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Film collections at LMA
Our film collections explore different aspects of London life – its architecture, people, open spaces, housing, transport and even civic administration. With the earliest dating back to the 1920s, these films showcase events such as the Lord Mayor’s Show, people such as Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale, and engineering feats such as the Barbican (re-developed following the devastation of the Blitz) and Hammersmith Flyover. Each provide a fascinating insight into the historical, social and economic issues that tested centuries of urban life in the capital and which ultimately culminated in the London we know today.
Some of the most interesting and intriguing screenings available to view, have come courtesy of a collection of educational videos made by the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) during the late 1960s through to the early 1980s. ILEA would make and broadcast educational programmes for the schools under its authority, and then transmit between 10am and 7.30pm to accommodate all school timetables. They used a converted school in Battersea to facilitate studios, rehearsal spaces and post production units, and would involve children and teachers from the inner London schools in the staging, camera work, and performing of the programmes so that they maintained relevance with the target audience.
The first transmission took place on 16 September 1969 and the Television Service ran until 1977, when ILEA was forced to re-think its direct broadcasting of the programmes due to rising cable network costs. They continued to produce the programmes but began to distribute them on video cassette, and schools invested in new VHS equipment to facilitate these changes. Those schools within the inner London area were able to buy or rent the films to show in their classrooms, and the videos were also distributed to schools across the country at a higher charge.
Following the disbanding of Greater London Council (GLC) in 1986 the records of the ILEA, along with other council documents and material administered by the GLC, was deposited at the Greater London Records Office (now LMA), and this collection forms the basis of the archive records still held here. The Battersea studios were eventually bought out by its employees in 1990 and the remaining material produced by the Authority has been deposited alongside the GLC collection at LMA.
These films are also available on our YouTube channel:
Amateur footage of the Lord Mayor's Show
This short, silent film of the Lord Mayor’s Show was deposited in 2014 after being discovered among the possessions of a great uncle of the depositor. It shows the procession moving through the heart of the City of London shot from a camera positioned on the first floor of an office building on the corner of Gracechurch Street and Lombard Street.
In the footage, members of the Armed Forces can be seen marching in formation followed by floats including some sponsored by the Worshipful Companies of Loriners and Glaziers. The themes highlighted by the floats include history, but also modern agriculture and home produce. The latter, in particular, is brought to life through the use of characters dressed as cheese, flour and bread. What is remarkable is how many people are in attendance, with the crowds packed into the narrow streets of the Square Mile.
This film documents the development scheme for a residential area in the City and the start of building works in the Barbican. Following the destruction to this area during World War II, the scheme aimed to provide about 7,000 people with flats and houses, as well as shops, schools and a wide range of cultural and other amenities.
Find out more about our online films
We have many films online, find us on YouTube and start exploring our film collection.