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Glengarry Topical News No. 17 (1934)

Courtesy of North West Film Archive

Main image of Glengarry Topical News No. 17 (1934)
16mm, black and white, silent, 15 mins
Production CompanyPreston Brothers

Local North West newsreel, featuring items on the (then) new Queensway Tunnel, Manchester City's FA Cup win and a Royal visit to Manchester and Liverpool.

Show full synopsis

This is one of a series of local newsreels - or 'topicals' as they were known - produced in the 1930s by Stockport-based brothers Harold and Sidney Preston. The brothers, who worked in a family-owned tailor business, filmed many local newsreels in and around Stockport and the North West, as well as home movies shot on family holidays and cruises.

The Liverpool scenes in no. 17, which were shot during a trip to Merseyside in 1934, include records of two historically significant events in the urban development of the modern city: the completion of the new Queensway Tunnel linking Liverpool with Birkenhead (for footage of the opening ceremony on 18th July 1934 see Opening of the Mersey Tunnel, 1934) and the opening of the Liverpool-East Lancashire Road, Britain's first purpose-built high speed intercity road. The film documents the mass public walkthrough that took place in March 1934, when 80,000 people each paid 6d to walk from Liverpool to Birkenhead for the first time, with the proceeds going to charity. The sequence ends with views of crowds streaming out of the tunnel opening at Birkenhead. The tradition of the tunnel walkthrough was continued in 1971 upon completion of the Kingsway, or Wallasey Tunnel, footage of which was filmed by the amateur filmmaker and collector, Angus Tilston.

Heading back across the River Mersey, the remaining Liverpool footage - and tour itinerary of the Preston family - continues with views shot of and from a Liverpool-bound ferry, including a panorama of the iconic architectural landmarks known as the 'Three Graces' (the Liver, Cunard, and Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Buildings) and shots of the famous Royal Iris ferry as it steams towards Liverpool. A view shot from Pier Head looking up Water Street captures the hustle and bustle of everyday life in what was at the time a thriving hub of the port-city, with the busy trams and elevated track of the dockside Overhead Railway reminders of the social and economic centrality of the waterfront in the urban imaginary of the city in the first half of the 20th century. Note also, to the left of the frame, the blackened stone of the Liver Building which, in contrast to the whiter and notably cleaner building visible at Pier Head today, provides a further indicator of the heavy industrial and maritime activity that was centred around the docks and waterfront in the 1930s.

Les Roberts

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Video Clips
Complete film (3:02)
Opening of the Mersey Tunnel (1934)
Liverpool: Across the Mersey
Liverpool: Shaping the City