BFI Mediatheque at Bridgeton Library, Glasgow

Recently I went on a visit to the first ever BFI Mediatheque in Scotland, which is located in Bridgeton Library at the Olympia, Glasgow. The BFI Mediatheque is a free resource that lets you make new film discoveries and get reacquainted with old favourites, free of charge. All you need to do is log on to a viewing station and you can chose from a range of highlights from the BFI National Archive and partner archives across the UK.

Bridgeton Library

Bridgeton Library moved to its new home on the ground floor of the former Olympia cinema complex, back in December 2012. It is a bright and welcoming space, which has zoned areas, such as a training suite, children’s library and the BFI Mediatheque room. It also has a “Turning Pages” station, onto which the library is very keen to add local content, thereby encouraging the public to interact with new technology. Bridgeton is a deprived area on the east side of Glasgow, which is in the process of being re-developed and rejuvenated.

Photo of the Olympia Building, where Bridgeton Library is located.

Bridgeton Library at the Olympia, Glasgow, 2014.

BFI Mediatheque

The BFI Mediatheque @ Bridgeton Library was launched just over a year ago, with its official public opening being held on Friday 22nd February. It contains over 2,000 films, including a specially commissioned collection of Scottish film and television from the BFI National Archive and Scottish Screen Archive, covering more than 100 titles of Scottish interest. Highlights include street scenes in Glasgow from 1901, early colour footage of tartans from 1906 and 1950s colour travelogues recording Scotland’s epic landscapes.  A list of the Scottish Reels films is available, as well as a full list of film titles currently available to view in Mediatheques around the country. In addition, there is a hard-copy of the catalogue at Bridgeton Library.

In Bridgeton Library’s BFI Mediatheque in both the search and browse functions results from the Scottish Reels collection appears at the top, due to it being of more local interest. In total, there are 77 collections containing such items as feature films, TV programmes and documentaries. The BFI add 18 to 20 new items every 2 months and items can be suggested by users, as long as the material is British.

Photograph of one of the BFI Mediatheque viewing stations at Bridgeton Library

BFI Mediatheque at Bridgeton Library, Glasgow. 2014.

There has been a very good uptake for the Scottish BFI Mediatheque, but there is some room for improvement. Many researchers and students use the resource, especially those studying film and media. People find it easy to use the resource once they have a go. Even older people who do not have experience of using the internet can get to grips with the resource quickly. Some introductory workshops have been run and these have been very well received.

There is a real focus on getting more of the general public, and school children especially, to use the resource. With the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence in mind, work has been undertaken on the development of guides and resources for pupils, for example putting together WW1 resources for schools.

An events programme, called ‘Discover Film at Bridgeton Library BFI Mediatheque‘ has been running from November and finishes in June this year. This includes ‘Page to Screen’ held on the first Monday of the month to enable people to discover the secrets of great screen adaptations and the original works they are based on and ‘Reel Essentials’ held on the second Thursday of the month which introduces key moments, movements, themes and genres in British Film and Television. Unfortunately, there has not been as great a take-up as hoped so far. Another issue to be addressed is the filling of identified gaps in the collections, especially items on the local area.

Using the BFI Mediatheque

There are two main ways of using the resource.

  1. Browse archived collections. There is a brief biography for each item. You can view the item on the full screen or you can hit escape and do further research whilst watching.
  2. Detailed search – Filtering your search using basic or advanced terms. Title; Year; Director; Cast; Subject Term; Subject Region or nation.  Subject terms range from ‘Advertisements’ through to ‘Youth Culture’.

They also provide suggestions on what you might like to look at (‘Why not try…’).

The BFI Mediatheque room is built to BFI’s specification, with ten viewing stations available. In general, you don’t have to book to use a viewing station, but it may be best to if there is a group. Opening hours are the same as that for Bridgeton Library.

BFI Mediatheques give everyone easy access to a diverse range of film and television, in many cases rarely seen since their original release or broadcast. There are 8 BFI Mediatheques in the UK, each with their own collection of local interest brought together in partnership with local film archives. To find out where your nearest BFI Mediatheque is located and what collections they hold take a look on the BFI website.

Items of Scottish Interest in MediaHub

If you are not able to visit the BFI Mediatheque at Bridgeton Library or would like to see more items of Scottish interest then take a look at MediaHub’s Films of Scotland collection. This contains 125 items (50 hours in total) from the Scottish Screen Archive at the National Library of Scotland, some of which forms part of the Scottish BFI Mediatheque’s Scottish Reels collection. One of the most coherent local and national film collections in the UK, Films of Scotland charts the changing face of Scotland from the 1930s to 1982. One example is a film called ‘Scotland for Fitness‘ made in 1938 for the Empire Exhibition, part of a campaign to improve the fitness of the Scots.

Image showing a hill walker in a kilt walking along the banks of a loch. Taken from the short film 'Scotland for Fitness', shot in 1938.

Scotland for Fitness. Films of Scotland, 1938.

There are also items on Scotland found in other Jisc MediaHub collections. As the Commonwealth Games is taking place this year in Glasgow one particularly interesting item is a ‘Commonwealth Games Preview‘ from the ITV Late Evening News Collection, which reports on the 9th Commonwealth Games which was held in 1970 in Edinburgh.

Image of Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh just ahead of the 9th Commonwealth Games in 1970.

Commonwealth Games Preview. ITV Late Evening News, 1970.

There are a wealth of resources available on Scotland and the rest of the UK, which can be easily accessed. We hope that this post encourages you to go and visit one of the BFI Mediatheques, as well as explore more of what MediaHub has to offer.

Our 20th Century Industrial Heritage

Manufacturing Pasts

If you have an interest in the social history of 20th Century industrial Britain you will want to know about a  new set of resources recently released by the University of Leicester. Manufacturing Pasts is a collection of digitised material documenting the changing lives of  those working in factories after World War II. It contains an array of primary sources including photos, maps, factory plans, newspaper articles and audio interviews with the workers themselves.

Christmas celebrations, ‘J’ Department, N. Corah & Sons Ltd., 1960s
Manufacturing Pasts: University of Leicester

A set of learning materials has been created around these resources on themes encompassing de-industrialisation and urban regeneration.

Indian Visitors to the Corah Factory 1939
Manufacturing Pasts: University of Leicester

All the Manufacturing Pasts resources and the accompanying learning materials can be retrieved and browsed via Jisc MediaHub and are part of  My Leicestershire History, which can be viewed via our Explore by Collection page . Why not extend your search and explore other Jisc MediaHub collections which contain industrial heritage material?

Amber Films

Amber Films was set up in the North East of England in 1968 and has been producing documentaries and feature films since that time, many of which cover the effect of declining industries upon working-class communities.

Newcastle’s Quayside before redevelopment
Quayside: Amber Films 1979

‘Quayside was made in 1979 as an elegy to Tyneside  and was part of Amber’s campaign to preserve the industrial heritage of this area. It captures the mood and atmosphere of Newcastle’s Quayside and a way of  life now gone through combining oral accounts with a visual portrait of the old industrial architecture.

Films of Scotland

This wonderful collection contains a range of  films documenting life, industry and social change in Scotland from the 1930s until 1982.

‘Wealth of a Nation’ is one of seven films made for the 1938 Empire Exhibition. It looks at how the decline in heavy industry in Scotland after WWI resulted in the birth of new manufacturing industries and  how the ensuing social change  offered workers a different way of life, including time for leisure activities. This new golden age brought problems of its own as machinery replaced manual labour and jobs were cut.

Working men discuss the impact of new machinery on their jobs
Wealth of a Nation: Films of Scotland 1938

A few decades later a brand new factory was purpose built at Linwood, in the West of Scotland, for the manufacture of the Rootes Group’s Hillman Imp. ‘Rootes Group’  is a documentary film which tells the story of how this innovative car was created in the early 1960s  to rival the new Mini.

Manufacture of the Hillman Imp
Rootes Group: Films of Scotland 1963

New estates were built near the car plant to attract workers from nearby Glasgow, where unemployment was high. By 1966, however, the future looked bleak for many of those who had relocated to Linwood as 450 workers were to be made redundant. You can follow more stories like this in the Newsfilm collections:

The Newsfilm Collections

Explore our extensive Newsfilm Collection to research the history of different industries across the 20th C and into the 21st C.

The dying art of pottery making in Stoke-on-Trent
Pottery : ITV News 28-08-1978

This 1978 ITV newsclip shows how  the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke-on-Trent organised a display of pottery manufacturing to demonstrate rare skills which were disappearing in the area. Modernisation of the pottery industry, combined with global competition, led to a major decline in  the workforce. Although many potteries have been closed or bought out by foreign companies, there are still potteries which are thriving around Stoke-on-Trent.

Men searching for coal on spoil tips at Grimethorpe Colliery
Grimethorpe One Year On: Miners Strike Anniversary: Story 2: Channel 4 News 04-03-1986

The mining  industry  underwent radical change during the last half of the 20th C as coal stocks declined and foreign imports became cheaper. This culminated in the Miners’ Strike of 1984 which is arguably the bitterest UK labour dispute in living memory and has had not only a huge political impact but blighted communities permanently. In this clip  mining families from Grimethorpe Colliery reflect on the changes which have taken place as a result of the dispute.

The University of Brighton Design Archives

This special design archive contains images of artefacts which were products of British design between 1945-85. The collection contains material from the major post-war exhibitions as well as posters, product design images and photographs of British retail spaces. Part of the collection relates to manufacturing processes such as furniture, glass and printed textiles.

Whitefriars Stained Glass
University of Brighton Design Archives 1946

Whitefriars Glass was one of the most successful glasshouses in England, rising to prominence during the 19th C as the Gothic revival created a demand for stained glass. Some of the designs were created by William Morris and  other celebrated artists. The image above shows how design rolls were stacked on shelves for storage.

S. Clarkes and Sons, leather goods manufacture
University of Brighton Design Archives : 1947

This photograph, taken at the factory of S.Clarke and Sons in 1947, shows women machining and tying off trunk handles. There are many more images of leather luggage manufacture at this factory, with a proportion of tasks still done by hand.

 Royal Mail Film Classics

The GPO Film Unit were responsible for making many groundbreaking documentaries about British industries around the time of WWII. As well as  celebrated classics such as ‘Nightmail’ there are many other films portraying social change stemming from technological advancements which took place during 1930s  Britain.

A worker wears basic protective clothing while spraying cars with paint
Men In Danger : Royal Mail Film Classics 1939

‘Men in Danger’ resulted from a growing awareness that accidents occurred more readily among those carrying out repetitive tasks with potentially dangerous machinery. Until now there had been little regard for health and safety issues and working people were often exposed to risk. This beautifully crafted film shows the measures which could be taken to make the workplace safer.

A Steel Workers’ Brass Band
Spare Time : Royal Mail Film Classics 1939

‘Spare Time’ is a black and white film, made in 1939, which shows how people enjoyed their leisure hours. It looks at three communities from the steel, cotton and coal industries and observes how their different shift systems have had an influence on their activities.

North Highland College (Johnston Collection)

The Johnston Collection offers a unique glimpse into the lives of those around Wick before the Second World War. Many thousands of  archive photographs reflect the work and leisure activities of the community and show us fascinating details of industries which have long since gone.

Gutting the Herring
North Highland College (Johnston Collection) c1925

At one time the small town of Wick was the biggest herring port in Britain  but the industry began to decline in the 1930s as herring shoals became less common and faster transport links removed the need for salting and curing. The photo above shows James More’s herring curing station around 1925. The fish were gutted as soon as they were landed by girls who worked in “crews” of three; two gutters and one packer. If the fishing was heavy they worked on into the night in all weathers and open to the elements.

Miss Christine Gunn, Herring Queen in 1953 and her attendants
North Highland College (Johnston Collection) c1955

The herring industry was of such importance that for many years the community of Wick celebrated the summer ‘Herring Queen’ festival. This eventually stopped during the 1950s when the industry declined.

There are many more industries which can be researched through Jisc MediaHub, so why not take some time to explore our collections for material which interests you.

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