Each month I write an article for the Derby Telegraph’s Bygones Pullout.
In this month’s article I’ve written about This is Derby, an amateur cine film made in around 1966 by school teacher Norman Fitchett as part of a school project by Pear Tree Junior School.
The film was originally deposited by Mr Fitchett at Derby Local Studies Library and was subsequently moved to MACE’s care in 2012.
According to the notes we hold of this 8mm film it is thought that the third year children at Pear Tree Junior School conducted a school project called This is Derby in around 1966, which looked at the history, geography, industry and leisure activities available in the then town of Derby. The school owned an 8mm camera and Mr Fitchett volunteered to capture images of Derby for the project some of which were filmed when the children were on a town trail.
In the film Mr Fitchett filmed many establishing shots of shops and industrial buildings, including static shots of a variety of shop fronts and industry signage which provide a fascinating tour of the many businesses which existed in Derby at the time.
In one section we see the frontages of Aiton Pipes, Rolls Royce, Royal Crown Derby, Leys Castings Ewart Conveyors, Qualcast, F.W Hampshire Co Ltd, International Combustion Ltd, British Railways Carriage & Wagon Works Workshops, Fletcher and Stewart Limited and British Railways Board Research Department Engineering Research Division.
Similarly, there are brief shots of a number of store fronts on the high street in the late 1960s. There is a fabulous shot of the Woolworths frontage as E W Woolworth & Co. Ltd and of Cope and Taylor Chemists which Bygones reported last year closed on 30th June 1972.
The film also captures moving images of buildings and places that no longer exist. The Corporation Electricity Power Station stands imposingly behind the Council House from a shot by the riverside. The power station was built in 1894, closed in 1969 and demolished in 1972 – what is now Silk Mill Park.
Mr Fitchett also shot scenes of Morledge Market, where Derby Crown Court now stands. In the film we see a policeman directing traffic in front of the market entrance as a fire engine draws past and we see the vibrantly coloured flowers at the market entrance. We also see a market stall holder capturing a small crowd’s attention with his sales patter.
We also see brief shots of Castlefield Main Centre, including the statue,’ Boy and Ram’ which was relocated to the River Gardens
There are various shots of familiar buildings, some of which haven’t changed from near 50 years ago, others that are recognisable but their appearance has altered: Boots on St Peter’s Street, built in 1912 by architect Albert Nelson Bromley of Nottingham is blue with white windows in the film. There are shots of the towers of Derby College of Technology on Kedleston Road which had been opened by the Duke of Edinburgh on 15th May 1964 (MACE also has footage of this opening on our website). In 1992, following its merger with a number of educational establishments over the years, it transformed into the University of Derby and, although the Kedleston Road towers do have some recognisable feature a renovation project was completed in 2010 in which they became more energy efficient and revealed a contemporary look. All the 1960s glazing was replaced and the walls re-insulated.
The film also features shots of Derby’s trolley buses. We see scenes of them in action on Victoria Street with Marks & Spencer in the background, now a Tesco supermarket. We also see shots of a trolley bus travelling along London Road, out of Derby. The last trolley bus ran in Derby on 9th September 1967.
Near the end of the film, school children measure the height of the May 1932 Flood from a plaque on the wall to the ground and there of shots of the children at Derby bus station.
The film is the copyright of Norman Fitchett and Pear Tree Junior School.
View the film here:[vimeo https://vimeo.com/68699685]
If you have any memories of Derby in 1966 you would like to share, if you one of the pupils who conducted the project or if you can provide further information on the film, you can email Derby Telegraph at Bygones@derbytelegraph.co.uk