Northern Ireland Screen's Digital Film Archive is a free public access resource for teachers, students, historians and anyone who has an interest in moving images. Spanning from 1897 to the present day, the films in the Digital Film Archive cover all aspects of life in Northern Ireland and includes everything from dramas to documentaries, newsreels and features, animation to amateur footage.
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Joe O’Neill demonstrates the magical alchemy of the forge in a film by Roy Spence created for the Ulster Folk Museum.
Documentary 1978 28 mins
From the collection of:
Enter the local forge built in 1830, now an active part of the Ulster Folk Museum. With each blow of the hammer imagine the rhythmic clink of the anvil and the creaking horse hide bellows stoking the fire. Joe O’Neill creates a clamp of earth and grass making wood and turf charcoal to supply a source of clean heat. Finally get a glimpse of the superstitions that surround the forge like going three times under the donkey’s belly followed by bread and jam to cure the whooping cough.
This version of the film is mute however the original soundtrack taught the history, tools and techniques of the blacksmith. As rural ways of life were engulfed by an ever more industrialised North the Ulster Folk Museum was born from a 1958 act of parliament. It continues to create a lively world of artefacts to preserve disappearing traditions for future generations. Twin brothers Roy and Noel Spence have been making films for over fifty years; with subjects including crafty leprechauns, creatures from outer space, and the undead. You can enjoy many of these fantastical creations and more of Roy’s craft documentaries on BFI Player. This film is courtesy of Roy Spence and is held in the Irish Film Archive.
Steel on Film
Pattern for Progress
Industry sponsored film 1948 42 mins Location: Ebbw Vale/Glyn Ebwy
The drama and spectacle of steelmaking at Ebbw Vale.
Industry sponsored film 1961 27 mins Location: Colchester
A rare insight into manufacturing in the 1960s, behind the scenes at Colchester Lathes' factory, whose engineers have earned a first class reputation both locally and overseas.
Ingot Pictorial No. 4
1949 18 mins Location: Ebbw Vale/Glyn Ebwy
RTB has lots to celebrate and Howard Marshall, director of personnel/public relations and the main Ingot Pictorial commentator, downs a pint in one on opening Ebbw Vale House.
Ingot Pictorial No. 6
1950 21 mins Location: Panteg
This Ingot Pictorial – a quarterly review of life inside and outside RTB steelworks – brings back memories of summer events (carnival, tennis, singing cousins) in December.
Lancashire Steel Corporation - Irlam Works
Industry sponsored film 1935 16 mins Silent Location: Irlam
Inside the steel works - come and take a close look at a very heavy industry.
Sad Day for Bilston
Documentary 1979 24 mins Location: Bilston
A steelworks and a workforce under the shadow of closure. Bilston faces a cold winter as it loses its traditional heavy industry.
Experiments in film by Brian Connolly
Animation & Artists Moving Image 1984 13 mins Silent Location: Belfast
Watch time becomes an artist's material as the city's landmarks star in a strange choreography of workers, shoppers and builders.
Ring of Cultra
Fantasy 1984 22 mins Location: Cultra
Why don't you come along to the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum? Remember, all you need to bring is a little imagination.
The Magic Man
Amateur film 1984 25 mins Location: Cultra
Grave-robbing, murder and villainy abound as a trickster brings his mind-reading act to a remote Irish village.
Spade and Scutch Mill in Cultra
News 1966 3 mins Silent Location: Cultra
Two industrious watermills compete for your attention in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
Ulster Folk Museum
Amateur film 1967 9 mins Location: Cultra
An ambitious folk museum brushes off the dust to bring the past to life.
News 1966 14 mins Silent Location: Cultra
See the tools in action that helped our farmers win back the soil from the weed and wilderness over generations.
Comedy 1919 35 mins Silent
A protective father masquerades as an automatic doll in this bonkers interwar comedy.
Spirit of Mayday
1937 11 mins Silent
May Day – a significant day for the labour movement – is covered by the cameras of the Film and Photograph League.
Cornelius Cardew 1936-1981
Performance 1986 55 mins
An exploration of the life and work of the controversial British composer.
1935 9 mins
Let it bleed? This exemplary education film gets to the heart of the matter.
U.A.B. (Workers Newsreel No.3)
Non-Fiction 1935 12 mins Silent
Punchy political film capturing mass protests against unemployment.
The Merry Month of May
1937 15 mins Silent
A spirited satire on the coronation of George VI made by members of the Film and Photograph League.
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