A boy writing a letter to Father Christmas in 1948 filmed, by french amateur film enthusiast, Henri Sergent. Showing his son and daughters writing a letter to father Christmas

Archive film showing Norwich’s Christmas past

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
10.00 AM

At the heart of most families’ Christmases are years of tradition.

Whether it’s writing a letter to Father Christmas, a group trip to a favourite shop, midnight Mass or board games – every family has its own long-standing “thing” they do year after year.

And a Norwich heritage project is keen to show the festive traditions from the past in its newly-released digitally archived films.

Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust’s (HEART) digital heritage project has released nine films showing how Christmas was celebrated in East Anglia and Normandy in France from 1930 to 1970.

The use of the French archive footage was inspired by Norwich’s twinning with the town of Rouen, filmed in colour and black and white.

Jane Jarvis, the digital heritage project manager, said everyone had special memories of childhood Christmases.

She added: “But how wonderful that some of these memories have been captured on film, preserved and now digitised for more people to share.

“I hope all generations will enjoy watching these clips with the added bonus of seeing how the French used to celebrate – the wonder of Christmas can be seen on the faces of children wherever they are.”

These films are the latest to be added to the Archive Alive website which holds film records of life during the last century.

One film was captured in 1930 called the Blaxland family Christmas, shot by Christopher Blaxland, showing a family Christmas dinner given by Norwich surgeon Athelston Blaxland, at their house in All Saints’ Green, Norwich, the former BBC offices and studios.

Another film records letters being sent to Father Christmas in 1948, filmed by French amateur film enthusiast Henri Sergent and showing his son and daughters writing a letter to Santa.

And in 1954 a film was made of a Christmas party for disabled people at Coronation Hall in Norwich. It was shot by local amateur filmmaker Geoffrey Campling.

Visit www.archivealive.org for more archive footage.