Whitwick & District U3A - History Group films
This page lists the films used by the History Group during 2020 when physical meetings were not possible due to Covid restrictions. They are in reverse chronological order.
Monday 28th Dec
In so many ways 2020 has been a lousy year full of gloom and doom, during which we have had previously unimaginable restrictions placed on our liberty and faced the decimation of so much of our lifestyles. News media tends to focus so much on wars, disasters and what is wrong in the world that it is easy to forget the huge weight of helpfulness, kindness and enthusiasm to make Leicestershire, UK and the world a better and happier place. The last films of 2020 are a potted history of some of the good things that have happened during the lifetimes of our members:
RAF Mountain Rescue (1950) This features the dedicated volunteers of a mountain rescue team based where my father helped maintain planes as an aero engine fitter. Although it features mountain rescue it could easily have been the RNLI or the hundreds of neighbours who spontaneously help search for a missing child or pet.
1998 - Good Friday Agreement explained in 90 seconds Wars and civil disturbances are terrible things, but former enemies can come together to end them. Whether it is Ireland, South Sudan, Columbia or anywhere else in the world the agreements are always imperfect, but the end of conflict always makes places better.
2014 How Sempervirens Fund Saves Redwood Forests / Top 5 Conservation Successes
Of 2018 Although climate change, endangered species and biodiversity in general
face lots of challenges, we should remember that worldwide millions of people
work to achieve conservation successes.
How Sempervirens Fund Saves Redwood Forests
Top 5 Conservation Successes Of 2018
40th anniversary of smallpox eradication Vaccines and programmes to eradicate smallpox, polio, ebola and in 2020 coronavirus are fabulous examples of people working together to improve lives. Coronavirus elimination has a long way to go, but the achievement of vaccines in such a short time frame is breathtaking.
Random Acts of Kindness - Faith In Humanity Restored - Good People 2019 A reminder that everyday there are people making a difference. History shows we can all make a difference by phoning a friend, a kind word to the supermarket checkout lady or a positive social media post.
Ethiopia's famine: Remembering 30 years on - BBC News / Band Aid - Do They
Know It's Christmas? (Live Aid 1985) The terrible famines in Biafra, Ethiopia
and other places are terrible memories from history, tinged with a pride that
the world always tries to respond to famines, floods, volcano eruptions, earthquakes
and other disasters. There may be arguments over how successful Band Aid / Live
Aid was, but music stars tried and millions responded with donations. What will
never be known is how many people were inspired by Band Aid and Live Aid to
keep donating to charities, volunteer with charities and community groups and
just be nicer, friendlier and more helpful to others.
Ethiopia's famine: Remembering 30 years on - BBC News
Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas? (Live Aid 1985)
Monday 21st Dec
Some seasonal film clips seemed appropriate this week.
Weird History of Christmas Carols - Music History Crash Course
The History of Christmas Carols | Music History Video
Evolution of Christmas Songs (1744-2020)
Monday 14th Dec
Despite the challenges of 2020 we are now in the festive season where people eat, drink and be merry. Christmas lights shine brightly during dark evenings, even if people have to share their drinks with friends via zoom. Liz sent me a link to her daughter's Youtube clip of her rambles through her French vineyards, which includes a little bit of history about wine making - it never occurred to me that grape skins could be distilled into 94% alcohol. This sparked me off into looking at the history of various drinks. So I hope you enjoy the films.
How Wine INVADED THE WORLD - A journey through the History of Wine as it travelled round the Globe
A brief history of alcohol - Rod Phillips
Monday 7th Dec
Wonderful old London around 1900 in colour! [AI enhanced and colourized] The film choice for December is a fascinating digitally enhanced and colourized piece showing London, in particular London transport, over the period 1895 – 1915. At the start we see roads full of horse drawn traffic – with masses of pedestrians. Then, within a few years, motorised transport took over. The streets now seem much clearer with less traffic, - and not so many pedestrians wandering around! It all seems so much more sedate now.
Monday 30th Nov
A bit different this week, a little bit of history of music. How many of these items do you remember? Do you agree with the filmmakers' interpretation?
Monday 23rd Nov
When browsing I came across this food bombers film about allied food drops to the starving people in a cut off corner of the Netherlands. This subject was new to me so I am sharing it along with a couple of amazing feats of engineering. These remind us that the brains of hidden people behind the scenes can make a huge difference, not just during wars but in many of the challenges of daily life.
Food Bombers - Allied Operations Behind German Lines, Netherlands 1945
Pipe Line Under The Ocean ('PLUTO')
Monday 16th Nov
Some changes in our lives seem incredible, not just technological changes but also the value of money. Some of our group will have grown up in families where the father was earning just over £4 a week as in this 1946 film. What would £4 get us these days? The Railwaymen - 1946 - full version
Railways were a major technological advance that had a huge impact on the way people lived. We tend not to consider their impact on social interaction, which is why this film on abolishing 2nd class travel is so interesting. There is the underlying question, why didn't they abolish 3rd class? Abolishing 2nd Class on the Midland Railway, 1875
Monday 9th Nov
A topical film is Top 10 presidents of the USA It was made in 2014, so Obama and Trump have not been included. It's interesting to muse where they would fit in the presidential rankings. Irrespective of our political views, I'm sure we can enjoy the history.
Monday 2nd Nov
The offering this time is a delightful British Transport Film of 1952. The narrator is the author A.G. Street, whose film adaptation of The Strawberry Roan (1944) was recently shown on Talking Pictures TV. Mr Street was also a regular columnist for Farmers Weekly.
Farmer Moving South - The true story of a farmer who transported his entire livestock from Yorkshire to Sussex via train - on the coldest night of the year.
Monday 26th Oct
Toilets have been a well publicised feature of the coronavirus pandemic, with shortages of toilet paper in some countries and many public toilets closing in the UK. So you might enjoy learning a little about their history, including how problems with a toilet sunk a submarine.
How The Toilet Changed History - 1 in 3 people on Earth still lack access to basic sanitary toilets.
The Remarkable History of Toilet Paper - Toilet paper a modern invention
U-1206's Toilet Disaster - How the design of a toilet led to the loss of a submarine!
At 3 pm on Monday 19th Oct
These days I cannot imagine the 1954 film Zulu being made in the same way as it was then, even so the fictitious singing of Men of Harlech is etched in my mind. I was therefore delighted to chance upon the story of Henry Hook who won a Victoria Cross and went on to a career of dusting books and looking after walking sticks. Further clips including the transcript of Frank Bourne's interview tell a fascinating tale irrespective of personal views about war.
Rorke's Drift to the British Museum: The story of Henry Hook
Battle Stack: The Battle of Rorke's Drift tactics
At 3 pm on Monday 12th Oct
Thanks to Pete Johnson for sharing this Sunderland heritage film, to which I have added a short historical animation of Sunderland.
Seventeen Nineteen - Holy Trinity, Sunderland - a virtual tour of a Georgian church.
Digital history for week commencing Monday 5th Oct.
Valley This 1957 British Transport Film presents an interesting impression
of a day's life in the valleys of south Wales and it looks as though it may
have been shot in autumn. The commentary is spoken by the popular Welsh actor
- and star of many a British B film - Donald Houston.
For some reason the link starts 10 minutes into the film, so just pull the red dot and line at the bottom to the left to start it from the beginning.
To complement it, there are some short films about the South Wales valleys. I've never been to Ferndale (Welsh Glynrhedynog the fern valley) and only once to play rugby in Gilfach Goch (translates as the small, red secluded area) which is shaped like an elongated frying pan - one road in, a loop around the outside and back out the way you came in.
Yvonne Smith - Memories of Gilfach Goch - Narrated by Peter Watts
At 3 pm on Monday 28th Sept
This week's films provide an opportunity to brush up on some local history.
William Lilly's Cottage - Diseworth - Leicestershire. A couple of minutes covering the restoration of the thatched cottage
How to get ahead in life when your father is in debtors prison - walk to London, serve your master and marry a rich widow 25 years older than yourself and become a master astrologer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lilly
The Changing Face of Hathern Village Loughborough. 100 years of village changes.
Hathern Village Scenes c1955. Includes a fascinating interview with one of the oldest residents.
At 3 pm on Monday 21st Sept
The history of Mwmbwls, Gower is featured this week.
MUMBLES RAILWAY SWANSEA - BBC Wales The world's first passenger railway, nearly two decades before George Stephenson and Stockton Darlington!
Capsized: The tragic story of The Mumbles lifeboat disaster
At 3 pm on Monday 14th Sept
Any Man's Kingdom An attempt to capture the variety of life in Northumberland, and in particular something of the county's heart-warming atmosphere. This charming 1956 British Transport Film features music by Elizabeth Lutyens and the narrator is well known film, stage & TV actor Stephen Murray who is perhaps best remembered as Number 1 in the long running radio comedy series The Navy Lark.
At 3 pm on Monday 7th Sept
Watch Holiday online Last week we journeyed to The Lancashire Coast and we now move on to 1957 for a traditional seaside Holiday in Blackpool itself. This lively British Transport Film is great fun featuring brilliant camera work, a terrific soundtrack by Chris Barber and his Band, and narration by Robert Shaw. The film naturally finishes with a glimpse of the town's famous illuminations.
There are more things to do on holiday than just lie on a beach. Yorkshire's Hidden History provides a few tips on how to recognise church architecture.
At 3 pm on Monday 31st Aug
The Lancashire Coast It is now the August Bank Holiday weekend so this must be the time to take a little holiday. So, let's go back to 1957 with British Transport Films for a tour of The Lancashire Coast. Our narrator is once again the actor/radio broadcaster Hubert Gregg. BTF often produced these wonderful (now nostalgic) travelogues with professional actors actually appearing as, seemingly, 'members of the public'. This bright little documentary concludes with a courting couple set against a backdrop of the Blackpool illuminations, - but a previous reviewer points out the young man is actually actor Bill Treacher, best known for his role as Arthur Fowler in Eastenders.
To go with the film, take a gander at:
At 3 pm on Monday 24th Aug
Miss Grant goes to the door (1940) - Miss Grant Goes to the Door features the highly respected actresses of stage and screen Mary Clare & Martita Hunt, and was produced to help keep the British public on their guard at a time when there was a real fear of invasion after the Dunkirk evacuation. In this dramatic short, two elderly spinsters deal with German paratroopers dropped into their garden!
Went the Day Well? (1942) - trailer. Went the Day Well? will soon be getting a couple of showings on Talking Pictures TV (Freeview 81, Sky 328,Virgin 445), - on Saturday 5th September @ 6pm & on Wednesday 9th September @ 2.30pm.
You might be interested in my new 'favourite historian', a young lady with a quirky sense of humour, who is passionate about Yorkshire history.
Yorkshire's Hidden History, A Brief History of Saltaire, Flora Sandes - The Yorkshire Woman Who Fought For Serbia in WWI, The 1820 Yorkshire Rebellion, The Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536, Witches in Yorkshire, Catherine Warr - Yorkshire's Hidden History
At 3 pm on Monday 17th Aug
Look at Life Vol 01 Transport Vintage Models 1963 This week, the Rank Organisation short Vintage Models (1963) takes a look at the restoration of vintage cars and includes a visit to Montagu Motor Museum in the New Forest. Hope you will agree, it's wonderful to hear Raymond Baxter again!
Genevieve And now a little tie-in...why not take a look at this clip from the much loved, classic comedy film Genevieve (1953) starring John Gregson, Kenneth More, Kay Kendall and Dinah Sheridan (with Larry Adler playing the harmonica!). The TV channel, Talking Pictures TV (Channel 81 on Freeview) frequently shows this delightful colour film.
This week I have added several short clips featuring transport during the last couple of centuries:
Oldest Footage of London Ever A time when horse and motor powered transport coexisted side by side
York Museums Trust - Hansom Cab Although born in York, Hansom moved to Leicestershire where he invented the Hansom cab. He was an architect and amongst his buildings are Birmingham Town Hall and Leicester Museum and Art Gallery in the New Walk.
A change from the above is pedal power. These clips brought back memories for me as in the 1970's the Scout Group I was in took part in the local races at Barry Island, regional events in Kidderminster and Weston-super-Mare and the nationals at Scarborough and Brighton.
Soapbox Derby (1961) Held in Scarborough
SCOUT CAR RACES More than a hundred peddle-powered monsters in the annual scout-car races at Brighton in 1971.
At 3 pm on Monday 10th Aug
'Staycations' are very much in the news this year as many of us are opting for holidays in the UK and it seems caravan & campervan holidays are proving particularly popular.
Caravan Concourse - In 1966, an entry in the Pathé Pictorial series offered an insight into caravan holidays...
Home On Wheels - In 1957, Pathé also produced this little look at Dora Bryan's campervan, - which was apparently something of a surprise item at the time. You will note, campervans (in contrast to the more upmarket motorhomes) have not changed a great deal over the years.
From these films looking at the history of British holidays seemed a natural extension, so the following is 10 minutes on how Blackpool developed into a holiday destination.
History of The British Holiday | How The Victorians Built Britain | Channel 5
A name such as Eugenius Birch is always worth investigating so here is a little more.
IAAPA Hall of Fame: Eugenius Birch and the Seaside Amusement Pier
At 3 pm on Monday 3rd Aug
Ideal Home Exhibition . In 1963, Pathé News produced this attractive short support film in Technicolor for their ABC cinema circuit, showing highlights of that year's Exhibition.
At 3 pm on Monday 27th July
Vive Torbay: Travelling to the British Seaside (1968). It's still holiday time, - and what could be nicer than a week in the borough of Torbay (Torquay, Brixham & Paignton), - the English Riviera. This week's featured film is a nostalgic Pathé Pictorial short produced in 1968 as a supporting film for the ABC cinema circuit.
Britain's Real Monarch (British History Documentary). This film is based on the premise that Edward IV was illegitimate and that the Hastings family of Ashby castle are the true heirs to the throne. For those who enjoy the what ifs of history, family trees and local interest this is a must.
At 3 pm on Monday 20th July
NORTH TO WALES - A nostalgic holiday excursion, - as we leave Euston Station in 1956 bound for North Wales. Another delightful British Transport Film short, this time narrated by popular Welsh character actor Meredith Edwards as he fondly remembers his homeland.
1947 family outing to Roath Park Cardiff. A few years before my time but very recognisable - boating lake, swimming huts, the big slide.
Barry Island prepares for Easter 1962 The nearest sandy beach was Barry Island - we spent many summer days there with sandcastles, fish and chips, ice cream and a few rides in the funfair before the train home.
Old Abandoned Rusty Trains In UK. Abandoned Train. Cars On The Barry Scrapyard. Ghost Train. The train to Barry Island passed the train scrapyard - it's a good job that they started work on breaking up the thousands of coaches, as before they got to the locomotives many heritage railways were established and headed to Barry. Virtually every heritage railway in the country now has a train or coach that has been recovered from Barry. If you are a steam train enthusiast you will recognise many different types of locomotive.
1968ish Porthcawl My grandparents lived in Porthcawl so trips to Coney Beach funfair were a regular feature, if you stayed on the waterchute for a second ride it was cheaper. Paddling in the sea and digging sandcastles.
Tenby to Manorbier on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in West Wales - July 2016. This clip reminds me of holidays in a caravan at Tenby and Saundersfoot, with train trips to Lydstep Haven and Manobier. Also of my later wild camping walks along the Pembrokeshire coast path. Exploring Manobier castle is a vivid memory. In 1146 Gerald of Wales, the great 12th-century scholar known as Geraldus Cambrensis was born at the castle. He was the fourth and youngest son of William de Barri, who was related on his mother's side, to the legendary Welsh princess Nest ferch Rhys.
At 3 pm on Tuesday 14th July
Smokeless Coalville - BBC news report from 1963. At the time, former athlete Chris Brasher was a reporter for the BBC's Tonight programme and our film this week features Coalville UDC's resolve to become smokeless. Various local people are interviewed and the footage includes some interesting location shooting.
Charles and Mary - a film about social reformers Charles and Mary Booth. It's a shame that this is the last film involving children from Grace Dieu Manor School as it is closing.
At 3 pm on Monday 6th July
Look at Life Vol 01 Transport All through the Night. In 1959-60, the Rank Organisation produced a series of short documentary films under the title Look at Life for their Odeon and Gaumont cinema chains to replace the circuit's newsreels. The film this week is a particularly good example of these 'slice of life' supporting films, a very colourful, interesting and entertaining insight into life on the road for the night drivers of British Road Services.
Continuing the 60's theme
At 3 pm on Monday 29th June
Down To Sussex Thanks to this wonderful British Transport Film, we can be transported back to 1964 to take a very rich and varied tour of Sussex. So, let's take the train to a county rich in scenic beauty and history and enjoy the delights of the seaside, peaceful downland villages and fertile weald.
To go with the film, some short clips about Sussex.
At 3 pm on Monday 22nd June
Highland Journey (1957) Another delightful film from British Transport Films and another little time capsule of seemingly tranquil days and lifestyles in the Highlands of Scotland.
Keeping on a Scottish theme are a couple of films about Glasgow.
Billy Connolly's History & Culture Of Glasgow | Made In Glasgow Billy does not tell us a lot in this short film, but it is interesting to see what elements of the city's history and culture he has selected in his personal viewpoint.
Glasgow 1980 (made in 1971) This film shows us how much Glasgow was changing in the 1960s and 1970s. However, for me the most fascinating part is how our attitudes have changed. Some people feel that the exciting new buildings of that period are actually soulless concrete monstrosities, some of which have already been demolished.
At 3 pm on Monday 15th June
The Travel Game (1958) "All aboard The Hook Continental!" at Liverpool Street Station in 1958, bound for the ferry at Harwich, and then on to the Hook of Holland. Our host traveller/narrator is actually well known actor Hubert Gregg who surmises where his fellow passengers may be bound for.
As the film concerned a journey to the Hook of Holland a few snippets of Dutch history seem appropriate.
At 3 pm on Monday 8th June
Watch Train Time (28 minutes) Examining a day in the life of what was then the busiest railway system in the world - British Railways.
The Open Road Startling colour photography of 1920s Britain imbues Claude Friese-Greene's 1920s road trip around Britain. A silent film, 65 minutes, with captions. For those unable to go on holiday this year, how about a 1920s motor tour from Lands End to John O' Groats.
At 3 pm on Monday 1st June
Watch The Daily Round: The Story of Milk Production and Distribution Indulge your nostalgia for the old-fashioned milk bottle with this promotional film made for Express Dairy Company (later known as Express Dairies), described in the film as "the most modern dairy in the world". This 22 minutes short takes us back to the time of our own childhood when our milk was delivered daily - in one pint glass bottles.
Three Unusual Historic Places
Grand, Historic, and Never Used: The Forgotten Tunnel of Park Estate - 5 minutes. A piece of Nottingham history you have never heard of and can explore for yourself.
The Vasari Corridor: The World's Least Secret Secret Passageway - 5 minutes The ultimate extravagance of the super rich - a 1km passageway between two Florence palaces.
At 3 pm on Monday 25th May
This is York (1953; 20 minutes) Historical York, industrial York and the surrounding countryside are the backdrop, but the main setting is York Station on an autumn day from dawn to dusk. All railway life is shown here. The film precedes the Beeching cuts by 10 years .
Von Trapp Family
It is fascinating to see what parts of the story the film makers kept and which bits they changed. Watch the short or long versions (or both)
Documentary on the Von Trapps - 10 minutes
A Familia Von Trapp - Harmonia e Discordia - 46 minutes
And a bit about the cast, as their reminiscences are living history: The Sound of Music 50th anniversary cast interviews and gala
At 3 pm on Monday 18th May
British Transport Films, Our Canteens - Its 12 minutes cover the complexity of the canteen service, conditions of work and the aims of training. It features advice on how the employees should cope with difficulties which arise on the job and emphasises the importance of efficient, friendly canteens to the transport staff. This may all seem rather quaint now but overall we see a charming, lively and entertaining little film which provides a delightful slice of 1950's social history.
Beyond a general awareness of the Picts I know very little, so these short films peaked my interest:
If VE day has sparked your interest in the WW2 period and you have plenty of time, you might wish checkout some of the films on BBC's iPlayer
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The King's Speech
While some liberties are taken with the history they all capture the mood and spirit of the times.
At 3 pm on Monday 11th May
The Coal Industry Two very contrasting films .
Miners Strike in South Derbyshire With flying pickets at the colliery entrance the moderate miners of South Derbyshire face the painful decision of whether to cross the picket line.
Mining Review 2nd Year No. 11 American actor and singer Paul Robeson visits an Edinburgh colliery, where he regales miners with a rendition of 'I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night'.
More info can be found with Working Lives In The Mining Industry from Future Learn, which is a group of universities and other organisations running a range of short online courses.
At 3 pm on Monday 4th May
Charge of the Light Brigade - Trailer for the classic Warner Brothers film The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)
Crimean War. The Battle of Sinop, after which Sinope mine was named and the
collection of cottages surrounding the mine assumed the same name.
Swannington Coal Mines Swannington's Califat and Sinope coal mines were both named after events leading to the start of the Crimean War.
At 3 pm on Monday 27th April
They Take the High Road (1960; 25 mins). Set in Scotland, this film tells the story of four British Road Services drivers who lived and worked together for two years, loading and transporting 20,000 tons of cement in seven-and-a half-ton loads up craggy mountain roads from the little railway station at Killin to the new Giorra Dam.
History of the Vatican
Charnwood Forest Railway
Charnwood forest Railway Shepshed to Whitwick Monday 27th was meant to be a visit to Whitwick Historical Group at The Station. So it seems appropriate to include this film about a walk along the railway track bed - by an intrepid walker with a keen interest in railway bridges.
At 3 pm on Monday 20th April
Water Marks . A geographical journey around the town, harbour and coastline of Wells-Next-the-Sea.
AWAY FOR THE DAY is a film produced by British Transport Films about days out by coach in the early 1950s.
Leicester & Swannington Railway A walk up the line from West Bridge, Leicester covering what was left of the L&SR up to Desford Junction in 1964 just before the track was lifted.
Leicester & Swannington Railway 150 years celebration A film of the only steam locomotive to run on the Coleorton Railway.
At 3 pm on Monday 13th April
Special (1955) is a delightful record of the first train excursion organised
for the CTC on Sunday 8 May 1955.
When the United States invaded England, The Whitehaven Raid
French Invasion of Fishguard - I grew up on the tale of the French surrendering to a group of Welsh women,.
Henry Tudor's guide to Pembrokeshire
At 3 pm on Monday 6th April
At 3pm Monday 30/3/20, please join me from the luxurious comfort of your homes to watch three short Coalville related videos on YouTube: