Preserving past lives from Spalding area

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A ‘final performance’ being shown in Spalding on Saturday could be just the beginning.

Past Lives – South Holland on Film – is the culmination of a project to unearth home movies and get them digitised and then edited into a film.

However, the artists behind the project discovered some rare and possibly unique footage from the 1930s and maybe even the 1920s.

Just as exciting for the artists is that it is on extremely rare 16mm film.

Alongside typical family scenes there is footage showing something more idiosyncratic to this area, ice skating at Cowbit, as well as stubble burning, fishing in the Wash and the official opening of a bridge that once stood at the site of what is now called the ‘twin bridges’ in Spalding.

“The further back you go, the more likely you are to find things that are no longer around,” said Chris Ellis, one of the musicians working on the Past Lives project.

It was a collection of films taken to an open day at Ayscoughfee Hall Museum by Juliet and Ted Moat that caused such excitement.

The collection belonged to Juliet’s grandfather, Alderman Gooch, who it is believed was mayor of the town on five occasions.

It is all on 16mm film, which Chris says is of a much higher quality that the typical 8mm film used in the 1950s through to the 1970s.

The films show clips of fishing, punting and paddling as well as a sequence from the Wash that Chris believes would be of interest to the National Maritime Museum.

In the footage is a clip of the Pride of Welland, listed in the Royal Museums Greenwich collection as being made in 1915.

Chris said: “His descendants brought it in and they had had it in the loft. I really consider if of huge worth but they didn’t know what was on it.

“It was one of those wonderful moments during an open day. We had a lovely time at Ayscoughfee, and it was a bit quiet and then this family walked in and opened up these 16mm cans of film. You think ‘Has it gone past being able to be shown?’.”

In fact, it appears the family had caught the precious footage just in time before it would have been lost for ever.

The footage will be shown alongside clips from other contributed home movies in a 50-minute film at South Holland Centre on Saturday (3pm – tickets £7.50).

But Chris hopes that won’t be the end of the story.

He wants to learn more about some of the activities shown on the film from people in the audience and to generate interest among local people and history groups in making sure what has been discovered is preserved for the future.