Moving Images from Glasgow’s History

kelvin hall moving image archive
Images: Moving Images and Sound Archive
National Library of Scotland

Glasgow’s heritage is distinct and something to be celebrated – which is just what the Moving Image and Sound Archive at the Kelvinhall hopes to display for all Glaswegians, and our visitors. With a popular movie package showing Glasgow through the decades from 1902 – 1985, there’s something here for all generations to reminisce, or fascinate over, finds Rory MacNeish.

If you walk down to the end of a long corridor in Kelvinhall you can find 130 years of Glasgow’s rich history at your fingertips. 

Kelvin hall moving image archive
kelvin hall moving image archive

Housed there is the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive where an impressive facility allows visitors to watch a range of film, video or digital material neatly categorised on user-friendly screens. 
‘We have an excellent cultural offer that anyone can attend,’ says Hannah, an access and events team leader at the archive. ‘Let’s watch the films – they’re part of our history.’ 

It is a joy to spend an afternoon scrolling through clips there. Footage ranges from Oscar-winning documentaries showing shipyard workers labouring amongst vast, clanking machinery to a Channel 4 programme featuring a hen party going full pelt in 1980s Partick. 

‘You can track the transformation of Glasgow through film in our archive,’ says Hannah. She mentions that many visitors are surprised to find themselves deeply moved viewing footage. 

‘You do get people crying quite a lot. Because they’re watching a period of time or place that they can really relate to. Especially stuff that’s gone.’

But it’s not just those with long memories who enjoy the archive. Hannah mentions: ‘Our biggest group is families. It’s a really lovely inter-generational space.’ The archive features curated collections of films for children and arranges family days on Saturday afternoons.

And for all visitors there are also monthly screenings, a sensory room, workshops and large viewing rooms which can be booked to watch footage compiled by the archive’s curators. All of which is free to use. 

‘If you wanted to see some Gaelic films you could get in touch and say: “Can we arrange a viewing?”’, explains Hannah.

‘The amount of preservation and love that is put into digitising and storing this footage – it’s a special thing,’ says Hannah. ‘But it’s Scotland’s archive, it belongs to the people.’

Return to Culture and Arts Articles


SanFair Newsletter

The latest on what’s moving world – delivered straight to your inbox