A UNIQUE archive of material relating to cinema from as far back as the 1930s has been donated to Edge Hill College of Higher Education.
The archive is the result of three decades of work by Ormskirk-based film enthusiast Chris Roby.
It includes academic and popular periodicals and fanzines dating from the 1930s to 1970s, rare books about cinema and people’s personal scrapbooks of clippings about their favourite films of the day.
Chris has now donated the collection, known as the Chris Roby Archive of Film Texts (CRAFT) to Edge Hill. It will be used by students and, from September, will also be open to members of the public.
Dr Anna Claydon, senior lecturer in Film Studies at Edge Hill, said: “It is a treasure trove for film academics and for anyone with a passion for film.”
Chris started the archive in the early 1970s when he joined Southport Film Guild. Guild members had already collected a large quantity of written materials relating to films, but Chris was the first to collate it.
From there, the archive grew, with material being added from all around the world.
Chris was awarded grants by several bodies to develop the archive, including the Merseyside Arts Association, Manpower Services Commission and Granada Television. Southport Library offered him space to store the materials and donated withdrawn film books and magazines to the collection.
But as the collection grew, Chris found he could no longer devote the time needed to look after it. He was, however, determined that the collection would not be broken up.
The North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University stepped in with an offer to store it for him. Chris said: “They were good enough to keep it for me but it basically lay dormant for years. A few people asked to use it at different times and I would occasionally visit to add material or to borrow from it.
“Eventually I became aware that it was taking up too much room and had to start thinking about where else it could possibly go.”
Around this time Chris spotted a couple of stories in the local press about the launch of a major honours degree in Film Studies at Edge Hill – and realised there could be a new home for the Archive at the institution in Ormskirk.
The Film Studies team leapt at the chance to have such a valuable resource on campus, and arrangements were made for its transfer.
Dr Anna Claydon said: “We are delighted that Chris has decided to donate the Archive to Edge Hill. Film Studies students have already made use of some of the material in the Archive, and we are looking forward to making it available to a wider audience when we open it to the public from September.
“It has some fascinating material in it. The collection is predominantly academic and popular periodicals and fanzines from the 1950s to 1970s, but there are a number of rare periodicals dating back to the 1930s.
“There is also a large collection of rare film books, and a large number of scrapbooks with clippings and stills dating back to the 1930s. These scrapbooks in particular give an insight into fandom in the period.”
A conference, Archiving the Cinema, is being held at Edge Hill on 10 and 11 April to commemorate the launch of CRAFT.
The keynote speech will be given by Dr Duncan Petrie of the Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture at the University of Exeter. Papers will cover areas including archiving film memorabilia, teaching film using archive material and librarianship and film collections.