Scottish Screen Archive
Ruth Washbrook and Stewart Wilson
16th March 2011

Ruth Washbrook and Stewart Wilson gave a presentation on the Scottish Screen Archive to the Old Gala Club meeting in the upper Volunteer Hall on 16th March.

The Scottish Screen Archive,which is part of the National Library of Scotland, was set up in 1976 and the extensive collection of films gives a social history of Scotland since the 1890s.  Many of the films have been restored and donations to the Archive are welcome.

Early films were presented at fairs with power supplied by traction engine.

We were shown examples of these and footage of Hawick Common Riding in 1889, which was the work of a local film maker.  Also shown was a comedy from 1905 called “McNab’s Visit to London”.

When the 4th Marquess of Bute married in 1905 the event was captured on film and this was recently discovered in an attic at Mount Stuart, the family home.

Most early films have crowd scenes, which encouraged people to visit the cinema and early examples shown were Harry Lauder in Glasgow at the premiere of his film “Huntingtower” in 1928 and a Gala Day at Bo’ness in the same year.

Educational films were made in the 1940s and one example shown was children being instructed in the use of gas masks.  Films were used to promote places or publicity for fund raising and a 1931 film with synchronised sound encouraged donations to a children’s holiday charity.  In the 1950s and 60s product advertising was common in cinemas.

Amateur footage shot in 1936 on early 35mm film showed the launch of RMS Queen Mary and the projectionist demonstrated the comparison between original quality and what can be done with digital restoration.

Of particular interest during the evening were early films showing a Gala v. Hawick Rugby match in 1905,  a children’s Gala in 1917, the unveiling of the War Memorial in 1925 and the Braw Lad’s Gathering in 1952.  All of these illustrated a keenness for members of the crowd to get in front of the camera.

The presentation ended with Duncan MacRae reciting the “Wee Cock Sparra”.