DOWN MEMORY LANE County’s rich heritage captured on film – and now preserved for future generations

Since 1896, ‘moving pictures’ have been made in Sussex. Their story, and that of the film archive which preserves them, is the subject of a special Sussex Day presentation by archivist Alan Readman at West Sussex Record Office in Chichester on Thursday, June 16 at 2.30pm.

The Record Office is the Repository and Conservation Centre of Screen Archive South East, the Regional Film Archive which has its headquarters at the University of Brighton.

It was established in 1992 and works with a range of partners to preserve and provide access to film made in or about West and East Sussex, Kent and Surrey.

It now houses more than 10,000 films at the Record Office.

There is a diverse range of material including newsreels, family footage, feature films, travelogues and amateur productions. It provides a rich and varied representation of the history and everyday life of the region during the 20th century.

The south coast was popular with early film-makers in the 1890s and early 1900s and some of the most influential pioneers had links with Hove, Brighton, Shoreham, Worthing and Bognor.

Rare footage from these early films will be shown, together with selections from films of amateur cinematographers working in the county in the 1920s and 1930s, plus information films made during the second world war and clips from local films of the 1950s and 1960s.

Magnificent men in their flying machines, steam railways, old-style farming on the Sussex Downs, holiday fun at seaside resorts, marching with the county regiment, vintage buses and fire engines, royal occasions, nostalgic views of towns and villages, even unique footage of Dad’s Army at Chichester, will all be featured in a packed programme.

And technical staff will be available so if you have old films of your own, and don’t know what to do with them, take them along with you for advice and inspection.

But if you think you might have nitrate films – that is 35mm film dating back before 1951 – then first ring the Film Archive for guidance on 01243 753624.

This is one of the events for Sussex Day organised by West Sussex County Council.

Since its launch in 2007, Sussex Day, June 16, has become a popular way for residents of Sussex to celebrate their county’s rich heritage. 

The date, June 16, was chosen because it is St Richard’s Day – which marks the life of St Richard, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1245 until his death in 1253.

* West Sussex on Film is presented at West Sussex Record Office in Orchard Street, Chichester, on Thursday, June 16 at 2.30pm.

Tickets, bookable in advance, can be obtained from the Record Office, by telephoning 01243 753602 or emailing records.office@westsussex.gov.uk