Colchester on Film – Archive Footage

Colchester On Film Archive Footage

 This section contains links to  a range of archive footage from as long ago  as 1914 through to the 1970’s.

If you come across other films that you think might be suitable to add to this collection then please get in touch using

Sixty Years of Colchester on Film

This compilation was put together by Bernard Polley and other members of the now defunct Colchester Cine Club. It was produced in the form of a DVD and made available for sale, with the proceeds going to St. Helena Hospice.

A Town To Be Proud Of

This is a film made for Colchester Civic Society by members of the Cine Club in the nineteen seventies named Colchester A Town To Be Proud Of.  This has only recently been converted to mp4 from the original super 8 film.  Unfortunately it has no soundtrack, but it still serves to provide footage of the period, including Colchester Lathe Company and a ship being unloaded at the Moler Brickworks on Hythe Quay, now long gone and replaced with University of Essex accommodation buildings.

Colchester 1937 The Coronation Of KingGeorge

This is short clip taken from  Sixty Years of Colchester On Film. It shows the town decorated for the Coronation in 1937.

The Opening of the Mercury Theatre

This is an extract from Sixty Years of Colchester on Film.

The Redevelopment of Colchester Town Centre during the 1970's and 80's

This six minute clip from Sixty Years Of Colchester on Film covers the redevelopment of St. John’s Street Bus Station, Lion Walk and the transformation of the area around the Shewel Road Library into Culver Square.,

Wivenhoe to Brightlingsea Railway on the BFI player

On the Essex line from Wivenhoe to Brightingsea, Guard Proctor checks for tickets as passengers share the wonderful view of yacht racing on the River Colne from their carriage.

This is an amateur 17 minute film from 1963.

The Opening of the Oyster season 1920

Wearing giant jewellery, ribbon snipping, and baby kissing are just some of the mayoral responsibilities often performed on camera. But come the first Friday of September in Colchester, the Mayor can be seen getting his hands dirty with the first oyster catch of the season – before guzzling down gin, gingerbread and shellfish for assorted crowds and newsreel cameras.

A one minute  Pathe Gazette film from the BFI player.

A Colchester United Football Match filmed on March 20th 1948

This is a well shot and edited film of a Colchester United match which also shows the large crowd arriving at Layer Road and packing into the ground.

Films of Colchester in the East Anglian Film Archive

The following links will take you to the web pages from where you can view the film footage.

What Have They Done To Our Town

This is probably the most outstanding of the films about Colchester in the nineteen seventies. It is another Bernard Polley production  which documents some of the many changes and developments Colchester underwent during this period. It concludes by saying: “The author of a town guide book from the 1870’s wrote: The general appearance of the town is pleasing and respectable and there is a pervading air of antiquity. The mid nineteen seventies are obviously years of change and hopefully before too long our town will again see some stability, which will bring that respectability.”

With the demolition of hundreds of houses to make way for the dual carriageways and the development of the Lion walk Shopping Centre the town certainly underwent enormous changes in this decade. However the changes and developments continue and that pleasing air of antiquity has probably gone for good!

How The Regal Was Built 1930 - 1931 , Colchester (Essex)

Billed as ‘an interesting record of its construction, from its inception to completion’, this documentary traces the erection of the Regal Cinema in Colchester, a 1,446-seat auditorium designed by architect Cecil Masey.

Views of the site prior to construction feature a large sign advertising the establishment of a ‘super sound cinema’ as work begins with the demolition of surrounding buildings. Rubble is removed as foundations are laid out and steel supports are surrounded with brickwork. As the structure reaches its peak, workers calmly navigate its precarious steel framework and the film concludes with a site visit by the Essex, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire chapter of the Society of Architects.

Colchester Oyster Festival 1959 , Colchester

This film shows the annual tradition of the Oyster Feast held at the Moot Hall in Colchester by the Mayor.

The first shot shows the exterior of Colchester’s Town Hall. Next we see the oysters being prepared and then the Mayor greeting guests. After this we see guests gathered around long tables in the Moot Hall, a shot along one of the tables and of the guests sat at the head table.

Street Scenes Colchester 1960

Shots of bustling streets in Colchester, with heavy traffic and large crowds.

Crouch St. Colchester 1961 , Colchester

A shot of a street sign sets the scene, as various views of Crouch Street, Colchester are shown, including the Regal Cinema, the shopfronts of Frank Wright the butchers and the Boulevard Doux coffee lounge and the forecourt of Scott’s Garage and Service.

Queen Street Bus Station 1964

This film shows shots of the buses, staff and passengers using the bus station in Colchester in 1964.

Vox Pops With Students On The Recent Troubles 1970 , Colchester

Several students of the University of Essex react to media’s representation of them regarding a recent strike. There are shots of the university buildings. Filmed for an Anglia Television news story.

Children's Matinee 1914

A young audience outside the Vaudeville Cinema in Colchester before the children’s matinee on October 3rd, 1914. The Vaudeville became the Empire Cinema and was situated in Mersea Road in the area that is now St. Botolph’s Circus.

There are many shots, including overhead, of the waiting for admission to the cinema. The commissionaires struggle to keep them in line. Some children are lined up for the camera. The camera pans the queue as a whole. The shots show the children some well behaved, others ‘showing off’. There is a shot of the queue reaching down the road. There are film and war posters on the wall behind the queue. One of these advertises film of the Germans occupying Louvain. The front of the cinema is shown and the commissionaires and cinema staff line up for the camera. As the film is shot life in Colchester continues. People pass in front of the camera and a Co-operative Society handcart is pushed past. The children are given a cue to cheer and wave to the camera. At the end the children leave the cinema, still trying to get themselves on film.

Colchester Repertory Theatre: Preparations c.1960

Excerpted from an Anglia Television production entitled ‘Final Curtain: An Inquiry into the State of East Anglian Theatre’, this item features preparations for a performance at the Colchester Repertory Theatre.

Manager Robert Digby stands outside the Colchester Repertory Theatre, which is housed in the town’s Albert Hall and Art Gallery. Placards that are outside, display the range of plays performed by the versatile company. Meanwhile, backstage is busy with preparations for their latest effort, as actresses sit at their mirrors applying makeup and stage hands apply the final coat of paint to a backdrop.