British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access


Whitwalker girls, 1966 (film still courtesy of the North West Film Archive at the Manchester Metropolitan University)
The North West Film Archive (NWFA), established in 1977, is a public regional collection holding material from early ‘animated’ pictures to contemporary productions. The experiences and interests of North West people are captured in both professional and amateur footage - a record of modern urban society in moving pictures. The collection dates from 1897 and includes cinema newsreels, documentaries, educational and training films, travelogues, advertising and promotional material, corporate videos and regional television programmes. A wide range of subject matter is represented: work and local industry, sport and leisure, holidays, local traditions and celebrations, transport, housing, healthcare and wartime experiences. The Archive’s collection of amateur films is particularly extensive and includes family home movies. The North West Film Archive is structured within the Library Service of the Manchester Metropolitan University and is a registered charity (n. 1030912). The Archive is supported by North West Arts Board, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Granada Television, Lancashire and Cheshire County Councils, the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The NWFA pro-actively seeks opportunities to widen access to the collection for all the region’s people - this has included pioneering action research led by people with visual or hearing impairments. The North West Film Archive became a member of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) in 1994.
Artefact description
Over 32,500 items of film and video, from early ‘animated pictures’ to regional television material and contemporary video productions.
Isle of Man; Newsreels; Newsfilm; Advertising films; Manchester; North West England; Lancashire; Liverpool; Merseyside; Transport; Amateur films; Carnivals; Celebrations; Town and country planning; Social History; Industries; Canals; Technology; Preston; Co-operative societies; Blackpool; Bolton; Bury; Carborundum Company Ltd; Cheshire; Film studios; Milnrow; Newsreels, local; Rochdale; Shoemaking industries; St Helens (Merseyside); Stockport; Tameside; Textile industries; Trafford; Unilever plc; Wartime; Whit walks; Wigan; Working class communities
Access available to public, academic and commercial users. Office hours are Mon-Fri, 9-5. Online catalogues available. Electronic and telephone enquiries welcome - excellent viewing facilities on the premises, by appointment. Loan services also available.
Viewings at NWFA by appointment only and subject to preservation requirements. Inhouse copying available, including amateur gauges to broadcast standard.
Research and reference on premises usually free to public and academic users. Rate card available for commercial users.
Copyright not held by NWFA - information and assistance on request. Material must be cleared before supply.

Moving Image, Audio and Related Documentation Holdings

Over 26,500 items of film and video (master holdings) plus 5,500 items on videotape and film print for viewing.
Video components: DigiBeta, Beta/Beta SP, VHS, S-VHS, 8mm, hi-8, hi-band U-Matic, lo-band U-Matic, 1-inch video, Philips, 1/2 inch reel to reel.
Film components: 8mm, Super 8mm, 9.5mm, 16mm, 35mm (positive, negative and track).
Television holdings: regional news and current affairs programmes on colour film (1970s/1980s).
Complementary collections: Whilst moving images are the NWFA’s primary concern, complementary collections of still photographs, oral history recordings, books and journals, posters and ephemera are held relating to the film and cinema industry of the North West of England. Over 16.000 items in total.

Artefact and Related Documentation Holdings

No.00 Empire Home and Educational 35mm Cinematograph c.1911. Ernemann Imperator 35mm projector 1909. One other early 35mm projector - details not known. Numerous sub-standard gauge projectors - some kept in working order for operational requirements, many gifted with film collections. Small number of architects’ watercolours and drawings. A brass disinfectant sprayer (Edwardian) - hand pumped - used during children’s matinees we are told.; Cinema plans and architects’ drawings; Projectors
An eclectic collection of documentation and ephemera ranging from letters and diaries, newspaper cuttings and cinema takings books, to badges, tickets and trophies. Substantial sets of archival paperwork were directed to the appropriate record office, but sometimes copies were kept of samples. Photograph collection mostly represents people’s experiences of working in and going to the cinema - copies, not originals, mostly.; Catalogues; Correspondence; Cue sheets; Diaries, unpublished memoirs etc; Lobby cards; Equipment manuals; Personal papers; Posters and promotional artwork; Photographs; Promotional literature; Other production documentation; Ephemera
We have the 35mm Vinten camera used by Mancunian in the 1940s and 50s. Also a number of sub-standard gauge cameras, mostly gifted with amateur film collections. 35mm and 16mm Steenbecks are in regular use. One Editola - not in use.; Cine cameras; Editing equipment and viewers
Projection & Viewing
35mm slide projector and small number of glass slides - mostly uncatalogued...; Slides; Slide projectors
Toys & Games
Toy film projectors and viewers for amateur gauges, novelty film loop viewers.
TV, Video & Digital
Small number of early home video cameras gifted with amateur collections. We have pretty much all of the above, but as operational equipment. Some of it is obsolete, but necessarily in running order to carry out preservation work.; Television/video cameras


Computerised database
Four databases online are (and they don’t include the artefacts): Film & Video holdings BBC regional news 1974-86 BBC regional features 1966-86 Merseyside Survey
via website links at

Additional Information

Conservation policy
Material not relevant to this collection is re-directed to the most appropriate home. Nitrate films are also offered to the National Film and Television Archive for selection. Preservation priority is afforded to titles on chemically unstable stock.
Artefact notes

Main Contact

Jo Abley
Job title
Collections Assistant
0161-247 3097
0161-247 3098
Manchester Metropolitan University
Minshull House
47-49 Chorlton Street
M1 3EU

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