Old cine film of Somerset

We have recently been contacted by Trevor Bailey who is searching for old cine films of Somerset. He is involved with a charity that has funds to digitise old cine films, and to show them to the communities.  He had heard of the Sidney Hill films of Langford House, which John Hunt has recently had digitised. These are a remarkable record of life in Langford and Churchill in the 1930s. A VHS tape of the film was shown at a History Group meeting some years ago, but John’s reedited DVD version has been cleaned up, and consists of  over one hour of material. We are hoping that we will be able to show the film locally to our villagers who might be able to identify many of the individuals who feature in the film.  We are also hoping to send the film to Trevor for inclusion in future shows, which will raise the profile both of Sidney Hill and Langford House.

There will be an opportunity to see some of these old films over the next few weeks at Wedmore  on 21st January( advertisement below) and Clevedon on 29th January.  In due course we will invite Trevor to come to Langford to show us the film archive.

Meanwhile,  if anyone has any old cine films of Somerset, please get in touch with us through the “contact us” page, and we will make arrangements to put you in touch with Trevor.

                                           ” Reel Back the Years “

 There is a hint of excitement in his voice: Trevor Bailey is talking about a couple of rusty old film cans that have just been unearthed. One is labelled ‘Clevedon 1903’ the other ‘1914’. “They need cleaning and repairing, but they could be ready for Wedmore.” We were chatting about plans for an evening of nostalgic films at Wedmore Village Hall on Friday January 21st.

 Trevor leads a charity dedicated to unearthing and preserving films, – largely amateur – of life in Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset. Once preserved and copied he tours the films, taking them back to the places where they’ve been found. Three years ago he dipped into the collection for a wonderful evening of nostalgia and humour in Wedmore. Now he’s coming back and we were discussing other treasures to be found in the archive.

 “There’s the Compton Martin film.” This, he knows, was shot in the 1940s by Ernie Spiller and rediscovered by Dave Salmon, the son of one of the people featured in the footage. It’s a picture of Village life 70 years ago, the pub – the sports day – the people.

 “And what about some early caving film shot near Priddy,” suggests Trevor pulling out a reel that’s about 50 years old. “Or a lovely 1930s film of Burnham, – including the carnival?” Search through this archive and there’s the chance to relive the snows of 1963 in Westbury–sub-Mendip, ride again on the old Dorset and Somerset Railway between Highbridge and Glastonbury, or witness the transition from horse-power to tractors on a war-time farm near Corfe Castle.

 Sometimes the old films are revisited. This is just what happened to one film shown last time at Wedmore: it inspired part of a TV documentary. Anyone who was there will recall that collective intake-of-breath when an image of a young man spraying fruit trees with DDT flashed up. This early film, shot in Somerset, became the basis for a return to the same family-run farm. Trevor is keen to bring the updated clip back in January.

 From Burnham to Clevedon, from the Levels up the hill, past a snow-bound Westbury, to Priddy, memories of bygone times will flicker back into life. “And we could show Clive Gunnel eating snails at the Miners Arms…” Trevor is still digging into this remarkable archive.

 Don’t miss his return visit to Wedmore Village Hall on Friday 21st January and see the new material he’s found. The lights will dim at 7-00!

“Somerset on Film” event at the Curzon Cinema , Clevedon.
Sat 29 Jan at 2pm
Somerset on Film (U)
100 mins+interval

A selection of vintage films featuring Somerset life from the early 20th century onwards, much of it shot by local people themselves. The programme will include a selection of newly digitised films from the Curzon Collection. Full details will be available nearer the date. Presented in association with Trilith, the charity dedicated to preserving film records of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Tickets: £6.00 (concessions £5.00) available on the door.