A heritage film archive will be launched this week which compares life in East Anglia throughout the 20th century with events captured on camera across the channel in Normandy.

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The online resource, named Archive Alive, will be brought to life by the Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART) on Wednesday.

It showcases a unique timeline including hundreds of digitised archive films from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, along with those recorded in Upper Normandy in France, dating from as far back as 1896 to the 1980s.

The archive preserves a shared social history including all manner of family events, public celebrations, places and people.

Users of the website at www.archivealive.org will be able to scroll through the dates to transport themselves from one decade to the next and select films by theme, place or year.

Video Archive: Bobbie Grows Up (1920)

Bobbie Grows Up is an example of an early ‘home movie’ collection documenting the early years of Bobbie Woods-Taylor, born 29th February 1920.

Bobbie’s father George was a press photographer in Fleet Street for many years, and in 1911 joined the Topical Film Company as news editor. After the First World War he joined Cinechrome Ltd and became the official photographer of the Prince of Wales’ tour of India in 1922. With all his experiences, George was able to bring a camera home and filmed this beautiful record of family life at a time when home movies were a rarity.

This is the first instalment in the series, filmed in 1920. The family had just moved into a large, new house in Thorpe Bay near Southend where much of this film is shot.

Bobbie Grows Up is one of the many films in the www.archivealive.org collection that tells the story of family life in our region throughout the 20th century.

To create the archive, Norwich HEART has worked in partnership with two major film archives from both sides of the channel – the East Anglian Film Archive and Pôle Image Haute-Normandie, based in Norwich’s twin city of Rouen. Jane Jarvis, digital heritage project manager at Norwich HEART, hopes the archive will become a “source of enjoyment, education and engagement for all generations”.

She said: “With so many films at the East Anglian Film Archive and in Rouen now digitised, it has been a joy to be able to access them more easily and curate this moving image timeline of our region.

“Archive Alive is showcasing some of the ‘best bits’ of our lives caught on film over the last century providing a unique record of how we lived our lives on both sides of the channel.”

From Wednesday until October 21, visitors to The Forum in Norwich can explore the website on a large interactive touch screen in the Atrium.

And from today until November 3 a selection from Norwich HEART’s digital heritage archive will be displayed on the big screen at Fusion.

The EU-funded digital heritage project is part of the Interreg IVA Channel Programme, which aims to foster “common citizenship” and a sense of belonging to the cross-border area between England and France.

The website at www.archivealive.org will go online from Wednesday. Five selected videos from the exhibition will be shown online throughout the week – starting today.

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