Leicester Mercury – Nov 22, 2008


Some of Britain’s most fascinating archive film footage is to be re-housed in Leicester.

From old regional news broadcasts to precious home movies, more than 25,000 items of moving history dating back to 1897 will form the Media Archive for Central England.

The collection is to be housed at the University of Leicester after being forced away from Nottingham after six years because the city’s university wanted to charge rent.

The archive’s director, James Patterson, said the archive would give people access to an amazing bygone age.

He said: ‘What excites and interests us about our move to Leicester is that there is a very broad base of enthusiastic support.’

‘As well as providing a public service across the Midlands, we want to explore the use of the collection in an academic context.’

‘I see a real opportunity to make Leicester a centre for the exploration of these sorts of collections.’

The archive holds items on film, tape and DVD, including the complete film collection of ATV news from 1956 to 1988. ATV in the Midlands was the first ITV company to introduce a regional news programme and the archive now provides a fascinating insight into Leicestershire in times gone by.

Mr Patterson said: ‘We hold not on the earliest but the most complete of the regional news collections, which is a fantastic social document and research resource.

‘Material retained by the archive relates in some way to the East or West Midlands and contributes to the understanding og the life of the region and people who live there.

‘This might be film of domestic or working life, or maybe going on holiday at home or abroad.’

‘We are interested in all aspects of the filmed life of the region and its people.’

The collection includes a reconstruction of an incident from the Boer War by British cinema pioneer Robert W Paul in the 1920s and a copy of feature film Confetti, which was released this year.

A spokesman for the university said: ‘ We are very much a resource for the local population and this is another way that we are providing  an interface with the community.

‘It’s a real coup for us to get this archive and another reason Leicester is getting on the map.’

City council arts and leisure spokesman John Mugglestone said: ‘This is a real feather in the cap and shows that Leicester has gone a long way and become the capital for arts and film in the Midlands.

‘It’s important for the regeneration of Leicester and all the social aspects that go with that.’

‘It shows Leicester is not a backwater, but somewhere people want to come.’

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