British Film Institute releases 600 newly digitised Coast and Sea films

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19 June 2017
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Cockling_at_Wells-next-the-sea-76876.jpg Cockling at Wells-next-the-Sea (1951) courtesy of East Anglian Film Archive available on BFI Player part of Britain on Film, Coast and Sea
A century of Britain's coastline is explored in a new film archive from the British Film Institute, which feature families enjoying coastal resorts, the country's bygone fishing industry, and coastal exploration.

A century of Britain's coastline is explored in a new film archive from the British Film Institute (BFI), which feature families enjoying coastal resorts, the country's bygone fishing industry, and coastal exploration.

The films, which cover the years 1898 to 2000, are taken from the BFI's national archive and are available (mostly) for free, via an interactive map.

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The Coast and Sea film collection charts Britain's changing relationship with our coastline, highlighting:

  • Activities and traditions
  • Trade and industry
  • Holidays and leisure
  • Local customs
  • Nature and conservation

Robin Baker, Head Curator, BFI National Archive said: “Britain on Film has been a transformative project for the BFI and our partner archives. It has demonstrated that millions of people across the UK want to engage with their film heritage.

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Comprising over a century of filmmaking, Britain on Film has highlighted some of the lesser known films from our collections, some of which not even curators had seen before, and provided them with audiences that are often bigger than on their first release.

There are over 600 newly added films, contextualised by curators, exploring lives led and holidays enjoyed around the UK coast. As such there are now even greater opportunities for people to while away hours watching and making discoveries about British film heritage”

Family Tree's Coast and Sea archive pick

Here are some of the team's favourite picks from the new films:

Butlins Opens at Minehead (1962, South West Film & Television Archive)

Butlin's Holiday Camp at Minehead in Somerset opened its doors in 1962. This is early film of its first vacationers. Butlins, which offered all-in holiday deals for the average family, was founded in 1936 when Billy Butlin opened his first resort in Skegness.
 
The Sea Breaks Free (1938, UEA’s East Anglian Film Archive)
 
Extreme weather and its aftermath; the North Sea breached the Norfolk coastline and the dune defences in Horsey in February 1938, flooding the town. Made by East Anglia Film, this film,long thought lost, is a local record of the aftermath of the storm damage and the work taken to restore the sea defences.
 
‘Rohilla’ Wrecked off Whitby (1914, BFI)
 
Extremely rare early actuality footage from one of Whitby’s most famous maritime disasters that befell the crew of the SS Rohilla, the First World War hospital ship which ran aground just 1 mile off the North Yorkshire coast, with the loss of 83 lives.
 
To start exploring the films, visit the Coast and Sea website.