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Image of Image of a young Bill - from the LSA archives

London's 'lost' film history restored online

Date posted: 14.02.2019


More than 100 hours of restored, unseen footage of London from the past 100 years will be released this month by London’s Screen Archives, thanks to the time and talents of local volunteers and film archivists.

London’s Screen Archives, managed by Film London, is a unique network of over 70 organisations with a shared vision – to preserve and share London’s history on film. New footage is now available to view on London’s Screen Archives website, where enhanced search features enable users to easily discover London’s history and get a sense of how the city looked, in some cases, more than a hundred years ago.

Building on the catalogue of over 350 hours of footage, this new collection was collated as part of London’s Screen Archives’ Heritage Lottery funded project ‘London: A Bigger Picture’ which targeted 15 outer boroughs of London, encouraging inhabitants to contribute old home or archive films, or volunteer on the project in order to capture and discover their own unique social history.

Newly released footage spans boroughs such as Bexley, Croydon and Richmond, captured through the lens of amateur and professional filmmakers alike, with content ranging from celebrating the Coronation in Southgate to centre court tennis at Wimbledon 1938 and scenes from the Ilford Carnival.

Film London is now calling for local people to contribute their own stories to records with an online cataloguing tool called ‘Local Eyes’. For Bill Saunders, 69 from West Kensington, this feature led to a surprising discovery not just about London’s history, but his own. Watching ‘Green Islands’- a film from the London Metropolitan Archives collection, made by London County Council to promote the London parks and open spaces - Bill spotted himself as a child in the film, which he had never seen before.

Reflecting upon the experience, Bill Saunders said: “For me, finding this film was nothing short of a little miracle! I had long given up any idea of ever seeing my little part of this film which was captured when I was just 6 years old. It was originally released as a supporting film to Moby Dick, which I was too young to watch in the cinema - in fact I ended up using my ticket money to gorge myself on sweets instead! Now, over 60 years later I have been able to finally view it through London’s Screen Archives. It is a lovely memory which I love sharing with friends.

View the newly re-launched website here, and find out how to get involved with London’s Screen Archives.


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