The North West Film Archive (NWFA) has released a selection of its extensive archives online to entertain and lift people’s spirits during the coronavirus pandemic.

The archive is part of Library Services at Manchester Metropolitan University, holding 50,000 amateur and professional films from the region dating from 1890 to the present day.

Films include cinema newsreels, documentaries and home movies on a wide range of subjects including, sport and leisure, local traditions, community activities, transport and wartime experiences across the North West of England.

The team behind the archive collection has been sharing one of their favourite films each day throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown on their Twitter and Facebook page using the hashtag #NWFADailyReel.

They hope that the footage will enable people to see the past come to life while in lockdown and allow families to reflect on how we used to live.

Will McTaggart, Cataloguing and Access Assistant at the NWFA, said: “We’ve had some really nice responses to our films on social media, people who remember certain events, sharing their memories about certain industries, or recall stories from their own parents of grandparents – and that’s what I like about this initiative.

WATCH: Street games we used to play

“It’s always rewarding to read about the connections people make with these records and how their stories and perspectives can add to what we know about the footage. But I also think our current, changed situation has given a new meaning to many of the films in our collection.”

Popular films so far have included those that show street games in the 1950s, the cotton industry in 1919 and those that look back on the roles of our key workers, such as nurses, refuse collectors and post men.

Will added: “With archive staff now working from home, this new initiative has allowed us to show everyone the range of material we hold, and the historical and geographical depth of the collection.

“Our archive is always open for people to explore but because there’s so much content it can perhaps be overwhelming for newcomers, so this is a really nice way for us to introduce users to the sort of material we look after.”

The NWFA is based at Manchester Central Library which is temporarily closed, but the archive remains ‘open for business’ with its film catalogue and many of its films available online for everyone to explore, including staff members, students and alumni of the University, as well as the local community.

To explore the collection and view films online visit the NWFA website and Vimeo account.


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