Hardy’s Tess, Melplash Show and a Bridport pram race

DORSET’s media charity Windrose is bringing a remarkable programme of rare and previously unseen archive film to Dorchester Corn Exchange on Saturday 6th April, at 7.30pm.

The films include Gertrude Bugler – Thomas Hardy’s original Tess on stage in Dorchester in the 1920s – talking in later life, and her sister Norrie Woodhall, also a member of the Hardy Players, who died in 2011, at the age of 105, having helped to revive the group as the New Hardy Players to celebrate her 100th birthday. The evening will include Dorset films which have not previously been shown in public, and which have now been digitised, thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant.

Among its many media projects over the past 35 years, Windrose has been saving old cine films of local life to enable them to be seen again by the community. This is now a major historic archive of moving images, the nearest thing to truly living history that exists.

As Windrose approaches its 250th show, in partnership with Dorset History Centre, the media charity has secured Heritage Lottery funding to digitise and organise much of its archive, enabling it to dig more deeply into the archive and bring out films that have not been seen before.

The Dorchester evening will include previously unseen films of Dorchester in the 1950s, moving Wimborne Model Town in the 1960s, the Queen’s 1952 visit to Sherborne, the 1957 Melplash Show, 1953 coronation celebrations in Wareham and Dorchester, farming near Weymouth in the 1960s and an entertaining Bridport pram race in the 1950s.

A short travel film from the 1940s visits Corfe Castle, Wareham, Lulworth, Dorchester and Swanage. The Bridport railway and paddle steamers are also featured.

The evening will include favourite films from previous Windrose shows, back to the 1910s with a vivid film of one of the famous Verwood potteries, 1930s films of Corfe Castle by two local singers, accompanied by the memories of Dorset sculptor Mary Spencer-Watson, and Dorchester streets in the early 1960s, showing how different it was only 55 years ago.

Windrose Rural Media Trust is celebrating its 35th year and the show is being presented in conjunction with Dorset History Centre, highlighting the centre’s involvement in the preservation of the important Windrose archive.