The collection of 13,000 feet of dusty 16mm films was acquired in August 1996, from when the long and arduous task of researching its background began. The collection was named "The Alexander Archive" after the postal name "Alexander" on the boxes of films.


All the film reels were found in their original labelled Kodak packaging, all dated and showing every year for over 30 years of Miss Alexander's film work.

After lying in a dark attic for so many years, light finally past through the film once more, illuminating the people from the past on a hand-wind Murphy Editor. "It was like watching a family in the 1930s through a hole in the hedge."


In 1997 a very basic restoration program was carried out. The films were cleaned and checked over for damaged sections which could be removed. Then it was telecine-transferred, producing a rough video print for viewing and research purposes.


The long and tedious task of restoring and digitally tranferring the Archive properly began in June 2002 - it took 2 months to complete, ready for the BBC documentaries.

The film went through an intense stage of restoration. A "hi-tech" cleaning and restoration unit was devised to clean and repair the film at the Studios.  It was nick-named the "Raspberry Blower" because of the noise it made as the film passed through.


Restoring the cinefilm required patience, skill and teamwork. Producer Stef Bate and production assistants Ange Davies and Jan Foulke spent over 8 weeks working with the unit on the difficult task of cleaning and repairing damaged sections of the film.


Jan inspected film for damage, carefully logging the essential repair and condition details of each of the reels.


Every joint and damaged perforation had to be repaired before digital telecine-transferring could take place.




This involved 3 weeks of intensive telecine-transfer to DVCam tape by the team, creating 9 hours of finished video footage. The footage was then digitally transferred into the non-linear edit suite.


Each scene was painstakingly light-corrected and mirror-flipped back over before finally being mastered down to DVCam tapes. These tapes were then ready for the BBC Series producer Peter Trollope and team at Crosgrove Hall in Manchester to use for the final broadcasted program.


Accompanying the film archive there is also a small collection of period photographs.  These have been beautifully restored using digital technology by imaging assistants Janie Chaloner and Vikki Lane. 






16mm Film Archive
Restoration, Telecine Transfer & Digital Editing