Why historical films can really stand tests of time

The Farm on the Motorway in 1983.
The Farm on the Motorway in 1983.
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IT IS the quirks, customs, challenges and traditions that make rural life in Yorkshire so special.

And now, for the first time, films revealing the hidden histories and forgotten stories of the region’s rural past have been digitised for a new generation as part of the £15m Lottery-funded Britain on Film project.

VISIT: 

The Farm on the Motorway 1983.

VISIT: The Farm on the Motorway 1983.

Yorkshire Film Archive (YFA) was one of a host of regional and television archives that dusted off reels of films, many unseen for decades, as part of the British Film Institute project. It first made some of its 50,000 strong archive available last summer, when thousands of films from around the country were made available of the BFI player.

That focused on films portraying Britain’s cities and urban areas, but now the attention has turned to films showcasing our rural heritage – and YFA was tasked with trying to represent the diverse lifestyle, industry and traditions of Yorkshire on film.

In the Yorkshire Television documentary Blowing Up The Dales, from 1987, campaigners like Mike Harding tell of their quest to protect the countryside from quarrying, while a 1983 film tells of the xhouse between the M62 near Huddersfield. The YFA’s archive manager Graham Relton said the films that are about people really stand out, like Bringing in the Coal, from 1980, which recorded the world coal carrying contest in Gawthorpe, near Wakefield.

He said: “For me, it’s the stories about people that evoke the most feeling.”

Campaigner 
Mike Harding in Blowing up the Dales.

Campaigner Mike Harding in Blowing up the Dales.

To view the films, visit player.bfi.org.uk/britain-on-film.

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