Stir memories with this new online archive of evocative films

A new service that brings memories to life through archive films and newsreels is now available for watching at home and for care homes, hospitals, public libraries and community groups.

Living Memories Online offers access to a range of information and social history programmes and newsreels from the late 1930s to the 1970s, which can be streamed, with online reminiscence resources being added soon to help trigger conversations.

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It aims to bring the past to life for older people, the people who care for them and anyone interested in UK social and industrial history, including schools.

Founder Brian Norris said: “Archive films can prompt older people to share memories and life experiences. Long-term memory is usually one of their strengths, so reminiscence encourages them to communicate and feel more confident about themselves. Living Memories Online will make reminiscence activity much more widely and easily available.

“This is important in combating isolation, especially now that COVID-19 means that many elderly people are unable to access community groups.”

The videos include numerous programmes licensed from the archive of Greenpark Productions Ltd, established in 1938 by Walter Greenwood (photo: Greenpark Images)

Living Memories is a not-for-profit social enterprise, developed by Brian and his wife, Leonore, after long practical research with older people, including those with dementia. It publishes DVDs and reminiscence resources and for some time has been running Tea and Memory groups where archive programmes and newsreels are shown to community groups.

Brian added: “At the group sessions we have found that many older people, including those living with dementia, who had previously been reluctant to talk, started to reminisce about their lives and shared experiences and to make new friends and get to know their neighbours.”

Local NHS staff started referring people to the sessions, and demand was so high that Living Memories became an online service.

The videos include numerous programmes licensed from the archive of Greenpark Productions Ltd, established in 1938 by Walter Greenwood.

There are also hundreds of programmes licensed from collections such as The Imperial War Museum, Beaulieu National Motor Museum, archival film suppliers Screenocean, Clips and Footage and Huntley Archives and Reuters which made newsreels shown in cinemas before television was widely adopted. More than 1,700 titles are currently available on Living Memories Online and more will be added each month.

The programmes can be accessed on a PC, laptop, tablet or mobile phone and can then be cast to smart TVs for group viewing. The Living Memories Online portal can be searched by decade, topic and subject and users can make a collection of their own favourites, which can be shared with other users.

The home page at livingmemories.imagencloud.com offers newsreels and clips free for trial viewing, plus the ability to subscribe for £4 per month. Annual subscriptions, which include reminiscence resources, will also be available.