Washington on Film

Washington on Film copyright NEFA

The North East Film Archive (NEFA) have teamed up with the Washington Trust to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Washington becoming a New Town. To mark the milestone, the archive have brought together footage spanning over 50 years reflecting Washington’s rich industrial past and its development as one of the UK’s New Towns, that promised a bright new future in the 1960s.

"A town is composed of people - not of concrete and bricks. The New Town will be what the people of Washington make it. All the planners and builders can do is to provide the homes, the work places, the leisure facilities, the social amenities, and the environment for a full and happy life."

A quote from Sir James Steel, Chairman, Washington Development Corporation

'Washington on Film' takes place on Saturday 28th February, at Biddick Academy at 3pm, an opportunity for the people of Washington today to explore the changing landscape, architecture, history and culture of their town. What will they make of it 50 years on?

From Washington Old Hall, ancestral home of the first President of the United States of America, to the Washington of tomorrow that housed the neon dazzle of The Galleries shopping mall, and from a rich mining heritage to the high tech Nissan motor industry, producers of the first Bluebird that accelerated onto brand new highways around Washington New Town, there will be something for everyone.

Graham Relton, Archive Manager said: "The North East Film Archive are working hard to grow audiences in the North East, the screening in Washington is a great way for us to get the footage we care for back out into the community in which it was made. Captured on film over the last 50 years are the people of Washington, at work, at school, at play, local events and landmarks to enjoy in a special screening, and who knows, people might even spot a familiar face."

The free event will include a number of professional films made by Newcastle-based Turners Film Productions for the Washington Development Corporation. Washington Tomorrow c.1966 introduces the master plan for the New Town, whilst 'Washington: The First Seven Years' reports back on progress in 1972 for a town planned for the 'motor age' and new industrial zones. 'The Washington Way', made in the mid-1970s, is a “blend of the best of the old with the new”, from coal miners who retrained for the new manufacturing and service industries to Princess Anne officially opening The Galleries on the 23rd July 1974, a huge shopping mall complex. And finally, 'Don’t Forget' celebrates the machines of a lost age of steam and mining and commemorates the opening of the Washington ‘F’ Pit as a museum in 1976, where once over 1500 miners had produced nearly half a million tons of coal in a year. 

NEFA will also take you on the last railway journey on the Washington to Usworth line, a victim of the infamous Beeching axe in 1963, and welcome the Queen to Washington in 1977 with an award winning film from amateur filmmaker Michael Gough. Were you there that day? Perhaps you were in one of the region’s top juvenile jazz bands who presented a colorful parade for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee visit?

John Rostron Executive Director of Washington Trust said "Washington Trust is pleased to be working with NE Film Archive as part of its HLF funded Washington 50 project.  The partnership has raised awareness of the project with over 42,000 people spread across the globe and more than 22,000 people viewing the trailer promoting the screening on the 28th February. Through Facebook we have over-achieved our targets and we could not have done this without the support of the Archive. This is a classic example of partnership working delivering and engaging local people in their local history."

Thanks to support from the Washington Trust, the North East Film Archive has also digitised a previously unseen film made about Washington’s unique genealogy story. Highlights from 'The Washington Trail', which features Prime Minister James Callaghan and the 39th United States’ President Jimmy Carter on a visit to Washington in 1977. Extracts from the film will be screened for the first time since the 1970s at the ‘Washington on Film’ show. To coincide with the event the full film will be made available on the NEFA website.

'Washington on Film' takes place at Biddick Academy, Biddick Lane, Washington, NE38 8AL on Saturday 28 February 3pm and will last approximately 2 hours including an interval.

Places are limited so please reserve your tickets either by calling 0191 2193884 or in person at the Washington Millennium Centre, The Oval, Concord.

Thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Film Hub North the ‘Washington on Film’ screening will be free of charge.

You can also reserve tickets and find out more at the Washington 50 Facebook page.

A trailer of the Washington screening can be seen on the North East Film Archive website.

The trailer has already been viewed over 22,000 times on the Washington 50 on Facebook.

Find out more about the North East Film Archive.

Find out more about Washington Old Hall.

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