Report by Sandra Millsopp
Nostalgia was the theme of the meeting of Bangor Historical Society held on 12 January 2012. Francis Jones from the Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive showed a series of pictures of Ulster.
He began by explaining that the archive was set up in 2000 and contains about 60 hours of film. The Lumiere brothers were responsible for the earliest film camera. By 1896 they had taken pictures of Dublin. In 1897 they travelled north to Belfast and we were shown their short, silent film of Castle Place. Horse-drawn trams and other vehicles filled the cobbled streets. Another part showed the Queen’s Bridge with masts of nearby ships and a distant view of the Albert Clock. The final segment showed the fire brigade leaving the station in Chichester Street.
The first film shot by an Irishman dates from 1898. He filmed the Bangor Yacht race. Next we were shown film of the Titanic leaving Belfast for Southampton and her maiden voyage. There was also film of Captain Smith & of icebergs in the area of the sinking.
Next we viewed scenes from an Irish travelogue of the 1930s. These included the Glens of Antrim, the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Portrush. Other places included the City Hall in Belfast. Scenes at Bangor included Wilson’s Point and diving at Pickie Pool.
The commentary called Bangor “Belfast’s Blackpool”. Another film from the period featured TT racing
Then we moved on to the 1940s and a propaganda film of 1944 called “Ulster at Arms”. It featured various aspects of the war effort such as farming, armaments manufacture and the production of parachutes in linen factories.
Film from the 1950s included a parade of elephants from a circus through the streets of Londonderry. Scenes from Smithfield market showed shops and local characters.
Of particular interest to members were the colour scenes from the 1959 film “The day we went to Bangor”. Early in the film there were shots of UTA buses, the old Queen’s Quay station and the diesel trains on the Bangor line. Then various scenes in the town were shown: Main Street, the McKee Clock, the gas works, Barry’s and the sunken gardens. Visitors enjoyed the amusements on the pier.
Land of Magic (watch the video on British Pathe website) We were shown scenes such as Newcastle, the North coast and Donaghadee.
At the end of his talk Mr. Jones explained that very few of the films were on the internet because of copyright reasons. It was, however, possible to view them at several location including the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Details are on the archive website. Moira Neill conveyed the thanks of members for a fascinating evening.