Now that we can begin working in Dean Clough again, be it with ‘social distancing’, the big clear up has started. Several collections arrived within weeks of each other and then with ‘lockdown’ they all had to be left where they were, which was in the main entrance. We are down to just three pallets left to go through.
We are looking at holding the delayed AGM at the end of October and it is vital from a health and safety point of view that the main entrance corridor is clear of pallets and equipment. Several machines which did not reflect British cinema installations have been moved on to other collections to make space for more relevant and important ones. Plus, duplicate machines have also been moved on but nothing ended up in a skip. Now we pay for storage we cannot take on more than we have space for, which used to happen in Bletchley. At least now anything we do have is not rotting away due to rain pouring in through the roof. Our problem is dust, where does it all come from? At least it does not damage projectors.
We recently acquired a display case which although too small for 35mm equipment, unless you put a splicer or some such in, proves a nice focal point for some narrow-gauge ephemera. Although we hold mostly 35mm equipment in Halifax we do have a large collection of 16mm films and some larger (pedestal type) 16mm projectors. However, we do have some 9.5mm and 8mm films and equipment which we use as talking points when at public exhibitions since many visitors remember the equipment their father or grandfather had to show family holidays on.
We have now almost completed our clear out and clean up in readiness for the crowds attending the up and coming AGM. It is always very difficult, when having to move some equipment on, but whenever we do we try and ensure that it is going to a good home and not some dealer who wants to move it on for a quick profit.
Sometimes when we get a donation of a really good example of a machine that we already have we let the poorer example go. This way it saves us a lot of time with restoration, and if we keep the other machine (usually incomplete), we will strip it down for parts which often helps other members restore machines they are working on.
Archivist Tom has certainly had his work cut out in sorting and cataloguing all the books, manuals, and films but he looks to be getting his head above the pile of boxes as can be seen from the images.
Allan and Jacob have been toiling with the pair of Kalees in the projection room and hopefully getting them to run as smoothly as they used to. The pair is made up of bits from all over the place and never ran in a cinema as one machine. A real scrapheap challenge for the guys but nice to rescue another Kalee set.
And, below, getting my car ready for a trip to Elstree.
When most members hear the word ‘archive’ they think of filing cabinets full of paperwork. However, that is only part of the story. The paper archive consists of equipment drawings, manuals, publicity pamphlets and photographs, all of which require filing in different sections. Then there are the magazines and periodicals followed by various books and annuals.
Similarly, equipment has to be sorted and logged. Projectors are easy to do but the ancillary pieces such as lenses, lamps, and mirrors are not so straight forward. For example, lenses have to be not only set out in their various sizes but also in quality . There are the newer ones that we can use for screenings and being made by Schneider or Isco are arranged in 5mm increments. Then there are the older ones used for authenticity on restored machines and being made by Taylor Hobson or Ross are in ¼ inch steps. Following from the backing/prime lenses are the anamorphics, both prismatic and cylindrical.
I have made a start on sorting and cataloguing all the 35mm film we have. Having spent a long time in D-Block at Bletchley many of the cans are affected by rust and have to be prised open and often then thrown away. To date I have managed to discover that we have several complete features and many part features. Hopefully, as I dig deeper we can put together more. Then there are reels and reels of shorts followed by hundreds of trailers.
So far, I have spent the last two years doing this and there is no end in sight. Having said that one of our aims is to make the archive accessible to researchers as soon as possible as there is no point in having an archive if it is not. In issue 159 of Rewind I posted a picture of some unsorted cans of film, which had in fact come up from Deluxe. Well an eagle eyed member at the BFI recognised some of the cans marked 47467*G as one of their features missing since 1999. The film was in fact Splendour in the Grass and disappeared after a screening in Derby.
They then contacted us and we searched the archives to see if the rest of the copy was there, as in the photograph there were only two reels. I am pleased to say we did have the complete feature - be it in various places on the shelves - and were able to reunite the copy with its rightful owner.