Help sought to identify mystery film footage from 1930s to 1950s Sheffield

Mystery reels of cine film donated to a group of historians have revealed fascinating social history about 1930s to 1950s Sheffield.

By Sally Burton
Tuesday, 30 April, 2019, 11:09
Do you recognise any of these women?

Now digitalised for modern viewing, the films featuring people, places and events are to be opened up to the public in a bid to find more out about them.

Those who go to any of a number of planned showings, will enjoy glimpses in to the past that would otherwise have been forgotten, said Jennifer Morton, Chair of Hillsborough and Owlerton History Society.

Seaside outing, but who are these women?

An incredible range of footage depicts Whit Walks along Penistone Road, a sports event at Bradfield, May Queens and Sunday School Queens, maypole dancing, a walk through Hillsborough and much more.

Works and businesses long gone can be seen in the background, and fashions are of interest in themselves.

“These films are just incredible and so revealing,” enthused Jennifer.

“We were given them by a man who found them when he was renovating a loft in Hillsborough some years ago. He had moved away from Sheffield but saw our website and decided to donate them.

A procession still taken from the film footage

“They are brilliant. We can’t believe the quality of the content. All we need now is a lip reader to tell us what is being said.

“The cine films are above average quality for their time.

“We were able to have them digitalised at York Digital Archives thanks to a grant of £8,000 that we applied for from National Lottery funds. We added £250 ourselves.

“It’s been so exciting. Now they have been processed the films are really brought to life.

Still of a face from the Hillsborough cine films' footage

“It’s the people within them that we are most interested in, rather than the places. We want to know their stories and hope that people will come and see them and maybe be able to tell us some facts.”

The official launch of the films project, named Hillsborough and Owlerton Retale, is at 7pm on May 2, at the Hillsborough Sports Arena, Middlewood Road.

Anyone can go along to see the films, for free.

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Each film has around 30 minutes’ footage. One has been edited and condensed to make for easier viewing.

Could this young woman be one of your relatives?

“We can learn so much from them, said Jennifer.

“There’s an event in the Vicarage garden at Owlerton and a piano has been brought outside – apparently that was common practice.

“And there were so many people on the Whit Walks, all dressed up. Everyone looks so happy.

“This was all before the NHS of course, and there’s no regard to health and safety.

“You can see a young person walking round with a huge urn of tea at one event, and see people washing up in this big pot of water.

“Then there’s the clothes they wore. You can plainly see a woman wearing a fox fur around her neck. That wouldn’t be tolerated these days.”

Mystery face from the film footage

She continued: “It would be wonderful is people recognised anyone i n the films. There are day trips out to Skegness and Cleethorpes...you can see Cleethorpes boating lake.

“We have been in touch with Christ Church at Wadsley Bridge as the Bishop of Sheffield is seen there in 1933 at the dedication of the choir vestry.”

Further free viewings of the films are on May 31, June 28 and July 26, from 2-4pm at the Community Room in Morrisons’ supermarket, Hillsborough.

They will be shown at Tapton Congregational Church on July5 from 1pm to 2.15pm, within Crosspool Festival, and at the Virgin Lounge, Sheffield, on July 17, from 2pm.

The group is willing to show the films on request, call 07944 857015 for details. Offers of lip reading services would also be welcomed.

Parade taking place - do you recognise the location?