This is a remarkable piece of video that local historian and Sandfields Pumping Station champion Dave Moore alerted me to on the BFI archive earlier today – I’ve had to do some faffing about, because the BFI doesn’t embed, but you’ll find it below.
Dave Moore explains:
I thought you might like this film (embedded below).
This has to be the most priceless classic film I have seen for some time now. Filmed in and around Oldbury and Blackheath by a filmmaker called Frank Wakeman, capturing the daily activities of everyday people in a post war era.
The film is silent, but it speaks volumes…
I would love to learn more about the people, the places and their lives.
Regards David Moore
Here’s the film. There is no audio, but these kids are remarkable. The faces – no real difference to kids today. The grimness of the environment is in stark contrast to much of the dewy-eyed mawk we hear so much, but these kids are bright, vital, and show that children don’t chance much.
The BFI, who published the film, first made in 1949, have this to say about it:
Frank Wakeman captures some wonderful images of fading Victorian streets unchanged since the industrial revolution. His camera follows children recording an Oldbury in decline. See the girls on their way home from school who pick flowers along the canal towpath. Modern parents may wince at the sight of a boy climbing over a dangerous looking spiked fence but it was a way of life when your environment was also your playground.
In detaching the film, I have no intention of denying ownership, either by the BFI or The Wakeman Estate, more to offer easier access. I wish some of these archives would do the sensible thing and use an embeddable system.
Please, if you can add anything to this film – locations, names, whatever – please do comment or mail me. BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.
Thanks to Dave for sharing a beautiful, illuminating thing – very much appreciated.