The Talking Pictures project was devoted to collecting oral histories from older people related to their earlier experiences of Brighton’s Duke of York cinema. It was vitally important that the testimonies of the people that remember this cultural phenomenon were gathered and shared. This project provided unique and rich primary materials to support new studies in this field.
Cinema-going was THE leisure activity in the middle of the 20th Century - evidenced by the dozens of cinemas that were in existence in Brighton & Hove - which fell into steep decline from the mid-1960s onwards. The people that remember this cultural phenomenon are now, at the very least, in their 50s, and it is vitally important that their testimonies are gathered and shared. The Duke of York’s Picturehouse is Brighton’s last remaining link with this golden age of cinema-going. Opened in 1910 it is the UK’s oldest operating purpose built cinema. Grade II listed, the Duke of York’s is a Brighton institution, but also one of the country’s most important and renowned cinemas.
The Talking Pictures project, was devoted to collecting oral histories related to the Duke of York’s in the run up to its centenary in 2010 and the wider history of cinema-going in Brighton in the 20th Century. Oral history is the recording of people's memories. It is the living history of everyone's unique life experiences. It is also a vital tool for our understanding of the recent past. It is also widely acknowledged that with many elders suffering from isolation, having their experiences validated and brought to a wider audience enhances well-being and connectivity.
Screen Archive South East (SASE) founded in 1992, is based at the University of Brighton and is the region’s public sector archive. It locates, collects, preserves and provides access to screen material related to the South East and of general relevance to screen history. SASE co-presents with the Duke of York’s, CINECITY The Brighton Film Festival, the region’s leading film festival which takes place every Nov/Dec. This ‘screen cluster’ of festival/archive/cinema has informed the formation of new degree courses at the University’s Grand Parade site.
The Talking Pictures project involved ‘knowledge exchange’ on a number of levels including from elders to students and the wider community; from specialist oral history practitioners to students; and from film academics helping inform the oral history practitioners on elements of cinema history to guide their questioning.
Lead Project Worker
John Riches, Director, QueenSpark Books
Stella Cardus, QueenSpark Management Committee member
University of Brighton
Dr. Frank Gray, Director, Screen Archive South East and Course Leader BA Screen Studies, University of Brighton,
Tim Brown. Course Leader MFA Moving Image, University of Brighton