Film firsts at the National Library of Scotland

In celebration of UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage on 27 October, the National Library of Scotland is providing an exclusive opportunity to view rare and never-before-seen films and moving images from its Scottish Screen Archive.

The material to be showcased includes restored footage of the earliest known personal wedding film in the British Isles in 1905 as well as the premiere of two recently discovered films which feature a tram ride round Rothesay Bay in 1909 and entertainer Harry Lauder's visit to a Glasgow cinema in 1928.

Scotland's past will be spectacularly brought to life via screenings at the National Library of Scotland's new visitor centre and the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT). In addition, on this day the library will unveil the first phase in its programme to digitise complete films for online presentation from the thousands of materials within the Scottish Screen Archive catalogue.

Around 100 films will be available to view online in the next few weeks, with 67 available to view now via the website. These include the last tram in Edinburgh in 1956, sausage making in the 1930s through to the story of Jean Cameron of Clova - a wartime postal worker who pioneered trousers for female posties!

UNESCO declared 27 October as the day to raise awareness of the importance of audiovisual documents to national identity and promote the fact that their preservation is vital, a campaign and philosophy which the National Library of Scotland passionately shares and supports.

Janet McBain, curator of the Scottish Screen Archive at the National Library of Scotland said: 'Our conservation work ensures old and often damaged film can be made available for future generations to enjoy when otherwise they may have been lost forever.

'For example, our footage of the earliest known wedding film, of the 4th Marquess of Bute to Miss Augusta Bellingham, which will be showcased in our new visitor facilities for World Audiovisual Heritage Day, took our dedicated team over three years to restore and produce for public view.

'Also, we are now in the first phase of our online digitisation programme that will enable even more people to enjoy footage from our archives through the website. The films we have begun transferring to online format are to reflect the topics most requested via the NLS website such as how we used to live, family history and transport and travel, to name but a few.

'Therefore this day is a fantastic opportunity to not only reveal some hidden audiovisual gems but also highlight the great care that goes into preserving material for public display.'

The Scottish Screen Archive has been part of the NLS collections since 2007 and is the country's national moving images collection. It preserves over 100 years of Scottish history on film and video and has a vital role to play in saving archive films for the nation.


National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge

Tel: 0131 623 3700


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21 October 2009

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