Video thumbnail, Old Holmfirth film
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An historic film of Holmfirth is to have its first screening in over a century at the Picturedrome cinema.

A can of old film discovered recently in the store of the Helen J Bray Studio, the professional photographers in the town, turned out to include a unique 35mm film of the town.

Helen said: “This roll of film has been in our studio for as long as I’ve been alive but I had forgotten all about it.”

When Holmfirth Film Festival heard of the find it offered to pay the costs of the film’s restoration.

Local film historian Heather Norris Nicolson and film-maker Tim Copsey quickly realised this would be a major task.

Tim said: “The film was in an advanced state of deterioration and had become quite sticky. What was alarming was that it was a nitrate film which can be highly flammable.

“These films have been known to suddenly explode into flame and have led to major fires. It is classified as ‘dangerous goods’ and requires specialist handling and storing.”

Expert handling was sought from the Yorkshire Film Archive (YFA) which helped enormously in arranging for the film to be restored and scanned by the British Film Institute in London and digitally transferred.

Helen visited the Archive to discuss the restoration of the film which records a parade in the town. She said: “It’s so exciting seeing Holmfirth coming alive like this.”

Founded in 1917 by Helen’s grandfather Harry Bray, the studio is approaching its 100 year anniversary with four generations of Brays as professional photographers.

Heather worked closely with the YFA to find out more about the film’s history.

She said: “Discovering film that dates from before the First World War is really fascinating. These crowded scenes offer a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of Holmfirth before the First World War.”

Working on the historic film shot in Holmfirth around 100 years ago

“The film-maker, possibly from local film studio Bamforth and Co, captured a real sense of occasion with people wearing smart clothes, women in large brimmed hats, boys in plus fours grinning at the camera.

“We now need all our combined skills to trace what that important occasion was. This will be quite an adventure.”

Stephen Dorril, a senior lecturer in the journalism department of Huddersfield University, said: “It’s about 12 minutes long. It’s enthralling and very well done. I’ve seen it on a small computer screen.

“It shows a big march of Methodists in Holmfirth in 1910 and will probably have last been screened at Holme Valley Theatre (the precursor to the Picturedrome) around 1912.”

Megan McCooley, Moving Image Archivist at the YFA, said: “This was a really great opportunity to work together to publicise the work, preserve this important content and have this fantastic new content screened in the place where it was filmed over 100 years ago.”

After restoration and digital copying the original film has been sent to a special conservation regional facility run by the British Film Institute where nitrate films are stored.

The digital copy (film) will be held by the archive and will be available in the future for study and use by film historians and for public screenings.

The film will be screened at the Holmfirth Picturedrome on Monday, (18 May) at 7.30pm.

Further details available on www.holmfirthfilmfestival.co.uk .