Vintage footage of Ely from British Pathe film archives opened to the the public
ARCHIVE video footage of Ely which dates back more than 100 years has been made available to the public.
Dozens of ancient newsreels held in the British Pathe film archive have been published online to give residents a fascinating insight into history.
At the click of a button, people can witness historic shows about Ely Cathedral and Cambridge University boat rowers training along the River Great Ouse.
They can also take a glimpse into a bygone age by watching skaters on ice-covered Fens in Littleport and documentaries which examine Oliver Cromwell’s house in the centre of Ely.
British Pathe general manager Alastair White said: “The response we have had from the general public is phenomenal. We have found people really enjoy looking at the films.”
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The footage was originally played as news clips in UK cinemas between 1896 and 1976 before television took over as the primary source of news bulletins.
Access to the valuable video library was previously limited to researchers and documentary makers who paid for the privilege and could access British Pathe’s film bank in London.
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However residents in Ely and surrounding areas can now search the archive from the comfort of their own homes and access hours of footage with a quick internet search.
Waiting for them is a silent movie about a new ice skating record being set on a frozen Fen in Littleport during a competition in 1929.
A documentary about Ely Cathedral shows shots of its 12th Century tower and also Oliver Cromwell’s birthplace during the Second World War, whereas sporting enthusiasts can watch Cambridge University rowing teams race between Littleport and Adelaide Bridge in preparation for their big contest with Oxford in 1937.
However British Pathe admits there are still gaps in its comprehensive library.
The company’s film buffs confess some details on certain movies are sketchy and that Ely natives watching the footage might be able to fill in the blanks.
Many have already got in touch to add information to their database and correct details printed on the website www.britishpathe.co.uk.
Mr White said: “We are asking for local people who are much more knowledgeable than we are to let us know if they can add any information.
“The more data we have, the more use it is to people.”