Me and Sarah (the Borough Archivist) made a trip over to MACE a couple of weeks ago to drop these films off and Phil kindly projected some of the films for us there and then. First up was a black and white film with a soundtrack about the glass industry in Britain. After a loud blast of the orchestral soundtrack music and the clipped Queen's English commentary, it became apparent that this film may have been a professional mini-documentary that could have been screened at cinemas in the 1940s/1950s during the interval of a feature film , for example. It is unclear whether any of the filming took place at the Spon Lane or Malvern glass works but it seems very likely, given that Chances were the main producers of most glass products.
We then viewed a silent documentary/instruction style film specifically on the manufacture of Chances' laboratory glass Hysil. The tin container had a large sign 'DO NOT OPEN' and it soon became apparent why. This particular film was in quite a bad state with a few tares and at one point the projection was upside down due to an earlier careless repair. After a few tweaks and repairs from from Phil, the film was back to normal and could be projected with hardly a noticeable trace of the damage. There were many films specifically related to production at Chances including continual footage of machines operating and of female workers doing specific tasks when making and packaging laboratory glass. Whilst performing these tasks, a tiny clock was displayed at the bottom of the screen to show how long it was taking. Aside from a shy glance up at the camera and an occasional re-adjustment of their curls and Marcel waves, the ladies showed no sign of nervousness, even though their work was being scrutinised.
The main treat of the day, however, was the aforementioned footage of the King and Queen. Whilst this footage was also silent, we were all surprised to see that half of the film was done in colour. According to Phil, this kind of colour footage of royal visits is quite rare and I have to say, I was quite pleased to see Elizabeth sporting a very fetching shade of Lavender! We were happy to leave these films in the capable custody of MACE, where they will be cared for properly and can be accessed in the future. We are also looking in to having some of the films transferred on to DVDs so that we can access the footage on-site here in Smethwick. After crossing the film reels off my mammoth to-do list I had a nasty shock last week whilst cataloguing the lighthouse records. Hiding under some catalogues and brochures was a 16mm sound reel titled 'Lighthouse Story 1', pictured below. It looks like I might have to make another trip up the M69!