Rare Edwardian footage added to Unesco list

Watch some footage from the Mitchell and Kenyon collection

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A collection of film documentaries dating back 100 years that was found in the basement of a disused shop in 2002 has been added to a UN heritage list.

The restored films by Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon give an insightful visual record of late Victorian and early Edwardian British life.

The films, together with the GPO Film Archives, will be listed on the UK Memory of the World Register.

It was devised by UN cultural body Unesco to raise awareness of archives.

The 800-reel Mitchell and Kenyon collection was discovered by historian Peter Worden in Blackburn, Lancashire, and features footage of the last soldier to receive the Victoria Cross from Queen Victoria herself.

It also includes an early crime reconstruction and the first footage of a Manchester United game, from 1902.

Hull City football. 1904/5. Pics from BFI Mitchell and Kenyon filmed sport including the first footage of Manchester United

The British Film Institute (BFI), which is home to the collection, restored the material, calling it "the most exciting film discovery of recent times".

In 2005, the BBC made a three-part documentary series which featured the films.

The BFI is also home to the archives of the GPO Film Unit, which will join the Mitchell and Kenyon collection on the register.

It said the unit, which ran from 1933 to 1940, "produced one of the finest British collections of documentary, public information, animation and industrial film ever to come from a single UK source".

Start Quote

These are some of the UK's exceptional, but lesser-known documentary riches”

End Quote David Dawson, UK Memory of the World Committee

The BFI nominations were among 20 items and collections selected from libraries, archives and museums to represent the UK's heritage.

David Dawson, chair of the UK Memory of the World Committee, said: "We were incredibly impressed by the diversity and richness of these nominations to the register."

"These are some of the UK's exceptional, but lesser-known documentary riches.

"By awarding them with the globally-recognised Unesco Memory of the World status we hope to elevate them to the world stage."

Founded in 1933, the BFI claims to have the largest and most culturally valuable film and television archive in the world.

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