Peek into Buxton’s past with cine film project

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. Taken circa 1967, John Morten.
A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. Taken circa 1967, John Morten.

A unique and one-off screening will show life in Buxton from the 1930s onwards, made up entirely of donated cine footage from residents.

The Past Lives Project has collected the iconic moments of the town, from a lorry driving into a shop in the 1950s to the last steam train to pass through the station, to the humble village fete and walks around the Pavilion Gardens.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. Kathryn Grzegorzek has submitted footage from circa 1970.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. Kathryn Grzegorzek has submitted footage from circa 1970.

Chris Ellis, a historian and musician working on the venture, said: “We are at a period in time where people no longer have the facilities to watch old cine film and we don’t want this footage to be lost forever.”

The project is funded by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund and the aim is to digitise and archive donated footage for future generations.

The best of the film footage is being turned into a 45 minute never-before-seen production with a live score performed by musicians from St Thomas More School.

A 1920s surrealism inspired track has been written to accompany the piece and Chris said it has been interesting hearing people’s thoughts on what kind of music best sums up the footage.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. Footage taken circa 1940 and submitted by Peter Hilton.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. Footage taken circa 1940 and submitted by Peter Hilton.

“This screening is our way to give something back to everyone who has donated film and it is so exciting to have live music to accompany it.”

This is the sixth of eight projects across the Midlands to document life in bygone times, other projects have taken place in Bolsover, Ironbridge, Nottingham, Mansfield, Derby, Ilkeston and South Holland.

“For us, Buxton is very special,” said Chris, “so much has been done to preserve the old buildings that in some respects it is very easy to see where footage was taken.

“However, on the other hand people have donated film of Fairfield before it had houses on, so it is great to see the changes there.”

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. From 1977, submitted by Anne Sleigh.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. From 1977, submitted by Anne Sleigh.

Working with Media Archive for Central England, MACE, in 2011-12 artists and musicians from FreeFall Arts created and toured Past Lives Film from home cinefilm footage of the Midlands.

The 2011-12 tour was incredibly successful that the Past Lives Project was invited by Arts Council England to create a touring film and music participatory project, and working with funding from Heritage Lottery Fund the project aims to highlight the need to preserve cinefilm which is rapidly deteriorating and to encourage the public to be creatively engaged with heritage and the arts.

Film donated to the project has been digitised and stored at MACE. Photographs will be digitised and stored at Picture the Past. A digital archive of the project including films, photos and oral history will be available online and Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

Chris said: “To buy film for your camera was very expensive and so people thought more about the shots they wanted to capture.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. Taken in 1972 and submitted by Anne & Ken Gould.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. Taken in 1972 and submitted by Anne & Ken Gould.

“It has been a great honour to be let in to people’s lives and see what was important enough for them to film.”

The project first started in Buxton at the Reminiscence Vintage cafe at the United Reform Church Hall back in July 2015.

In November and December last year an exhibition was held at Buxton Museum based on the project archives and artistic responses.

Now everything is been given the final once over ready for the performance on Saturday, March 5 at St John’s Church.

Chris added: “It would be great to see lots of people there, this is your history, your town and this will be the only chance you get to see a one-of-a-kind screening.”

• Doors open 6.45pm on Saturday, March 5. Screening starts 7.15pm.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. Taken in 1972 and submitted by Anne & Ken Gould.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. Taken in 1972 and submitted by Anne & Ken Gould.

Tickets £8.50/ £5.50 concessions available from Tourist Information in the Pavilion Gardens.

Refreshments will be served.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. This was taken in 1968 and submitted by Helen Bradbury.

A screengrab from some of the donated cine footage submitted by residents as part of The Past Lives Project. This was taken in 1968 and submitted by Helen Bradbury.