BFI Heritage 2022 Video-Tape Project

In 2012, the British Film Institute (BFI) instigated a project to digitise film from the regional and national film archives in order to preserve the material for future generations. Following on from this and with a similar strategy, a further project aims to digitise material from many legacy video-tape formats held across the country. 

In some ways, this is more urgent and problematic than the case for film, in that video-tape is not an optical medium and relies on, sometimes old and unreliable, machines working sufficiently well to show and copy the material from. Hence, time is not on the side of being able to keep these machines in working order indefinitely. 

WFSA blog 1

Although the ultimate aim is to copy the material to digital files, the BFI first provided funding to audit the material across the regional and national film archives, including Wessex Film and Sound Archive (WFSA). The audit took place between September 2018 and the beginning of January this year. It has enabled us to gain a deeper level of granularity about our collectionsand the resulting information will not only support the BFI’s plans for Heritage 2022, but also inform our own future plans.

An earlier phase of the audit of tapes in the WFSA collections, completed in January 2018 with volunteer support including from David Lee, showed that there are 10,082 tapes across a variety of formats. To demonstrate the significance of tape formats in relation to other formats in the collections, this number compares with 12,629 items of cinefilm and 15,936 sound items. The tapes therefore represent almost half of the moving image items in the archive’s collections. 

4,506 of the tapes, so just less than 50% of them, are digibetas. The VHS and 1” formats are also strongly represented, with 1,994 and 1,815 such items respectively. There is a substantial amount of betacam tapes (779), with strong showings of umatic and mini-dv formats. There are smaller numbers of other formats, from Sony video 8 to Betamax! 

Many of our collections are single tapes, as they are the only footage we have received from a particular source or provenance. This is a feature of a regional film archive which receives content from local amateurs or their families. Only a few or a single tape may have been produced or have survived from a filmmaker’s output. We have a small number of larger collections (containing a few hundred tapes), and our biggest collection is the TVS/STV collection. It comprises 4,870 tapes, mainly digibetas.

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To undertake the audit, the BFI provided a huge, complex spreadsheet for us to complete, along with guidelines about how collections should be represented. BFI asked that the smaller collections be aggregated to form larger collections , and the large TVS/STV collection be disaggregated into smaller sections. To complete the details on the spreadsheet meant viewing most of the tapes, and checking the rights details on file for the collections. 

The ITV Meridian Collection of Regional Programmes of Southern Television and TVS 

David King recalls, “although I had already been a volunteer for WFSA, the audit allowed me to spend more time analysing what material existed in the ITV Meridian collection from the regional archives of Southern Television and TVS. Having worked for all of these companies in the past, I already had a good knowledge of the regional programmes which were held in the collection but they had never really been audited since their arrival at WFSA in 2005. 

It was decided to concentrate on programmes that had already been transferred to the Digital Betacam format as this is where the bulk of completed programmes was considered to lie. There are around 4500 such tapes and it was necessary to check various aspect of the programmes on them such as whether the programmes are complete, if there are duplicate copies or if they are spread across more than one tape. Some programmes did indeed have a master and protection copy readily identifiable whilst for other duplicates, the real master and copy had to be determined.  

Thankfully, I already had a good database of my own which gave me a good starting point and the whole exercise took about twenty days spread across three months at the end of 2018. I had to call up many tapes to check from the strong room and eventually, I had a good idea of what material was held. The final exercise was to fill in my part of the spreadsheet that the BFI had provided. 

The collection is rather dear to my heart as I had worked, in one way or another, on many of the programmes. Of particular interest are the regional documentaries of Southern Television in the Southern Report strandTalking Bikes provided information and features for the motor-cycle community and Theatre in Camera ia short series of theatrical productions presented for television.  For TVS, the nature and local people of Country Ways stand out, together with personalities appearing on the lunchtime show Coast to Coast People. Also, regional debate in Questions and the teenage drama Radio are worthy of mention. 

Having these programmes digitised should make them more accessible to the public, many of whom may remember watching them originally. Also, researchers, programme makers and educational institutions may find them of interest when comparing modern life with the past, as in many ways they are unique, since we don’t necessarily get programmes of their kind today. 

I would like to thank David and colleagues here who worked so hard on the audit to get it completed to meet the BFI’s deadline.

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We have recently prioritised film preservation at WFSA, rather than tapes, but this opportunity to look in detail at our tape collection has given us food for thought on that topic. The ubiquity of video kit has meant more ordinary lives have been captured, unlike cinefilm, which tended to be the preserve of upper middle class and above families. The tape collection is very varied, encompassing everything from interviewees with former Basque child refugees from the Spanish Civil War to footage inside drainage tunnels; if anyone ever wants shots of a fatburg, we can help! 

Heather Needham, archivist, and David King, WFSA volunteer 



The study of early modern Hampshire wills and inventories

Will 4
Inventory and probate administration of Thomas Butterton of Basingstoke, Hampshire, chapman.  Ref: 1750AD/012


The Victoria County History of Hampshire volunteer group, formed in 2008, meets fortnightly in the Basingstoke Discovery Centre. One of our activities is reading and transcribing copies of 16th and 17th century probate records preserved in, and supplied to us by, Hampshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS). The inventory recorded all a person’s goods at death. Wills and inventories from The National Archives are also studied. So far our work has focused on Basingstoke and its surrounding rural area.

Transcriptions in modern English of 573 wills and 502 inventories for the parishes of Basingstoke (1600-1700), Steventon (1500-1700), Newnham (1521-1700), Mapledurwell (1518-1831), Up Nately and Andwell (1541-1707), Nately Scures (1543-1700), Cliddesden (1541-1700), Farleigh Wallop (1521-1738), Old Basing (1521-1620), Upton Grey (1501-1620) and Dummer (1500-1701) have been posted to the national VCH website for genealogical and local history research. More transcripts are being added regularly.

Studying probate records contributes to research for new VCH parish history chapters by revealing wealth, religious practices, farming practices, trades, charitable donations, land ownership and family relationships within each parish. Household items indicate the wealth of individuals – ‘joined’ furniture shows a high degree of carpentry; carpets (more correctly wall hangings), silver, books, bibles, spinning wheels, mirrors and weapons were owned by high status people; inventories of blacksmiths, tanners, weavers, apothecaries, millers, maltsters and grocers sometimes listed their tools and stock. Inventories of husbandmen listed their equipment, animals and crops. Agricultural trends such as ownership of sheep on the chalk down land compared with more cattle on the clay are revealed. In Newnham near Hook there were references to hops and apples not yet found in any other parish probate records.

Bequests of money or farm animals to provide an income were frequently made to the parish church and to Winchester cathedral for its upkeep and for the protection of the soul. The poor of the parish were often remembered with donations of money or wheat for bread and ale.

Will 2One interesting inventory, with a late survival date, was that of Thomas Butterton (d.1750), a chapman, pedlar or travelling salesman who lived in Basingstoke in the mid-18th century (HALS 1750AD/012). Chapmen sold their wares around the local countryside before shops developed in villages. They travelled on foot or on horseback. Butterton owned four horses so presumably travelled on horseback. You can read the whole transcription and glossary on Explore .The goods he sold were recorded in the extract from his inventory below:

An inventory of the goods and chattels of Mr Thomas Butterton chapman late deceased taken and appraised the 25 day of October 1750.

£     s     d

15 dozen of men’s stockings                                                               16   16     0

2 dozen 7 pairs boys’ ditto                                                                     1   13     2

6 dozen half of women’s ditto                                                                5     4     0

4 dozen 5 pairs girls’ ditto                                                                      1   12     8

8 dozen yarn ditto                                                                                    3     8     0

6 pairs cotton ditto                                                                                   0   13     6

8 pairs men’s gloves, 6 pairs boys’ ditto                                              0     6     8

2 caps                                                                                                        0     6     0

5 dozen knives & forks                                                                           0   15     0

16 pairs muffatees                                                                                  0     6     4

2 cotton gowns                                                                                        0   18     0

5 dozen silk handkerchiefs                                                                    5   17    0

5 dozen half lace ditto                                                                             3   19     0

1 dozen linen ditto, 7 cotton caps                                                         0   14     8

8 lawn handkerchiefs                                                                             0     8     8

20 els check                                                                                             0   16     8

13 pairs cotton gloves                                                                            1     7     2

33 pairs boys & girls gloves                                                                   1     2     1

2½d fans                                                                                                   0   15     0

a parcel of head cloths and handkerchiefs                                        0     3     0

a parcel of ribbons                                                                                16     9     0

190 yards lace and edgings                                                                13     0     6

odd buckles & necklaces                                                                       0     2     0


Will 1

Wills Group, VCH Hampshire


Cataloguing the Constabulary

I am sorry to see archivist Matthew Goodwin leaving Hampshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS) but wish him well in his new role in Birmingham. Matthew along with volunteers from the Hampshire Constabulary History Society have just completed an overhaul of the Hampshire Constabulary collection. A lot of material had to be freshly catalogued since we had moved boxes of items to Sussex Street a few years ago. So, whilst quite a lot of police material has to remain closed (usually for 100 years) there is lots more for you to see at Hampshire Record Office now.

For example, a football programme for a match between the Police and Tyros in December 1921. This was a Benefit Match with the entire proceeds going to the ‘Children of Romsey Unemployed’. Who were the Tyros I wonder?



Police v Tyros Benefit Football Match, 10 December 1921
Ref: 200M86/A8/1/2

A complete run of the Constabulary magazine Copperplate and the newspaper Frontline is now available. Publication of Frontline started 25 years ago but ceased in 2015. These force publications, along with Annual Reports, help chart changes in policing.

fl 2000 Frontline issue 75, Oct 2000
Ref: 200M86/A9/2/26

fl 1994Frontline issue no 3, Jan 1994
Ref: 200M86/A9/2/3

200M86/W8 will bring you the Winchester City Police General Order book. Winchester had its own police force until 1943. The collection also includes a letter of 3 May 1941 from the Head Constable of Winchester William Stratton allowing one of his constables to marry (200M86/W11).

go 1Winchester City Police General Order Book, 19 Oct 1920-16 Nov 1942
Ref: 200M86/W8

letter 1Letter from William Stratton, Chief Constable of Winchester City Police, to Guardsman A.C. Harris, 3 May 1941
Ref: 200M86/W11

From 1894 we have the night duty roster routes constables took in Botley (200M86/B11/1). This comes from William Davies who went on to become a superintendent. He kept these papers and at some point, I intend to try out his beat walks.

night rotaNursling night duty route, Jul 1894-Nov 1894
Ref: 200M86/B11/1

The Constabulary records remain a rich source for family historians who had a police officer as an ancestor. But bear in mind that Portsmouth and Southampton had their own police forces until 1967 and records for them are held in their respective archives. You will find out more about our History Society and our publications for sale, as well as our museum at our website:

Dr Clifford Williams, Hampshire Record Office Volunteer.

End of the war, home to Winchester at last!

As the 11th of November draws near, the time for reflection as to what the 4 years of the First World War meant is summed up by Victor Shawyer in his diary (Reference 170A12W/D/2375). For those of you who have read previous blogs with extracts from Victor’s diary, this will be the last one as he sheds light on the 11th November 1918 and his journey home.

Before Victor’s story starts, the following is an extract taken from The King’s Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle entry for the 11th November which states for the 1st Battalion:

“At 9am., November 11th, the Brigadier telephoned to say that Germany had signed the Armistice terms, and that hostilities would cease at 11 a.m. that morning.

It is strange to record that this momentous announcement was received very quietly by the men of the Battalion. There was no interruption of the morning’s work, which consisted in clearing up the salvage in the village and removing manure”

So let us start Victor’s journey…

Sawyer brothers

Victor Shawyer and his brothers, ref 170A12W/D/2375. Continue reading “End of the war, home to Winchester at last!”

Letters from The Front: Love and Heartbreak

Hampshire Record Office contains over a thousand years of history relating to Hampshire’s people, communities and places. Within the eight miles of archives are hundreds, if not thousands, of items relating to the First World War. These range from letters and reports mentioning the Christmas Truce of 1914 and games of football in No Man’s Land, to diaries concerning action from various fronts, film footage, postcards of soldiers recuperating at Netley Hospital and posters recruiting for the Women’s Land Army. Among these are letters written between soldiers serving abroad and their families back at home.


Continue reading “Letters from The Front: Love and Heartbreak”

And Their Name Liveth for Evermore: Researching your Local War Memorial

War memorials can be researched from various angles: military, social, and family history, and also as artistic objects. The memorials can take the form of the traditional cross in the churchyard or town square, a commemorative plaque or window, or a more practical memorial, and Andover has examples of all of these.

Newspapers are useful sources for those researching war memorials, but it is helpful to have a date to avoid a long search. Local newspapers will probably give details of dedication and unveiling ceremonies, perhaps with lists of names of those on the memorial and possibly those attending the ceremony, sometimes with photographs of the fallen.


 The Andover Advertiser, 7th May 1920, describes the unveiling of the cenotaph at its original site in the High Street. Continue reading “And Their Name Liveth for Evermore: Researching your Local War Memorial”

Commemorating Winchester Cathedral’s diver

Why is there a statue of a diver inside Winchester Cathedral? Why is there a pub named The William Walker facing the Cathedral? The answer to both these questions lies in the extraordinary assignment undertaken between 1906 and 1911 by a man who died one hundred years ago this month – an assignment which is particularly well recorded in the Winchester Cathedral Archive, held at Hampshire Record Office, and which is featured in a display now on show in the Cathedral (until 31st October 2018).

000 HPP5-1-32

William Walker in his diving suit, Hampshire Record Office: HPP5/1/32. Continue reading “Commemorating Winchester Cathedral’s diver”

The Forest of Halla Haroldi and Churlwood

In the 13th century Hampshire had the highest concentration of Royal Forests in England. Whilst the New Forest is well covered by historians; the others are not. I have been researching these at Hampshire Record Office (HRO) and my particular interest is the Forest of East Bere. One particular mystery with respect of the later is the Forest of Halla Haroldi. Nothing has been published on this important topic and documents at the HRO have provided an important insight.


Roger Clooney inspecting a map at Hampshire Record Office. Continue reading “The Forest of Halla Haroldi and Churlwood”

Out of the Shadows: A Spitfire story

Working with the collection at Wessex Film & Sound Archive (WFSA) is a joy. I spend my days watching archive film across a wide spectrum of topics. As a Hampshire resident, I have always had a vain hope of spotting a relative on film. Sadly, in reality, unless you have a clear idea that a relative you know features in a film that we hold there is little chance that you will spot them…

That said, almost all of the films within the collection feature people – we are a very human archive capturing people at work, rest and play. We have over 38,000 items and people are at the very centre of these. Whilst we hold some information about the faces who grace the screens in most cases, these faces remain nameless individuals going about their daily lives. Just imagine the number of people whose image we hold for posterity.

Len Gooch at the works

Len Gooch (third from the left) at the Works with visiting Americans.Image credit: author’s own.   Continue reading “Out of the Shadows: A Spitfire story”

In pursuit of the Mayflower

My name is Hannah and I have been interning with Hampshire Record Office for the summer in between my first and second year of my M.A in the United States. My degree is in American Studies so I was thrilled to be able to volunteer at Hampshire Archives and Local Studies on the Mayflower400 project. In preparation for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing from Southampton over to Plymouth Massachusetts, Hampshire Archives and Local Studies is looking to host an event to commemorate Stephen Hopkins – one of the Mayflower passengers who hailed from Upper Clatford, Hampshire. Making the most of the search room, and all the lovely ALSCAs (Archives, Local Studies, Certificate Assistants) I have seen all of the amazing things that Hampshire Archives and Local Studies has to offer.

Stephen Hopkins 2

Baptism entry for Stephen Hopkins, ref 11M69/PR1. Continue reading “In pursuit of the Mayflower”