A NEWLY unearthed set of old films taken by an enigmatic Ripley entrepreneur could be among the rarest ever discovered of their type.
The set-of-four 90-year-old 35mm nitrate films were shot by John Marshall, from Clay Cross, who owned a hippodrome and zoo in Ripley during the early 20th Century.
His granddaughter Valerie Marshhall, from Main Road, Pentrich, had preserved the delicate rolls in biscuit tins in her garage but did not know what to do with them for years.
Now she has given them to the Leicester-based Media Archive for Central England (MACE), which restores and archives old films. It says they are among the ‘oldest and most important’ they have ever come across.
Valerie said: “My father had them for a long time stored away for years – when I found out about MACE I set about contacting them straight away.”
Valerie’s films showing rare footage of 1920s life in Ripley and even a large factory fire, have now been reunited with a fifth rarity filmed by Mr Marshall, and owned by Essex film collector Morace Park, 47.
He contacted the News in November in a bid to trace the history of one he had bought at auction showing All Saints’ Church in Ripley during a 1923 Remembrance Day service. Since being contacted by MACE, he has given them the film to restore and archive alongside Valerie’s.
Curator at MACE Kay Ogilvie said the five films are now being sent to the British Film Archive to be transferred to a safer type of film as nitrate rolls are highly flammable.
Due to their rarity, Mrs Ogilvie says they could be screened to the public.
She added: “What is most amazing about them is that they were filmed on 35mm – most amateurs used only 8mm cameras in those days. It may have been that Mr Marshall, being a cinema owner and a wealthy man, was just a keen cinematographer. He seemed like an amazing man really.”
Mrs Ogvilie has called on anyone else in the Midlands to donate any old film they may have in lofts or garages to MACE. The organisation works to restore them and place them on DVD for the owner to watch. To contact MACE, call 0116 252 5066 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.