Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale
It started as a passion project with the first interview shot in 2013,
now finally complete as a two part feature length documentary.
About the 'RKL' film project
Community history from Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria
Kirkby Lonsdale's my home town. Growing up there I was
fascinated by the stories of older generations... days of horsepower and steamtrains, poverty and hardship but also the great affluence of Underley: Kirkby's 'Downton Abbey'. As a filmmaker I had to find the time to listen and record.
'Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale' captures stories of this small market town in the 1930s & '40s, as remembered by eight of the town's oldest residents. Public screenings have entertained hundreds and helped raise thousands for local charities. Together these two films paint a vivid, humbling and entertaining picture of what life was like before postwar modernisation.
Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale - pt.1
Part One – 67 minutes
...and the Maryport Cinefilms
In the 1930s a chemist from Maryport had a fascination with shooting 16mm cinefilm.
90 years later a dusty box of his reels were brought down from an attic nr Leeds and entrusted to me...
The DW McVitie Cinefilms
The only known films of Maryport town in the 1930s
I'd been knocking on doors, researching for the Maryport oral history project. When the Greggains family told me they had some old films in a cousin's attic, I couldn't imagine what a treasure was about to be revealed. Collecting them some weeks later I took the reels to a specialist technician for frame-by-frame scanning in HD to capture every detail. The results were stunning, and thanks to additional funding they're now available for all to see online. Meanwhile the original celluloid reels are preserved in the climate controlled vaults of the north West Film Archive.
Funded by Historic England and Allerdale Borough Council.
Excerpts from some of my other community heritage film projects...
Memories of VE Day
Community heritage short film (2020)
Several people share their memories of 1945 and the end of WW2. Part of a proposed sequel project to 'Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale'
filmmaker John Hamlett and Memoirfilms
Filming memoirs is my speciality and a passion. I graduated in documentary arts at Northumbria University in 1996, where my projects focused on personal histories – the sort of stories people tell, rather than the sort historians write. Since university I've spent over 25 years creating digital media and video (www.lunar.co.uk). I've worked on film commissions all over the UK including heritage work for The National Trust and The Yorkshire Festival of Story as well as projects funded by Historic England, The Lottery Heritage Fund and Yorkshire Dales National Park. I've also made short films like The POW that have screened at film festivals from Keswick & Dublin to Bucharest & Moscow, winning awards in the UK, Germany, Russia and Canada.
I live with my family near Kirkby Lonsdale, between the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District.
When a close aunt died I realised I'd missed my chance to hear so many stories about her life... if only I had taken the time. So I started taking the time, capturing the unexpected life stories of people I wanted to know better. Even filming my mum and dad surprised me, with so many fascinating things about them, entire episodes of their lives, that I hadn't really known.
I started filming locals in their 80s and 90s: George had been a merchant sailor fighting off U-boats in WW2, Audrey a district nurse, Joan an ATS sargeant who'd driven trucks through the blitz... and all shared childhood memories of my home town in the 1930s. It really impressed upon me how valuable these sort of stories are, not just for people's families but for their wider communities. 'Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale', The first Memoirfilms project, was born.
Commission your film
Please get in touch if you have a special person you want to capture for your family or your community. Filming needn't involve lots of preparation or upheaval - it can be kept as simple and unobtrusive as an afternoon's chat over a cup of tea!
I handle everything: filming, editing, research, archive content etc... and for community groups I can help with publishing and screenings, or just provide advice or training if you want to do the recording yourselves. Funding is for communities is readily available through heritage grants and local community trusts.
Filming these stories doesn't need to take long, yet it does mean their magic is saved for others, forever.
Let me help you capture these stories before it's too late.
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