Another Evocative & Thought Provoking Trip Down Memory Lane @_The_Public with Cipher’s Past Lives Tour.

The Public, West Bromwich.

Last Friday I attended another fantastic screening of Cipher’s Past Lives Music to Archive film performance, this time taking place at The Public, in West Bromwich. It was a wonderful opportunity for members of the surrounding West Midlands communities to come and see some of the home-movie film gems that have been found by the Full Circle groups from across the East and West Midlands.

“We all really enjoyed Friday evening’s performance.  You had done an amazing job with the film, touching, amusing, evocative in turns, with some beautiful faces, and really summoning up what it was to live in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.   The music provided a terrific backdrop, really enhancing what was on the screen by creating just the right atmosphere.”
Sarah Bradley, Full Circle Depositor

The Public’s Past Lives audience were treated to poetic family scenes from the 1950s to 70s, shots of Balsall Heath William Edward Street, Woodside, Dudley, The Black Country, Town Sparrows, Percy Thrower Gardens in Edgbaston, Hop Farming in Herefordshire, a trip to the East Midlands coast, kamikaze motorcycles, and much much more.

All accompanied by Cipher’s specially composed live musical score.

If you’ve not yet managed to attend a Past Lives event, then try and pop down to:

  • 7 July Derby – The Quad, Market Place, Cathedral Quarter, Derby DE1 3AS (01332 290606)
  • 8 July Cromford – Gothic Warehouse, The Arkwright Society, Cromford Mills, Mill Lane, DE4 3RQ (01629 823256) + Workshop
  • 19 July Stamford Arts Centre – 27 St. Marys Street, Stamford, PE9 2DL (01780 763 203)

Watch this space for a Manchester date in September too!

Cipher’s Dave Sturt and Theo Travis with Full Circle Depositor Sarah Bradley and her brother Robert, whose father Christopher Whitcombe’s family films are one of many to play a big part in the Past Lives Performance.

A scene from The Whitcombe Family Film Collection that has been digitised by MACE’s, Heritage Lottery Funded Full Circle film search project.

Photography © Lucie Kerley

Attention Midlander’s! Don’t Forget 2pm tomorrow: Walsall Sea Scouts Archive Film Screening @ The Crossing, Walsall Tickets £3.50

                                          3RD  WALSALL  SEA  SCOUTS  PRESENTS          

     THE  KINESCOUT  PRODUCTIONS  1929  –  1957


Tickets £3.50 and all proceeds will go to Walsall Sea Scouts.


With help from MACE’s Heritage Lottery funded Full Circle Project plus some Government funding a set of old films have been restored and put onto DVD in order that they may be shown to members of the public at St Pauls the Crossing Walsall on Tuesday 17th April at 2pm.

The footage includes a 30 minute long synopsis of a feature film “Haunted  Harbour” inCops and Robbers” using members of the 3rd Walsall Sea Scouts to act out comical scenes. The script for this particular film was written by the nationally renowned Boys Book author and friend of Lord Baden Powell Percy Westerman.

Although supposedly depicting scenes from other parts of the country, all the filming was done in Walsall and it will be apparent to a local audience that the end of the Bridge at Potter Heigham is actually the White Heart Hotel in Caldmore!  There are also scenes shot in and around the old Sister Dora Hospital.

Interesting fact: Did you know the Walsall Sea Scouts were part of the team that organised the 1948 Olympic Sailing Team. 

It is not only a record of what our young Walsall people were doing in the mid 1900`s but an historical record of things of popular interest and an insight to some of the thoughts on how modern technology might be developed in the future (our time now) all with a comic turn! 

The films themselves will be stored from now on at MACE in their humidity and temperature controlled archive store, as they are considered to be of historical interest.

Photography © Lucie Kerley


Last year, DASH – Disability Arts in Shropshire, decided to participate in the Full Circle project, a 3 year Heritage Lottery Funded film search project run by MACE, The Media Archive for Central England. DASH is a disability arts user led organisation, running arts projects across Shropshire and beyond.

Full Circle will support local history societies and other organisations in finding, identifying and using film and video for the benefit of their community.

DASH is one of many community groups helping Full Circle as they embark upon a search for Midlands related moving image materials, such as film, tape or videos hidden away in the community.

DASH is holding it’s annual 2011 Disability Film Festival from 25TH – 28TH October.

As part of this a Full Circle screening of Midlands related archive footage is being held at 2pm, Today, Thursday 27th October at : DASH – Disability Arts in Shropshire,
Unit 4, Monkmoor Road, Monkmoor, Shrewsbury. SY2 5 ST
Visit: – for full festival listings

The screening will include a digitised 16mm title from the Barrs Court Special School Collection: “A film showing how mentally handicapped children learn to live in the community through work, play, visits, travel, and new experiences.” The film was shot around 1964-65 by the Headteacher Mrs Gorin to act as a promotional film for the school to help raise money for a new pool. This film shows an example of the type of film footage that has already been donated to MACE and emphasises the importance of preserving these previously unseen gems.

Liz Pimblett of The Hereford Museum Resource & Learning Centre Full Circle Group – was contacted by Nigel Deeley, whose mother was deputy Head at Barrs Court Special School.

“We were all very excited to see what the collection contained as archive material relating to disabilities is not something that comes to light very often.”
The films were originally shot by the school’s headmistress Mrs Gorin.
Mrs Gorin set up the school in 1954 and was a qualified special needs teacher.

Barrs Court School for mentally handicapped children was ran by Herefordshire Health. Originally it had just 3 employees and then increased in size over the years.

Nigel Deeley’s mother started working at the school originally as a volunteer member of support staff in 1954 and after some shake-up at the school then went on to work as the Assistant Head. Mrs Deeley worked at the school for nearly 30 years.

During those years Mrs Gorin & Mrs Deeley ran the school they took the children on many school trips and holidays. Mrs Gorin had the idea to make a promotional film for the school to help raise funds for a swimming pool and toured the film around the area. Nigel Deeley often helped out in the evening at these film screenings. There were no men involved in the making of the film.

After Gorin left they virtually rebuilt the whole school, originally there was just two classrooms and 2 teachers. The school didn’t cook their own meals as the food used to come from the adjacent kitchens of another Hereford school close by .There were approximately 30 pupils at the school up to the ages of 15/16. A new hydrotherapy pool has now been built at the school to replace the old one and when Nigel Deeley’s mother died they put some money towards the fund for the new hydrotherapy replacement pool.

If you feel that you may have some old reels of film, tape or home videos that may be of interest to Full Circle’s search, that relate to the heritage of the Midlands, please get in touch with:

Full Circle project | Media Archive for Central England (MACE)
Lucie Kerley – Full Circle Curator – 07919 896505 / 01522 837756 (Wednesday’s) –

Dr Paul A. Darke
Visual Arts Manager
DASH – Disability Arts in Shropshire
Tel: 01743 272939 & 01743 271676
Fax: 01743 272939
Unit 4, Monkmoor Road,
SY2 5 ST
Company No. 4294985
Registered Charity No. 1090677


TONIGHT from 7pm!! Come Celebrate Black History Month with @MACEarchive’s Full Circle Project and @The_Drum, Aston with a special screening of archive film and Philip Donnellan’s Controversial Film: The Colony, Bring along any old cine-films!!

Tonight, Wednesday 12th October, The Colony at The Drum

Controversial at the time of its original broadcast, this is a powerful film which explores the lives of Caribbean migrant communities living in Birmingham and the Midlands. Including interviews with Stan Crooke a railway signal man from St Kitts living in Balsall Heath and Bernice Smith a Jamaican teacher working at St James’ Primary School in Handsworth. This screening compliments the launch of the BBC’s ‘Reel History of Britain’ featuring Melvyn Bragg.

by Philip Donnellan

Click on the photo to book tickets!

The Drum are helping our Full Circle Film Search by looking for home-movies, or old cinefilm shot by your relatives that relate to your local area!

MACE’s Full Circle Project pairs up with The Drum to search for home-movies

If you have any old cinefilm or  home-movies relating to the Birmingham, Aston and wider Midlands area and are not sure what to do with them… Bring them along to The Drum this evening and speak to myself, Full Circle Project Curator – Lucie Kerley – or call: 07919 896505 if you are interested in hearing about the possibility of digitising this material in order to make it accessible and preserve it for future generations. – For more information please check out.

See you there!!

Wolverhampton Archives Celebrates it’s Annual History Fair with a MACE Full Circle Project film screening

20111010-091302.jpgOn Saturday I was invited to represent – The Media Archive For Central England aka MACE Heritage Lottery Funded Full Circle ‘Community Film Search’ Project at The Wolverhampton City Archives Annual History Fair at the Molineux Hotel Buildings.20111010-091345.jpg

The doors opened at 10am as throngs of eager historians and members of the public interested in all aspects of local history poured in to look at the different stands represented by history societies from across the region. I was there to talk to prospective new Full Circle groups in the Wolverhampton area and also to screen a compilation put together by MACE’s Phil Leach, of a selection of material held at MACE showing how the city has evolved over the years.20111010-091403.jpg

I also picked up a collection of films belonging to Dick Rose, former Chairman of Wolverhampton Civic & Historical Society, whose collection was deposited with The City Archives.20111010-091437.jpg

There was much interest to hear what the Rose Collection contains, as rumour has it there may be footage shot by Dick of his time in Singapore during the Coronation Celebrations.20111010-091513.jpg

Overall it was a fantastic day with over 330 people passing through the Molineux’s grand doors to take in a little local history, other groups there included the Tipton Civic Society, another local history group involved in the Full Circle Project’s search for film who have recently enjoyed a screening of ‘Tipton in the 1970s’, The Black Country Society, The Claverley Memories Local History Group, The Women of Wolverhampton Group, The Carl Chinn Birmingham Lives Archives,  The Friends of Wolverhampton Archives, Honour & Awards, The Chase ‘Great War’ Project and many more new contacts were made.

Phone: 01902 552480
Minicom: 01902 555554
Fax: 01902 552481

Write or visit:

Archives and Local Studies
Wolverhampton City Council
Molineux Hotel Building
Whitmore Hill

If you have any cine film or home-movies relating to Wolverhampton or the wider Midlands area please contact:

Lucie Kerley – Full Circle Curator: Community & Acquisition on 01522 837756 (available Wednesday’s in the Lincoln Office) or mobile: 07919 896505

or via email:

For more information on the Full Circle Project please check out:

Ready! Steady! Go! A 1953 Appleford Steam Traction Engine Race film goes Full Circle!

Over the past 12 months that the MACE Heritage Lottery Funded Full Circle Project has been running, many wonderful film collections have passed through our doors and this 16mm B/W film by David H. Jones & Charles Alrdidge was no exception. The film has recently been digitally copied using our Flash Transfer equipment and put onto DVD so that it can be watched once more by David Jone & Charles Aldridge, the National Traction Engine Trust and Steam Traction Engine enthusiasts around the world.

I asked David to tell me a little more about the Appleford Races film, which was found by the Belbroughton History Society Full Circle Group, and asked him how it was made.

Appleford Races: Produced by David H. Jones and Charles Aldridge in 1953

This film was made as a programme filler for the Fourfold Film Unit’s annual public show, but the society disbanded soon after and their next show was never held. As a result, very few have ever seen this film and it has never been shown to any audience of more than about a dozen people.


Understanding the motives behind making this film requires an explanation of the overall situation of amateur film making at that time. Although the majority of ciné cameras were used for making casual personal records, there was a significant minority who were interested in making proper films. Besides individuals, there were a number of groups and societies who showed and discussed their members’ films and often made films as a group. I joined one these – Fourfold Film Unit – in 1948 and remained with it until it was disbanded in 1954. Their activities included an annual public show, held in Golders Green, north London, which provided the main audience for their work.


Major amateur productions generally ran for about 20 – 30 minutes and in one year a society rarely made more than two. Attracting a paying audience of two or three hundred required a programme of about two hours, so the main films had to be supported by a number of shorter films from individual members. Every year there was a demand for such programme fillers and no matter what film we shot following our own interests, we kept this outlet in mind.


Early in 1953 I heard that a traction engine rally had been held the previous year, with such success that a second one was planned. It was actually called a traction engine race, because they really did race the engines! I told Charles Aldridge, another member of the society, and we agreed that it might be worth using a reel or two of film on it.

At that time, preserving traction engines was widely seen as very eccentric behaviour, but as we saw it as saving valuable historic relics we had more sympathy with it. If they were kept in working order and steamed occasionally, so much the better, but holding a race for machines which were never intended to travel fast, even by the standards of their day – no, we could not take that seriously.


That settled the general tone of the film; it had to be comic. Beyond that, we had no idea how the event would be run, so we could not script anything; all we could do was to shoot whatever seemed useful as it happened. Our film would have to be short for it would be a comedy based on one joke; the incongruity of racing such machines at all.


We met in pouring rain at the rally ground on a farm at Appleford (just north of Didcot) with two cameras and 200 feet of film. Despite the weather, there was a good crowd and about 20 engines. We saw about four more arrive and get stuck in the mud at the entrance until other engines winched them out. There was a brass band (who played in a tent all day), a refreshment tent, and even two bookmakers!


We found the organiser and learnt the plan of activities, then separated and shot what we chose independently. We met two newsreel cameramen with 35mm Newman Sinclairs but we kept out of each other’s way and I never learnt who they worked for.


The event was planned to begin with a celebrity dropping the starting flag for a grand parade of all the engines in a mass start with a run up the field and back again. Following this, engines were displayed by being driven about as their drivers chose until early in the afternoon, when the races were organised.


Engines raced in pairs, up the field and back, and were successively eliminated.

The film was constructed out of the material we gathered, following the general plan of establishing the event as a race meeting, avoiding any hint of the nature of the competitors. This was only revealed after the flag was dropped. The mass start was presented as the start of the race and from then on it was edited to appear as a race up the field and back which separated them, leaving just two in the competition at the end.


We then decided the final part needed more variety, so we shot some staged cut-aways of a group of cheering spectators. These were taken at an unrelated event at a park in Hendon. We filled the first part with titles in an attempt to parody the newsreel commentator trying to build up excitement, even though there is little to be seen that is exciting. It would have been better with a voice, but sound was difficult then and not justified for a very minor film like this.

We wanted an independent judgement on the result so we entered it for Amateur Ciné World ‘Ten Best’ competition. We knew it was not in the same class as the usual winners, but we were surprised when it gained a Three Star rating (highly commended). However, that was the only comment on it we ever received, for it was never seen by its intended audience.


We have never known what to do with it. It is not suited to any of the events held now where it would be seen by a general audience. It would seem to be of interest to the traction engine enthusiasts, but there are problems. It is a joke which could not work there, because its whole point is the unexpected appearance of traction engines yet for a traction engine group, that is exactly what they would be expecting. They could show it as an historical record of one of the earliest engine rallies, but with some caution because it was deliberately not made as an accurate record of the event. It shows identifiable working engines, and it shows recognisable people, but it is edited to present a false view of how the event was run.


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  • Format           16mm B/W silent 
  • Speed             16 f.p.s.
  • Length           101 feet (4 minutes)
  • Stock              Shot on Kodak 16mm reversal, Gevaert title stock.  Original edited.
  • Show copy     16m reversal print.

Watch the film here:

If you have any home-movies relating to the Midlands area please get in touch with us here at MACE to find out about your nearest participating Full Circle Group who are looking for films in your area.
Lucie Kerley – Full Circle Project Curator: Community & Acquisition – 0116 252 5931 or email

BBC Radio Leicester’s Tony Wadsworth interviews Full Circle Curator Lucie Kerley about Midlands Film finds

 Yesterday I was kindly invited by BBC Radio Leicester’s Tony Wadsworth @WadsworthBBC to talk about MACE’s Full Circle Project and why it is important that people hunt their old films and ensure that they are preserved in the best possible conditions.

If you missed it you can listen again here:

I am on from about 1:09:00 to 1:22:44


If you have any home-movies relating to the Midlands area please get in touch with us here at MACE to find out about your nearest participating Full Circle Group who are looking for films in your area.
Lucie Kerley – Full Circle Project Curator: Community & Acquisition – 0116 252 5931 or email