Memories of a bygone age on film

MEMBERS of Morpeth Antiquarian Society were treated to an evening of films of bygone Morpeth at their latest meeting.

Keith Hartnell, himself a film-maker, has digitised and edited over 113 hours of cine film made by local farmer Tom Temple.

Mr Hartnell, accompanied by Tom’s son, Clive, set the scene as to how these films came into being.

Tom began filming in 1931 with a 9.5mm cine camera. Over 50 years he filmed anything that moved in Morpeth and much of what didn’t — from sporting events, carnivals, miners’ galas, the regatta and Rotarian events to livestock markets, shows and re-builds of properties.

Digital copies of the films are deposited in Woodhorn Archives where they can be accessed by anyone.

A sequence of film from the 1933 Morpeth Olympics showed the almost gentlemanly sport of local wrestling and many running events. The high jump was not for wimps as there was no soft landing on foam, only hard turf.

Of special interest, a recently discovered film of the 1958 Morpeth Olympics (the last one) will be available for viewing at next year’s Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering from April 13 to April 15, 2012, in the run up to the London Olympics.

One past event in Morpeth that could find difficulty with health and safety legislation was the Regatta.

This appears to have been great fun on the river, with jousting on rowing boats and a decorated rafts competition. Most people ended in the water or were drenched by others with buckets.

One 1950s film recorded the visit of Polish people returning to a place of refuge during World War II.

This clip served as a taster for the November 25 meeting when Miss Krystyna Wojcicka will give a talk on ‘The Common Camp — Morpeth’s Polish Community’ in St James’ Community Centre, Wellway, at 7.15pm. Anyone is welcome to attend.