I’ve been overwhelmed with the response to the teaser I put out for the Brownhills Cinefilm yesterday. The post had a huge number of views and caused quite a stir on Facebook. Interestingly enough, the most popular image was of the Holand Park Bandstand.
Well, at the foot of this post I feature the full 30 minute work. What can I say? It’s shaky. The editing is curiously advanced for the time period. There are issues with field of view (David Evans explains this is to do with the viewfinders on the mechanical cameras used being woefully inaccurate, hence chopped off heads and lots of low shots).
I don’t know the genesis of this film. I know the Local History Centre have a poor quality version on VHS, and a copy of this on DVD will be winging it’s way to them. Reader Gabriel found the record of it in the National Library Archive list a few months ago, and it mentions Brownhills Cine Club, and states the film was purchased from E.R. Jones. Is that the E.E. Jones family, the long-lived local camera shop?
I find the added soundtrack a teeny bit irritating.
Fascinating and occasionally alarming ghosts populate this film; people, buildings and places long gone come back to you with a jolt.
Coombe House is the first building featured, then in use as the Brownhills Urban Ditrict Council Surveyor’s office, but previously the home of John Coombe Maddaver and latterly, Doctor Bradford. In it’s final years it was the Pennycliff club before it’s demolition. This is the only imagery of this house I am aware is still extant.
We have kids at School – possibly Shire Oak, but the archive record Says Mob Lane, Shelfield; both are of a similar construction. We think that’s Millfield School being built. Perfichrome, as described by Bill Shaw last week. Brownhills Bridge where Morris Miner stands today. A gentleman buying a shirt and tie, a lady inspects fruit and veg.
A familiar librarian spins the ticket carousel, and pulls out the Surveyor’s tickets. How many of us forgot that process? I certainly did, and I lived in the place.
We journey on a canal boat, see the dodgems and theme-park era of Chasewater, when it was all new. Go-karts race by. We see what I think are Salvation Army members walking over the bridge, the death throes of Middleton House, also mentioned here recently. The tragedy of the demolished club is short lived, however, as we see a young band playing, and drinkers enjoying a night out in what I assume is the club’s replacement. The fire brigade are on a shout, and the local copper is like something from a 30s era film.
Aldridge Brick Works, Brownhills Gas Works. A colliery I don’t recognise, the archive record says the Grove. Is it? A steam train grinds through Brownhills Station, as does a freight load. The traffic looks hectic. Smoking was clearly popular.
We want as much information readers can supply about this film. Anything you have to say is welcome.
Particular questions are:
- Who’s the surveyor?
- What are the plans of on his wall?
- Is the colliery with the concrete funnel hopper really the Grove?
- Is the school Shire Oak, or Mob Lane?
- Names for any of the people filmed
- Who made the film – not just the Cine Club, but who were they?
- We can clearly see when and who made such an excellent job of converting it. Who had it converted? What’s the story?
- There’s a roving bridge that looks like Catshill Junction but I can’t work it out. Is it? The water doesn’t look right.
I’d like to thank Brian Stringer, who passed the film to David Evans, and to David for ripping it and putting it on dropbox for me. I’d also like to thank everyone involved in the initial preservation and conversion, of which I know nothing. The largesse of all involved in preserving such a wonderful thing is clear to see.
Right. I share this, on one condition. The film is unlisted on YouTube. Please, please, please share this post, not the video URL. If we are to solve the mystery, the information needs to be kept with the film. Please respect this – people have worked hard to share this with the wider world; respect their work too.
So, grab a mug of tea, or maybe a beer, some popcorn, and marvel at a lost world. Show this your dad, your neighbour or your granny. It’s hard to watch in one go, but dip in and out.
Let’s find out what we can about these ghosts on tape.