11 June, 2009

Exploring the museum's secret warehouse

Actually, there are two warehouses, and they're not actually that secret. But our 'offsite stores', full of things we can't fit in the collection rooms at Bradford, are places you won't see on a tour of the museum -- they're too far away, being situated at Black Dyke (a former textile mill a few miles outside of Bradford centre) and Swindon.

Toni Booth from Collections Management was happy to take me on a little guided tour of Black Dyke. It's a foreboding place: floor upon floor of gigantic warehouse that puts you in mind of that final scene from Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Old TVs, movie posters, laserdiscs, computers, TV scenery and props... everywhere you look there's another fascinating treasure from media's past.

I had to keep my hands in my pockets, though. Pretty much everything is snugly smothered in bubblewrap and of course there is no touching on pain of something even more unpleasant than what people get when they open the Ark Of The Covenant.

35mm films. Hundreds of them. If you've seen 35mm film cannisters before, you'll realise that these relatively small discs don't contain enough film for full-length movies. That's because this is our archive of TV commericals.

A box of the original weather symbols used by Yorkshire TV -- in the days before electronic screens became common.

This will trigger memories of Roland Rat and Mad Lizzie for those of a certain age. We've actually got another of these original logo boards from the 1980s TV-AM breakfast show hanging above TV Heaven at Bradford.

Opening up the boxed Akley 35mm Cinecamera: just one object from the Sarosh Collection, which features hundreds of cameras and projectors. We acquired it all just over two years ago.

It's amazing what we found lurking in Black Dyke -- including this, the original animation set-up of animator Bob "Henry's Cat" Godfrey. Donated by Godfrey himself, it comes complete with the Apple II that controlled it all.

There's a store of videodiscs -- the gigantic precursors to DVDs -- at Black Dyke. These aren't the more commonly-known Laserdiscs: they're CEDs, developed by RCA and housed in a non-removable plastic caddy.

Yes, it's the original Dapple from BBC schools programme Playschool. The rest of the gang – Humpty Dumpty, Jemimah and the rest – are on display at TV Heaven in Bradford.

That's all just scraping the surface -- more pictures soon!


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