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BBC's Countryfile reveals Holmfirth's film making roots
James Bamforth taking a photograph in his studio
Photography and filming was at the heart of Bamforth's business

The role of Holmfirth in the growth of the British film industry in the early 20th century comes into focus as the town features on the BBC's Countryfile.

It was in 1899 that James Bamforth, creator of saucy seaside postcards, started making films in Holmfirth.

In the following 15 years, he shot and produced over 50 films in and around the town - all starring local people.

Over a century later, the BBC's Countryfile team has been back to rediscover the man behind the movies.

Katina Bill from Kirklees Museums was filmed telling Countryfile presenter Matt Baker more about Bamforth's history.

Artistic talent

She showed him a selection of lantern slides, postcards and greetings cards from the Bamforth collection which is held at the Tolson Museum in Huddersfield.

Katina explained how James Bamforth had been a great artistic talent who was able to create realistic sets and backdrops for his photography.

At the same time he kept an eye on the latest trends for anything that he could easily develop.

Katina and Matt
Katina Ball explained to Matt Baker the importance of Bamforth's

He progressed from portrait photography to lantern slides and then films with great commercial success at every stage.

Katina said: "James Bamforth was an extraordinary man. He had great artistic skill and a real talent for spotting the important up and coming trends.

"But unusually, he combined these skills with some really good business sense.

"That enabled him to found a business that was successful for over 100 years."

As well as discovering more about James Bamforth, the Countryfile team also created their own Bamforth-style silent movie with Matt Baker as the star.

The collection held by Kirklees Museums and Galleries at the Tolson Museum covers all aspects of Bamforth's work.

Original artwork

It ranges from 19th century portrait and landscape photographs to greetings cards from the 1980s.

It also includes over 20,000 postcards, 1,500 pieces of original artwork for postcards and greetings cards and hundreds of lantern slides.

Though now most famous for saucy seaside postcards, Bamforth worked in a range of styles producing religious song sets, sentimental wartime cards, photographic views and comic photographic postcards .

He produced postcards, greetings cards, calendars, lantern slides and, of course, films.

Television cameras have, of course, become a familiar sight in Holmfirth over more recent years.

Lantern slide
Bamforth's work ranged from off-beat lantern slides to comic postcards

For nearly 40 years the BBC filmed the world's longest running sitcom, Last of the Summer Wine, in the Pennine market town and the surrounding area.

Countryfile's recent visit to Holmfirth is the second time in a matter of weeks that the team have been in Kirklees.

It was only at the end of January that they were there to find out more about the traditional Yorkshire game of Knurr and Spell.

The history of Bamforth's in Holmfirth is revealed on BBC One's Countryfile at 1900 GMT on Sunday 20 February.




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