Firefighters uncover a reel piece of history

Station Manager Gary Jefferson looks through some of the old films recovered by Northumberland Fire and Rescue.
Station Manager Gary Jefferson looks through some of the old films recovered by Northumberland Fire and Rescue.

FIREFIGHTERS have made a reel discovery after coming across historic films as they moved out of their Morpeth headquarters.

The footage, which dates back to the 1940s, was found on shelves behind old equipment when the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service packed up to move from the Morpeth base to a new facility in West Hartford.

The films document events from the London Fire Raids in December 1940 to a fire prevention campaign in 1985, making a valuable historical record of the fire service.

And now the clips have been saved for the nation as the Northern Region Film and Television Archive (NRFTA) and the British Film Institute (BFI) plan to add them to their collections.

NRFTA Film Archivist David Parsons said: “These films are an important record of a distinguished organisation, which have been saved for future generations.”

The reels, which were all in a good condition, were taken to NRFTA late last year to be viewed on specialist equipment.

They include footage of the opening ceremony of the Morpeth fire headquarters in 1968, amateur films shot by members of the former Northumberland County Fire Brigade of various exercises and events between 1954 and 1968 and exercises at Lynemouth Colliery, Kyloe Wood and Kielder Forest.

There is also a film of a joint exercise, partly at sea, with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, featuring the Blyth and Newbiggin lifeboats.

The BFI is currently viewing the films with the possibility of acquiring them for its archive, while NRFTA is transferring them onto DVD.

The fire service will be given copies, which it plans to screen at West Hartford Community Fire Station.

Acting Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett said: “These films are a valuable record of fire service and regional history.

“Their translation onto DVD will mean the films can be viewed easily and we’re pleased that the footage looks set for preservation as part of national archives for future generations.”

West Hartford Community Fire Station was officially opened by the Prince of Wales on October 25.

A new fire station was also built at Pegswood and became operational in June.