Western Film Archive was founded as a not–for–profit initiative in 1987 by Martin Parry; to collect, preserve and make available audio-visual material from Wiltshire and the Centre West of England. Soon afterwards Sir David Puttnam became the Archive’s honorary patron.
A major component of the Archive at the outset was the Swindon Viewpoint collection, a large body of community television recordings from the 1970s and 1980s that is unparalleled anywhere else in Britain for its focus and depiction of local everyday life and culture, and its open access principles. In view of this, the Archive decided to use Swindon Viewpoint as its distribution platform and a new web television service under the Viewpoint rubric was inaugurated in 2009: www.swindonviewpoint.com
Here you can find not only the original Swindon Viewpoint material (or the fraction that has so far been digitised), but also a significant amount other archive material from the area that has been collected and digitised over the years (as resources allowed). The earliest of these is a local film from 1913 (over a hundred years old and produced only a few years after cinematography was invented) from inside the Great Western Railway Works, but there are also films representing the 20s, 30s and indeed every other decade since. So far over 1000 films have been digitised and are available online. They are an invaluable resource to Schools and History groups and for medical Reminiscence Therapy.
The archive depends on public support in a time of austerity, and donations of time, money and materials – so progress in collecting and digitising assets has inevitably been slower than we would wish. Furthermore another major aim of Western Film Archive is to document significant cultural events in our area for posterity and the Archive’s future public history stock – thus stretching our slender resources further still. Nonetheless we have to date managed such initiatives as intensive coverage of ‘The Big Arts Day‘ held in 2010 at Lydiard Park in Wiltshire and Swindon Shuffle, for example, as well as numerous others (the results are viewable on the website), and have managed to equip for such purposes with High Definition video.
We are always looking for volunteers to help us with this work and help spread understanding of our rich and diverse audio-visual heritage. We endeavour to initiate suitable awareness projects, particularly with young people and the elderly, but also with the general public.
If you are able to contribute to or support this work, either with time, money or materials, please email firstname.lastname@example.org