River of Life

Right: Jordan’s Boatyard and the old Wye Bridge with Hereford Cathedral in the distance. Boating on the river was popular in Victorian and Edwardian times. Picture: Herefordshire Heritage Services, Herefordshire Council.

We are delighted to announce the return of the River of Life archive screening. This was one of the most successful events at the Festival last year, with an evening screening at The Courtyard and as a series of shorts shown before the main feature at Flicks in the Sticks venues.

Among the highlights were short films that took audiences straight back to Kington in the mid 1920s. Local cinema owner Mr Miller would on high days and holidays take his camera out on to the streets of Kington and then pull in audiences in the following week to see themselves on the big screen – much like the work of the Blackburn Edwardian film-makers Mitchell and Kenyon recently shown on the BBC. Thanks to Mr Miller we have preserved extraordinary feats from the Annual Sports Days. Who can forget the committed and dangerous tackling in the game of Motorcycle Football from 1926?

Now the search has begun for more films to show this year. Research is taking place in national and regional archives and in private hands looking for films from over 100 years of film-making.

So far we have found films made in the 1910s on street life and fairs in the centre of Hereford by the celebrated Alfred Watkins, an early pioneer of cinematography; on traditional cider making in the 1930s; on world renowned steam trains and old branch lines from the 1950s; on the natural history of the River Lugg; and on the ancient art of making a traditional coracle using willow, hazel and cowhide. A full programme of screenings at The Courtyard and the shorts programme at Flicks in the Sticks venues will be published nearer to the Festival dates.

We are always interested to hear about any films and videos made in the Herefordshire and south Shropshire areas. If you have any information, please contact Naomi Vera-Sanso on [email protected].

This project was part-financed by the European Union (EAGGF) and DEFRA through the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER+ Programme and funded in part by Screen West Midlands Regional Investment Lottery Fund with funds from the UK Film Council.

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