The Dockers' Umbrella

A little culture was enjoyed recently by several SMRS members, in the event more little than most of us expected. Apparently in 1897, before even SMRS was thought of, Lumiere Brothers filmed sections of the Liverpool Overhead Railway, from inside one of the carriages. Liverpool University have acquired copies of the footage, and one Dr Kodeck has analysed every inch of it with Teutonic thoroughness. At Crosby cinema a public presentation was given of the results, in the form of a lecture by the said doctor in cooperation with National Museums Liverpool.

His main interest apparently was using maps and clever software to link the moving images directly to the buildings and other structures along the line. Not the most exciting research one might think, but what might have turned out to be a rather dry presentation was enlivened by the presenter's obvious enthusiasm for the subject and his desire to preserve the archive for the good of his adopted city. The actual showing of the film was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it experience, the four clips lasting less than five minutes in total. Something to do with the amount of film that hand-cranked cameras of the period could carry, and no doubt the amount of cranking that could be undertaken before repetitive strain injury set in.

The finale was a repeat of one clip 'improved' to show how it might look from a vantage point inside the carriage, complete with images of wooden doors and windows and a dum-de-dum sound track. The Liverpool museum trying just a little too hard perhaps.