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Bampton presentation

THM Curator, Mike Smith presents cine films featuring Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation to the Bampton Archive.

In the decades either side of WW2, one of the biggest names in hockey was undoubtedly Marjorie Pollard. She played cricket for England as well.

Marjorie was a player, coach, journalist, publisher and film maker. It is difficult to know which was her greatest passion but she edited and wrote most of the magazine Hockey Field – it was a weekly publication in those days. At the same time, right back in the 1930s, she was making films. Many of them were for coaching and they were loaned out to clubs and schools by the governing body of women’s hockey, the AEWHA. Marjorie also filmed international matches including the famous 1938 match versus Wales at the Oval. It is famous because she filmed alongside the BBC television cameras who were broadcasting live the first ever international team sports match. The BBC were covering it in black and white of course but Marjorie was filming in colour! We know this because we have a copy of the film in the museum’s collection.

This leads to the reason behind this short article. Shortly before her death Marjorie left her hockey collection to The Hockey Museum. This included dozens of reels of film with some of the cans still bearing postage stamps from where they had been sent off to clubs and schools. We realised that these films were potentially fragile so it wasn't until this last year, when THM was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to digitise the films, that we have been able to view them.

This is where this story really comes to life! Amongst the reels were two marked “Coronation 1953”. When the films were digitised we found that they were of the Coronation preparations and celebrations in the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire where Marjorie lived. Nothing to do with hockey but probably of great interest to the good people of Bampton. The village is quite famous as it is in one of the scenes for Downton Abbey and they have a small museum and archive. When we contacted them they could not believe the story. We told them that as the films had nothing to do with hockey they really belonged to Bampton, Marjorie's beloved home.

On 10 November, our Curator Mike Smith journeyed to Bampton for the premiere of the Bampton Coronation. No 'sneak previews' were allowed but the event was well publicised and the village hall was packed. Mike gave a short talk on how important a person Marjorie was and the films were shown. There were lots of 'oohs and aahs' as people recognised themselves, their family and friends. The evening culminated with Mike presenting the original cine films and the digitised video files to the Bampton archive.

A large part of the rationale of Heritage Lottery funding is to share the outcome of the projects they fund, increasing public access to the material produced. After all, the grant money they distribute is generated through the public’s purchasing of lottery tickets. At THM we have some wonderful, vintage hockey films that, now digitised, will be used for generations to come. However, in the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire where Marjorie lived, they have part of their heritage returned to them.

Mike Smith, 22 December 2017

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