I remembered some details but there was a lot I had forgotten.
MACE Director James Patterson said: Films were comparatively rare in the pioneering days of cinema and sadly, only a small proportion of them have survived, so the discovery of these three Victorian examples is extremely exciting.