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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 23:57 GMT
Rare footage shows Edwardian life
Boer War hero Clive Wilson
Boer War hero Clive Wilson was filmed by Mitchell and Kenyon
Film footage dating back 100 years and found in a shop basement is to be shown by the BBC for the first time.

The films by Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon were found by historian Peter Worden in Blackburn, Lancs, in 2002.

The 800 reels give an unparalleled visual record of late Victorian and early Edwardian British life.

A crime reconstruction from 1901 and the first footage of Manchester United in action, from 1902, were discovered among the 26 hours of film.

There is also footage of the last soldier to receive the Victoria Cross from Queen Victoria herself.

The collection, which has been hailed as helping to re-rewrite British film history, was restored by the British Film Institute (BFI) after lying unseen for 80 years.

The reels were uncovered three years ago when workmen clearing out a derelict shop in Blackburn, the town where Mr Mitchell and Mr Kenyon lived, found a stash of sealed barrels that were destined for the skip.

However, when they were opened by local film historian Mr Worden, he realised their significance.

Factory and family

The three-part Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon combines the restored archive footage and interviews with the descendants of those filmed.

The films look at the lives of some of the men and women from the mills and factories, researching their stories and uncovering their working conditions as well as their home lives.
On board the Cunard, Liverpool (BFI)

The films also show the lives of children, from the Blackburn children working their mornings in the mills, to the scholarship children at Blue Coats School in Birmingham.

The second episode, featuring the footage of Manchester United, reveals how new leisure time swelled the crowds at sporting events, and how extra money allowed people to holiday in places such as Blackpool for the first time.

It also shows how the rugby and football leagues became professional, and records the growing importance of the northern teams.

1901 'Crimewatch'

The third programme shows what is thought to be the first crime reconstruction film - the arrest of a bank embezzler.

It shows how the police force was becoming professional, as well as the strength of religion at the time.

Mr Mitchell and Mr Kenyon were also working with showmen and commissioners and making popular fiction films, including Boer War dramas.

The archive features real-life Boer War heroes - contrasting the stories of Clive Wilson from a wealthy ship-building family with Private Ward, VC, from Leeds.

The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon is a co-production between the BBC and BFI and will be shown on BBC Two on Friday, 14 January at 2100 GMT.


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