a new DVD from the North West Film Archive
The public premiere of the new film will be presented on Wednesday 21st May at 7.15pm at Manchester’s Dancehouse on Oxford Road.
Tickets are available from the box office, and the DVD can be purchased on the night. It will also be available from IWM North, and from Archives+ in Manchester Central Library, as well as many other shops and heritage outlets.
Lancashire’s First World War Home Front on rare archive film
In this unique DVD to mark the centenary of the First World War, the North West Film Archive opens its vaults to share compelling footage of life on the Home Front in North West England. Narrated by Maxine Peake, this rare archive footage reveals its stories of those who stayed behind, and of how lives were changed dramatically in this dark period of our history. From industrial toil in the years leading up to the outbreak of war, to key events during the hostilities, this evocative footage includes the recruitment and departure of soldiers going to the front, and the poignant memorials for those who did not return. Entirely without combat footage, this early film record is a powerful testament to the lives of people on the Home Front, and the losses and changes they endured, a century ago.
The public premiere of the new film will be presented on Wednesday 21st May at 7.15pm in Manchester’s Dancehouse on Oxford Road. Tickets are available from the box office, and the DVD can be purchased on the night. It will also be available from IWM North, and from Archives+ in Manchester Central Library, as well as many other shops and heritage outlets.
The North West Film Archive was established at Manchester Metropolitan University (then Manchester Poly) in 1977 and has been working for nearly four decades to ensure the survival of films recording life in the North West. Films from the early 20th century are fragile and precious survivors from the pioneer days of the industry, and the NWFA is fortunate to have significant holdings from these early decades, including many rare examples from 1914 to 1918. It now holds in total almost 40,000 items from the 1890s to the present day, and makes the footage available through public film shows around the region, and working with many different organisations and individuals. Recently relocated to Manchester Central Library, the Archive is now a partner in Archives+, where a rich variety of fascinating historical material is available in interactive displays, and for reference and research.
Marion Hewitt, Director of the North West Film Archive said “We are very pleased to have been able to save so much of this rare and unique footage for the region. Releasing it on DVD at the beginning of the period of First World War commemorations means that it will be available early for schools to include in classroom activities, and for individuals, to appreciate the enormity of the sacrifices made by so many.”
The documentary-style production begins by painting a vivid picture of the period immediately before the outbreak of war – a time of relative peace and prosperity – with work in mines, mills and markets across the region. Recognition of the industrial success of the North took the form of a Royal Tour by King George V and Queen Mary in 1913, where thousands can be seen turning out to cheer as their motorcade swept through Lancashire.
Also included are scenes of recruiting in Liverpool, exercising and training in trenches and with bayonets near Bury, troops being inspected by various dignitaries from Blackpool to Bolton, and marching to the Lancaster railway station to board trains taking them to active service on the Western Front.
Regiments featured include the legendary and ill-fated Accrington Pals Battalion; the Cheshire Regiment, the King’s Own Loyal Lancaster Regiment and the Morecambe Volunteers; and the Lancashire Fusiliers, who famously earned six VCs on one day in Gallipoli. Bravery and sportsmanship are featured in the films of Will Onda – a Preston filmmaker and distributor - who captured the athleticism of soldiers with his films of boxing and horsemanship, and the poignant homecoming of Private William Young VC in April 1916.
Other topics explored are early aviation and the lifeboat at Formby, caring for the wounded and the Altrincham War Hospital Supply Depot, women’s changing roles and their fight for the vote, prisoners of war in Lancashire, a troop train disaster in the Borders, and Home Defence activities.
After peace was declared in 1918, the sombre work of remembering the fallen began, and many war memorials were erected and unveiled, becoming the subject for local topical films. These drew crowds to the many cinemas in the region, where the participants could come later to see themselves on the screen – scenes include Peace Pageants in Whalley and Haslingden, and unveilings in towns and villages from Egremont, Carnforth and Kirkham, to Saddleworth, Altrincham and Macclesfield.
For further information or interviews, or for footage stills and clips from this film please contact Geoff Senior Collections Assistant at the North West Film Archive on 0161 247 6556 in the first instance, or Marion Hewitt Service Manager on 0161 247 6554 or firstname.lastname@example.org mailto:email@example.com
For Tickets for the screening at the Dancehouse Theatre on the 21st May costing £5 please contact the Theatre Box Office on 0161 237 9753 or email firstname.lastname@example.org