Over the years we have recorded a wide range of interesting crafts, industries and activities. Some are released as Productions or Compilations, but these are but the tip of the archive. We have a number of fascinating recordings that are relatively short but deserve a wider audience, so we decided to release them online as short two-minute "Snippets from the archive". We hope you will find them interesting - if you do you can see more clips online on our Vimeo channel.
When we recorded the last run of narrowboats carrying coal on the Birmingham Canals from Anglesey basin to Tipton in 1999, we were privileged to see many boating skills and techniques still in use. That was the main aim of all the Sightseen Partnerships (SSP) recordings.
This two minute clip is an evocative collection of excerpts and outtakes from the start of shooting for the the SSP DVD 'Last Run from Anglesey' and includes hanging a helm on a BCN Joey boat and 'scoping out' water before the three boats were loaded with coal.
See 'Last Run from Anglesey' for the full-feature DVD Production, which has an expertly written and narrated commentary.
Recorded 1999, 702 x 576 SD
Smith Edge Tools designed and made a wide variety of metal tools in Oldbury.
This recording was commissioned in 2003 when they were using belt-operated stamps to drop forge '12lb' (5kg) sledgehammer heads.
After they closed, the drop hammers were donated to the Black Country Living Museum who had funded our recording project. This excerpt is from nearly 2 hours of original footage.
Recorded 2003, 702 x 576 SD
The wooden narrowboat "Saturn" is the last surviving 'Shroppie Fly' boat.
Built by the SUR&CCo in 1906 in Chester, the Saturn took perishable goods such as cheese as quickly as possible from Shropshire and Cheshire to the markets in Manchester.
Fly boats had priority over all other traffic and ran day and night. They were probably the apotheosis of narrowboat building as they combined sleek lines and strength with light weight enabling horses to tow them at reasonably high speed for hours at a time.
This is a short excerpt from an 11 minute recording of part of the restoration work in 2004 - volunteers caulking the seams of the oak sides and elm bottoms of the hull at a boatyard on the Trent and Mersey canal.
Visit the Saturn Project website: saturnflyboat.org.uk
Recorded 2004, 702 x 576 SD
In 2012 we were asked to make an HD documentary record underground in the beautiful and famous Mountain Mine at Allihies in County Cork, Ireland.
This is a very short excerpt which shows the main adit, Man Engine shaft, Old Bucket shaft, Engine shaft, the crosscut to Commanmore lode plus boating around the main stope!
Recorded 2012, 1920 x 1080 HD
Exploration of the water power equipment at the bottom of Brewery shaft, Nenthead lead & zinc mine in 2009.
A 'Hydrautomat' trompe system provided compressed air via a 4m high air receiver & separator. Nearby a twin 36cm diameter Gilkes Pelton wheel drove an electrical generator and a 1m Gilkes Pelton wheel in a large arched chamber with a workshop powered two compressors.
In another rock chamber, a 4m x 60cm iron waterwheel probably drove pumps in a nearby shaft, now flooded.
Recorded 2009, 1920 x 1080 HD
Inspired by the famous 1953 BBC timelapse film of a train journey from London to Brighton in 4 minutes, we thought we ought to try the same for a canal! So here is London to London in 5 minutes 20 seconds, filmed in 1979 - best watched full-screen.
Starting below City Road locks on the Regent's canal, we travel via Little Venice to Bull's Bridge junction, down the locks to Brentford, back to Bull's Bridge junction, visit Slough, return to Cowley Peachey junction, then head north up the main line. Passing Kings Langley and Berkhamstead we reach Marsworth junction and make the return journey to Aylesbury. Back on the main line many locks and bridges bring us to Stoke Bruerne and through Blisworth tunnel. Another 14 miles takes us to Norton junction and we reach the bottom Watford lock on the Leicester section before winding and retracing most of our journey, finally mooring in Uxbridge.
Bridges are passed in the blink of an eye and locks only take a few frames. A great deal has changed in 40 years. Almost every industrial building we see in central London has since been demolished or converted to flats!
An old electrically driven Vinten "Scientific camera Mk.4" 16mm instrumentation recording camera with a Dallmeyer F 1/2" f/3.5 lens was bought and a simple electronic shutter release timer made to take one frame per minute. At odd times the camera would run at 24 fps for a few frames!
The expired 16mm black & white negative film which had been donated to us was processed as an exercise by photography students, so the experiment didn't cost much! Unfortunately the condition of the film and some of the processing wasn't optimum, so of the three 50 foot reels exposed, 3875 frames were useable and some are rather grainy. After telecine transfer using an URSA diamond thanks to Ian Cooper, this video clip was made at 12.5 frames per second and captions, maps and stills added. Inevitably the only way of reading most of them is by pausing and frame advancing, so they're only there for reference. The whole return journey is shown full-frame without maps or stills.
There is no sound. We could have added an irrelevant music track, but what would be the point?.
The International Early Engines Conference 2020 (IEEC2) at the Black Country Living Museum had to be postponed until 2021 due to the Coronavirus situation. IEEC1 in 2017 at Elsecar heritage Centre was very enjoyable, so we have put together the 4 snippets below recapping on IEEC1 and featuring the BCLM Newcomen engine. Enjoy!
The 1895 Bratch pumping station, Staffordshire was built by Bilston Urban District Council to supply water to Goldthorn Hill reservoir, Wolverhampton. The grade 2* listed building has exuberant gothic fantasy castle pinnacles and Moorish brickwork decoration showing the justifiable civic pride of the time. It houses 2 large inverted vertical triple expansion steam engines 'Alexandra' and 'Victoria', both had Corliss valves with their trips driven by eccentrics.
Building of the engines was started by James Watt & Co. but completed by Messrs Thornewill & Warham of Burton on Trent. They operated for 65 years raising water from 50m deep boreholes in the Bunter sandstone aquifer until replaced by electric pumps in 1960. In 1991 a team lead by Len Crane restored 'Victoria' for Severn Trent Water. 'Alexandra' is still in situ but minus many fittings and is displayed painted in red oxide.
This Snippet shows 'Victoria' in steam for the first time since restoration during an open day in December 1995.
Recorded 1995, 696 x 566 SD
The 1795 'Great Engine' is the only Newcomen-type atmospheric beam engine in the world still in its original location. It pumped water from Elsecar New Colliery from 1795 until 1923. In 1836 a new beam was cast and parallel motions fitted at both ends.
In 1972 it was scheduled as an ancient monument and thanks to Barnsley Museums and the Heritage Lottery Fund the engine was restored to working order in 2014, it is now operated hydraulically in a very subtle way.
Recorded 2016, 1920 x 1080 HD
The first International Early Engines Conference IEEC1 was held at The Ironworks, Elsecar Heritage Centre in 2017. The theme was "Thomas Newcomen and colleagues’ achievements untainted by the smokescreens of Watt”.
There were several visits to relevant local sites during the conference including Elsecar Heritage Railway, the preserved 1795 Newcomen-type atmospheric beam engine, Hemingfield Colliery and Wortley Top Forge where some 'late' engines were seen!
This Snippet shows some of the highlights of the visits.
Recorded 2017, 1920 x 1080 HD
The world's only full-size working replica Newcomen atmospheric steam engine is at the Black Country Living Museum in the English Midlands.
We made a very detailed HD recording of the beam engine, starting with setting and lighting the fire in a cold boiler, and thoroughly checking all the equipment. Then when steam was raised, the engine was operated manually as must have been done with the earliest prototypes.
Technical details of mechanisms, the hot and cold water circuits and the techniques and tricks needed to work with it safely and efficiently were seen, including how to shut down the engine quickly in the event of low water in the boiler!
This Snippet is a short edited excerpt from the introduction section of our 46 minute DVD "On Mighty Arms"
Recorded 2009, 1920 x 1080 HD
In 2000 the stone abutments of the world-famous 1779 Iron Bridge in Ironbridge, Shropshire needed restoration. It was decided to use exactly the same stone as the original, which had been quarried very near by - high up on the south side of the gorge.
We were asked to record the work, and this excerpt is a glimpse of the specialist masons in the quarry and under the bridge, using a clever mixture of traditional and modern techniques.
Recorded 2000, 702 x 576
In 1997 the Shropshire Caving and Mining Club winch built by Club President Alan Taylor was used for the 44m descent of Watson's Shaft at Tankerville lead mine. We got off the winch on a pile of debris next to a level which we explored.
When we checked the shaft 15 years later, what we had stood on had dropped into the rest of the shaft and revealed the water table! Using an underwater camera housing also built by Alan Taylor, we found what was below the surface.
Recorded 1997, 698 x 566
The I.A.Recordings MineCam followed the first winch descent by the Shropshire Caving and Mining Club of the 120m deep Ramsden shaft at Bog baryte mine in 2007.
At 74m depth, dangerous protruding timbers had to be removed before exploration could continue to reach stopes and levels connected to the Boat Level (a deep drainage level for several mines in the area).
This is a short edited excerpt from the DVD "Ramsden Shaft (MineCam No.6)"
Recorded 2007, 700 x 572
Röhrigschacht in Wettelrode, Saxony-Anhalt is in the middle of the historic mining landscape of the southeastern Harz. Copper slate and schist was mined in this area from 1200 to 1990, with over 1,000 shafts in the Mansfeld depression and 270 shafts in the Sangerhausen district around the mine.
A mining museum since 1987, an extensive underground tour was added in 1991. Visitors are taken down a 283m deep shaft, then ride an old mine train for a 1,000m to see mining tools in operation and a variety of workings.
The 1888 mine headframe is one of the oldest in Europe still operating.
Find out more about Röhrigschacht Wettelrode mine on their website.
This is a short edited excerpt from just the Röhrigschacht section of our 115 minute long DVD "Historic Mines of the Harz" based on visits to many sites in 2003
Recorded 2003, 720 x 576
In the Isle of Man, one cheap ticket lets you use four different historic railways in series!
We board a steam train in Port Erin and change to a horsedrawn tram in Douglas which links to the Isle of Man Electric Railway to Laxey. We continue to Ramsey, then return to Laxey to take the Snaefell Mountain Railway to the summit and back.
There's a surprise peek at the second Laxey waterwheel (Lady Evelyn) on the way. This wheel also known as the Snaefell Wheel is on the washing floors in Laxey Glen Gardens, near the famous Laxey wheel.
Recorded 2006, 1920 x 1080
Rammelsberg silver, copper and lead mine worked continuously for over 1000 years.
This is a short edited excerpt from just the Rammelsberg section of our 115 minute long DVD "Historic Mines of the Harz" based on visits to many sites in 2003
Recorded 2003, 720 x 576
[Snippet taken from "Historic Mines of the Harz"]
On a visit to the Ruhr, Germany, in 2002 we were privileged to see two working blast furnaces beside the Rhine in Duisburg.
This Snippet shows just a few of the highlights, including skips being hauled up to charge a furnace, work around the casting floor to prepare it for casting - including warming the channels with small fires, and views around the works.
InterNAMHO April 2020 - if like us you were disappointed at the cancellation of the Conference in Cornwall due to Covid-19 and missed your mining fix we've make a few snippets of Cornish mining activity from some of our productions and compilations. Hope you enjoy them.
During the excellent InterNAMHO mining history conference in 2000, we visited the famous Wheal Jane mine for a tour of the site and the intact processing mill. The highlight was a demonstration of tin smelting in the assay office.
This is just a tiny edited highlight from the Wheal Jane section of our 4½ hour 3-DVD set 'Mongst Mines and Mine Explorers. There is a great deal more about the mill and the rest of the Wheal Jane site.
Recorded 2000, 704 x 566
[Snippet taken from Disc 2: "Machinery - mine equipment"]
In 1987 we visited Geevor tin mine in Cornwall while it was still working and had a normal guided tour which included the processing mill.
It wasn't a planned visit so we only had a Hi-8 camcorder, but the result is a historic recording of the site as it was over 30 years ago.
This is just a tiny edited highlight from the Geevor section of our 4½ hour 3-DVD set 'Mongst Mines and Mine Explorers.
Recorded 1987, 704 x 566
[Snippet taken from Disc 2: "Machinery - mine equipment"]
In 1993 during our visit to South Crofty tin mine in Cornwall we were lucky to see the mine still working at depth (following an exciting descent in the cage - see Snippet 7, below).
This snippet includes rocker shovels working at the 400 fathom level 730m below adit, and a ride on the conveyor belt back to the 380 fathom level.
This is just a tiny highlight from the 4½ hour 3-DVD set 'Mongst Mines and Mine Explorers.
Recorded 1993, 704 x 566
[Snippet taken from Disc 1 "Underground Mine Tours"]
Blue Hills Tin Streams in Cornwall gathers alluvial tin ore from the Cornish coast and uses a mixture of ancient and modern techniques to dress, smelt and refine the tin to make Cornish jewellery. We last visited the site in 2007.
This is an excerpt from the Blue Hills section of the 126 minute DVD 'Mongst more Mines.
Recorded 2007, 720 x 576 (16:9 anamorphic widescreen)
In 1993 we visited South Crofty tin mine in Cornwall and were able to descend the shaft to see some of the underground operations. This snippet shows part of the exciting 3 minute descent in the double-deck cage to the 380 fathom level and is a tiny highlight from the 4½ hour 3-DVD set 'Mongst Mines and Mine Explorers. You can find out more about this prodcution on the 'Mongst Mines and Mine Explorers webpage.
Recorded 1993, 702 x 566
[Snippet taken from Disc 1 "Underground Mine Tours"]
A seaside funicular railway linking Oddicombe beach to Babbacombe, operating since 1926. Recorded in 1993 just before track upgrades.
Since we recorded the Cliff Railway it has undergone a couple of refurbishments with new cars, track, doors and control gear. It now has a different livery and works daily (Coronavirus permitting!).
Recorded 1993, 698 x 570
Crossley-Premier KO4 heavy oil engines powered the Gwynnes axial-flow pumps at Tydd Gote in Lincolnshire from 1938. They lifted water from the North Level Main Drain into the River Nene to help keep the Fenlands dry.
Before the station was converted to electricity, we recorded the remaining three engines in 2007 driving their pumps at full load. One of the engines has since been dismantled and taken for preservation to the Internal Fire Museum of Power in Ceredigion.
Thanks to John Clifton, Paul Sharman, Andy Rutter, The North Level Internal Drainage Board and www.internalfire.com
Recorded 2007, 1440 x 1080 HDV [Snippet taken from 58 minute version]
Views of the final stage of the run of Sentinel steam wagons from Glasgow to Shrewsbury to celebrate the centenary of Sentinel in August 2005.
Alley & MacLellan (founded 1875 in Glasgow) began making steam powered road vehicles in 1905. Their chain driven 5 ton vertical-boiler wagon with a 2-cylinder undertype engine similar to those seen in this Snippet was first produced in 1906. In 1915 they opened a new factory in Shrewsbury, Shropshire where steam wagons were made under a new company name "Sentinel Waggon Works Ltd".
At the end of the run the steam wagons and drivers posed in the archway at the Shrewsbury Sentinel works for photographs - just as the wagons did when they first left the factory.
Recorded 2005, 1440 x 1080 HDV [Snippet taken from 9 minute version]
What do you do when your house is suffering from mining subsidence due to shallow coal workings and the drilling team can't reach them?
Answer: Simply bring the drilling rig into the hall, then drill and grout the workings from there!
Recorded 1991, 690 x 570 4:3 SD [Snippet taken from 26 minute version]
Following research by members of the Shropshire Mines Trust a project was devised to cast a reproduction Roman lead ingot (a pig) based on the dimensions and weights of Roman ingots found in Shropshire over the years.
Recorded 2003, 720 x 576 4:3 SD [Snippet taken from 28 minute version]
118mm x 550mm x 175mm (4.6 x 21.6 x 6.9 inches)
Weight: 190lb (86kg)
Inscribed: "IMP HADRIANI AVG."
Emperor Hadrian (Reigned 10 August 117 – 10 July 138)
In 2010 the Aveling & Porter 10 ton "BS" model steam roller dating from 1914 needed some refurbishment work. Part of the work undertaken by owner Ian Cooper was to replace the boiler barrel with a new one.
We were lucky to be able to go along and record some of the hot riveting during the fitting of the new boiler barrel to the firebox. To complete the restoration over 150 rivets had to be fitted to attach the boiler barrel, tubeplate, cylinder saddle, the boss for the injector check valve and the strengthening plate around the manhole!
Recorded 2010, 1920 x 1080 16:9 HD [Snippet taken from 16 minute version]