The Museum Film and Video Archive - February 1999 Issue

At present the Museum is trying to put together a video entitled "History of Aviation in Berkshire." Please read the following and if you can help please e-mail me.

(Supplied by Alan E Lott)

Last year I suggested to Jean and Ken Fostekew that I should take charge of forming a Film and Video archives for the Museum. This is to be based, initially, on the contents of the quantity of films that had remained dormant in the storeroom for some years because of lack of facilities and effort.

Almost simultaneously I was able to enlist the support of friends in the Reading Film and Video Makers (of which I was a founder member in 1957) to investigate the possibility of making a video of the History of Aviation in Berkshire for display and, hopefully, for sale in the Museum to help boost funds. It was hoped that some of the film in the Museum storeroom would be of pre-war Miles activities.

Inspection and listing of the 16 mm films has been undertaken at home where I have the necessary equipment for inspection and occasional repairs. The Wessex Film and Sound Archives at Winchester kindly allowed me to use their facilities to examine the small amount of 35 mm film also found at the Museum.

At the time of writing (first week in February) I have examined and produced a listing of 83 films, about 12,000 feet of film. I have about a another 4,000 feet to examine. The findings have been interesting but the disappointment is that nearly all of the films concern the Handley Page Dart Herald and I am now confident that remainder will not contain any Miles or pre-war film of Aviation in Berkshire. Therefore, in order to try and obtain such materials for the proposed Museum video the quest has had to be extended via letters in the local press, the magazine Amateur Cine Enthusiasts (for which I write articles) the Film and Video Maker and even an appeal on the Pam Ayres radio programme on Radio 2 on Sundays.

Visits by myself, Don Currie and Dennis Burke of the RFVM to the Wessex Archives and then Brooklands to see Julian Temple have to dates yielded nothing. I have been told by Peter Amos of the Miles Association that the films given to the RAF Museum at Hendon, which he has thoroughly inspected on Super VHS video seem to be virtually oddments collected from cutting room floor and of no use for our purpose. If so where are the completed films of which these are the "sweepings"?

I find it rather incredible that with some 20 airfields in pre-war Berkshire and the steady increase of amateur cine film on both 9.5 mm and Standard 8 mm films pre-war that no footage of aircraft in the county has come to light.

Attempts to use professional footage from commercial outlets have to be ruled out on the basis of copyright and fees charge. Recently Don Currie contacted the BBC to find out if we could use an extract from the Fat Ladies programme last year taken at a Northern Airshow which featured a Miles Magister. The extract would have been not more than two minutes, but the fee quoted was £450. As a result of further efforts by Don Currie this was reduced to £150 but obviously this sort of charge is out of the question for our venture.

Regarding the Handley Page films we have, Harry Fraser-Mitchell, Vice-President of the Handley Page Society, has kindly offered to help me identify the films which carry no dates, places or credits or titles. I have said that I shall be glad to accept his offer when I have finished listing the remaining films. I think that when time permits quite a good documentary video can be made of the Dart Herald, especially as our own display model, G - APWA, features in much of the footage.

This is the state of affairs early in February 1999.

It is my long some hope, similar to many other Museums, that we shall be able to install a video player and monitor to display tapes as an added attraction for visitors. Your assistance with videos and information will be appreciated.