A million feet of Scottish film history preserved

A major project which has seen over a million feet of film copied has been completed by the Scottish Screen Archive. As a result, 420 hours of original film has been transferred to high quality digital videotape, making 2,800 titles accessible to the public for the first time. The material covers an amazing range of subjects from 20th century Scottish life including art, culture, domestic life, industry, sport and politics among many others.

The three-year, Heritage Lottery Funded project enabled the archive to establish a digital restoration facility, bringing cutting edge digital techniques to the restoration of moving images. The first film completed with this new technology was The Wedding of the Fourth Marquess of Bute, which was filmed in 1905.

A newly enlarged and enhanced website will enable users to search the archive's catalogues easily and provide the facility to view more than 1000 clips of film material online. The subject matter is hugely diverse, featuring, among other things a ship launch in 1903, footage of the 1912 Bo'ness Fair, domestic life in 1950s Glasgow and highlights of Scotland's famous Wembley win in 1967.

As well as preserving the footage and making it accessible, the project also saw the appointment of an Education and Outreach Officer to promote the collections to schools and organisations across the country through an extensive programme of screenings, talks and events.

Scottish Screen Archive curator Janet McBain said: 'This is a real milestone for us. I am very grateful to our staff for their hard work and to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their generous support. It is wonderful to know firstly that this material, much of it rare or unique, is now safely preserved for future generations and even more pleasing for us to be able to show it to the people of Scotland.'

Ken Hay, chief executive of Scottish Screen, said: 'Scottish Screen is proud to have been able to support this important project, creating a lasting legacy of our cultural heritage which can be used and enjoyed by generations to come. The Scottish Screen Archive has taken the lead in exploiting digital technologies in both preserving Scotland's film and television heritage, and in making that material available to a wide audience. The Heritage Lottery Fund are to be commended for their foresight in their sponsorship of the initiative, as is the National Library of Scotland in recognising its value and potential. We look forward to continuing to work with the Archive in developing and promoting this valuable resource.'

Commenting from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Manager for Scotland, Colin McLean, said: 'Historical footage allows us to glimpse our ancestors going about their daily lives, to learn about what was important to them and the influences that shaped Scotland into what it is today. The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to have been able to support the preservation of this unique archive which is now available for us all to marvel at and learn from.'

During the course of the project, the Scottish Screen Archive merged with the National Library of Scotland. National Librarian Martyn Wade said: 'Since the merger in April 2007 the Scottish Screen Archive has become an integrated part of the NLS collection, and this project exemplifies everything we strive to do in terms of preserving and making accessible collections material in all formats.'

Scottish Screen Archive material has been featured in many areas of NLS activity such as education, exhibitions and public events, while NLS readers can now view DVD material from the collection in the Reading Rooms at George IV Bridge.


National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge

Tel: 0131 623 3700


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18 March 2008

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