NEFA launches ambitious new Search & Rescue campaign


North East Film Archive is excited to announce the launch of its new Search & Rescue campaign. 

We’re asking everyone who lives in, works in or loves the North East to help us re-discover those forgotten film and videotape collections that have recorded life in the region over the past one hundred and twenty years.

The campaign is part of our North East on Film project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

North East On Film is about finding, preserving, digitising and sharing our region’s moving image heritage, so that those familiar faces, places, great events and everyday working lives that have all been captured on film are revealed once again for everyone to see and enjoy. 

During the project the team will be criss-crossing the North East, partnering with cinemas, community centres, local interest groups, and festival organisers to screen these astonishing films in the communities in which they were first made. At the same time we will be asking for the public’s help in finding any local film collections, and advising on how to care for them. 

This Search & Rescue campaign is a call-out to everyone to help the North East Film Archive find and care for more fantastic footage of our region.   We’re looking for film – and videotape – collections that have been filmed in, or about the North East – and that includes family film collections, advertising collections from local companies, cine club collections, educational films, professional films or artist’s film and video.  If you have, or know about any collections, we’d love to hear from you.

Who knows what gems might be discovered? Here is just a taster of some recent examples that have been found, preserved and digitised, ready to share with the public:

Who would have thought that one lucky amateur filmmaker would come across the most glamorous of Hollywood movie stars on Bamburgh beach on a chilly Sunday morning – well look no further, here she is, the beautiful Liz Taylor, idling away her time as husband Richard Burton gets down to work in the lead role of Becket in the 1964 feature film of the same name.

Or what about this for something different: A fashionable crowd in the 1930s splash their cash on the horses at Gosforth Park races, and we’re treated to shots of the Northumberland Plate, still one of the highlights of the North East's race-going calendar.

Meantime, in the 1950s, Durham was finding new ways to curb the growing problems of littering, as seen in the amateur film ‘Keep Durham Tidy’, whilst down in Stockton all the streets were spruced up to their very best for the 1953 Coronation celebrations, including filmmaker Leslie Brown’s record and toy shop, all recorded on glorious Kodachrome colour film.

Links to all these amazing films are included below.

Archive Manager Graham Relton says: 

“These films are an absolutely fantastic record of our region over the decades – people love to see the places they know, where they grew up, and first went to work – or first met the love of their lives. The North East has such a strong sense of place and identity, and a lot of that is because the people, who are so rooted in the very things that have been captured on millions of feet of film over the years – family, friends, communities, work, sport – having fun, and living life here in the North East.  Let’s preserve all of that for future generations.”

Julie Ballands, North East On Film Delivery Manager says:

We’re looking for amateur collections which may be hidden away in lofts and garages.  Films and videos that document the social history of the region including the fashions, cars and buildings are all important, and we’re not just after famous faces and professional productions. We’ve recently received some beautifully-shot home movies from Darlington that record a family’s bonfire night celebrations in the 1940s, as well as some amazing 1960s advertising films from the former Vaux breweries in Sunderland.  We know there is much more out there so we urge the public to get in touch!”

Visit for more details.

If you would like to talk to someone from the North East Film Archive about a film or video you have please email or call us on 01642 384 022. 

As part of the North East on Film project many archive films have been newly digitised:



Becket at Bamburgh, 1963:

A rendezvous with glamorous Hollywood movie star Elizabeth Taylor, on the beach at Bamburgh to spend some downtime with her great love, actor Richard Burton at the location shoot for British film Becket.

Northern Life: Berwick Walls Races, 1976:

Vintage tracksuits galore in a tour around Berwick-upon-Tweed with hundreds of game international athletes of all ages, including Olympic medallist Mike McLeod, tackling the gruelling annual Running The Walls event.



Town Moor, 1934:

All the excitement of race day at Gosforth Park as a fashionable 30s crowd join local miners to take a punt on the horses at the popular Pitmen’s Derby.

A Tale of Two Hawkers, 1972:

Tyneside’s own down-at-heel Steptoe and Son take centre stage in a gem of a TV documentary about the rag-and-bone men and scrap metal barons of Newcastle in the 70s.



Radiant II, 1960-61:

The world-renowned Sunderland yard of Austin & Pickersgill send another well-crafted ship gliding down the slipway into the Wear in a spectacle made for the cameras.

Vaux Commercial: The Continental Hotel Sunderland, Vaux Breweries, 1965:

Sports commentator Kent Walton enjoys a perfect beer at The Continental with local pop singers David MacBeth and Helen Russell to helps promote Sunderland’s very own Vaux Breweries.



Please Keep Durham Tidy, 1951:

Follow a family of out-of-town litterbugs on a tour around the attractions of historic Durham City in this tongue-in-cheek amateur campaign film.

800 Years a City, 1979:

A colourful mix of politics and pageantry, billowing banners and rousing brass bands as a big crowd parades through Durham for the annual Miners’ Gala passing the recently ousted Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan.



Stockton Coronation Celebrations June 1953:

A riot of red, white and blue decorations and cheerful crowds line the streets of Stockton for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation celebrations, captured in stunning Kodachrome colour by local record and toy shop owner Leslie Brown.

Vaux Commercial: The Queen Hartlepool, 1965:

A refreshing pint of Vaux beer quenches the thirst of local beat fans, hand jiving to popular local band the Hartbeats at The Queen in Hartlepool in this 60s advertisement for the prestigious northern brewery.