The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon
Edwardian Britain on Film
Manchester Band of Hope, copyright bfi.
In a photographic shop, in a town in Blackburn, 800 original nitrate negatives sat in sealed barrels, unseen for over 70 years. Rediscovered by local historian Peter Worden in the early 1990s and subsequently acquired by the British Film Institute in June 2000 this collection has been the subject of an ambitious four-year restoration and research project. Described by film historians as the cinematographic equivalent of Tutankhamen's tomb - the Mitchell & Kenyon Project will be launched on Friday 14 January at St George's Hall Blackburn.
The bfi National Film and Television Archive embarked on an ambitious three year preservation and restoration programme for the entire collection. Custom built machinery had to be constructed to deal with problems of variable shrinkage, discoloration and non-standard frame dimension in order to make new safety preservation material and viewing copies.
Alongside this preservation work, the National Fairground
Archive at the University of Sheffield Library and the bfi collaborated
on a ground-breaking research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities
Research Council. This has involved dating and contextualising each of
the films - thus revealing the true importance of the travelling showmen
in commissioning and exhibiting actuality film. Archivists and historians
from the fields of sporting history, transport, popular culture and local
community specialists have aided in this research process to produce 'The
Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon: Edwardian Britain on Film', available
in hardback and paperback from the bfi. Edited by Vanessa Toulmin, Simon
Popple and Patrick Russell, it contains essays from leading historians
covering film history, popular entertainment, the seaside, transport,
the earliest sporting events and the social and economic context of Edwardian
Britain. Together they provide a vivid commentary on an unparalleled collection.
The BBC production 'The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon',
is another of the many exciting outcomes being made available through
this collaborative process, with Dr Vanessa Toulmin, acting as historical
consultant for the series. From factory gates to football matches, the
leaving of Liverpool to the leaving of work, the workers on holiday and
at play; this material provides an unparalleled opportunity to see the
world through the eyes of the working communities of the time. It provides
a filmic history tour of everyday life in Edwardian Britain through the
films of Messrs Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon.
Further events include a touring programme Electric
Edwardians, commencing from February 2005 (also available on DVD from
the bfi), an annotated filmography The Films of Mitchell & Kenyon (Summer
2006) and a series of themed programmes covering transport, sporting history
and leisure will be screened at the National Film Theatre and throughout
Mitchell and Kenyon Handbill.