Sep 10, 2019







Britain has a deep and rich history of life captured on film. Much of it has not been seen in generations. On the back of its hugely successful Britain on Film project, the BFI has launched a crowdsourcing platform, BFI Contribute. The BFI Britain on Film Mapping Mission at is an online community that everyone can visit, to take an active part in the BFI’s research, by sharing local expertise to unlock answers and make real discoveries to enrich our knowledge of, and understanding about, our shared screen heritage.

Whether a local historian or someone simply interested in the ever-changing face of their local community and surroundings, the new crowdsourcing initiative empowers eagle eyed members of the public to volunteer any information or stories they may have on countless unknown or ‘lost’ locations and landmarks by searching for films via Many of these films feature locations, landmarks and other points of interest that may be unknown and which local users will be able to provide information about, thus adding valuable new data to these missing pieces of our shared cultural history.

BFI Contribute stems from the incredible mass audience engagement with the interactive Britain on Film mapand a desire from the public to share their own stories, with over 10,000 films spanning the last 120 years digitised and made available for free on BFI Player. Drawn from the collections of the BFI National Archive and representing films from regional and national archive partners from all corners of the UK, this large, but curated, selection of geo-tagged films, mostly unknown to audiences, let the public find films local to them.

Since its launch in 2015, Britain on Film has amassed over 70 million video views with 78% reach outside London/South East England, making it a truly national success. It is exactly the type of engagement that the BFI had hoped for but on a much greater scale than anyone had anticipated.

As the views for Britain on Film racked up into the millions, feedback from audiences showed that they had found something directly meaningful and inherently rewarding to them on a local level. A nostalgia for place and purpose, paired with an increasingly altruistic public appetite turned viewers into interactive local experts, who wanted to share knowledge and histories which would correct, amplify and react to Britain on Film. It soon became clear that direct contribution by the public themselves would be the most efficient and most engaging


way to collate and catalogue the input of this local expertise back into the project. BFI Contribute –

Colette McFadden BFI, Head of Heritage Programmes says, “We had such an amazing response to Britain on Film, we knew we had to find a meaningful way to harness all the wonderful stories and data being shared and enable people to tell us even more about the hidden histories and locations in our films. This led to the creation of BFI Contribute. The platform empowers people to interact with their screen heritage, be expert witnesses totheir own local history and share it with the rest of the nation. What a great time to get your geek on.”

The launch of BFI Contribute coincides with the 25th anniversary of Heritage Open Days, England’s largest festival of history and culture. Reflecting the rich and diverse cultural heritage of England, the festival is a unique and powerful partnership spanning the public, private and voluntary sectors. It’s a chance for communitiesnationwide to come together to learn, explore and have fun by sharing the treasures on their doorstep at venues across the country through a range of activities and events.

The theme for this year’s Heritage Open Days festival, 13-22 September, is People Power, empowering communities at a local level to tell the stories they want told and encouraging people to celebrate participation, playing a direct and active role in maintaining their cultural heritage. These core values that resonate both with the BFI and Heritage Open Days reflect a shared ambition to enrich and preserve cultural heritage on a local and national level for the future.

Annabelle Thorpe, Heritage Open Days Manager says, “We’re delighted to be supporting this extraordinary initiative from the BFI, which chimes perfectly with our core belief, that history belongs to all of us, and that everyone has a story to tell. I encourage all our organisers, visitors and volunteers and the general public at largeto get involved with BFI Contribute, it’s a unique opportunity to lend local community voices to our rich and diverse history.”

Everyone is invited to join the BFI Contribute community. It’s open to all to watch, spot, plot and share thehidden histories and locations in the films. We want to find out as much as we can about Britain on Film. This is our mission. So, whether you spot your local high street, your great, great relative or maybe some of yourfavourite places or ‘lost’ locations, we’d really like to know more. With over 10,000 archive films spanning the whole of the UK there is truly something for everyone.

Come join us on our mapping mission and provide the missing link to unlock the nation’s shared screen heritage at


Spot It

Find and watch a film.

Plot It


If you recognise a street or location, plot it on the map.

Got It

The map is updated once others have confirmed the same location.
As well as adding new information via the Contribute site, users can also add their information directly via BFI

Player by pressing the Know this place? button under the film viewer when watching a title.

The BFI Britain on Film project has been made possible by funding from the National Lottery and the additional support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Herne Bay Newsreel – 1953

Herne Bay (1953)



Is any of 1950’s Herne Bay recognizabletoday? Can you spot any streets and buildings that still exist?

Do you have memories of the storm?

Were you at the coronation celebrations?

Are you one of the children featured?


Chorlton Road, Sponsored Walks and Youth Centre Construction


Manchester (1969)


Walking Race

York (1938)

Is any modern Charlton Road recognizable here?

Were you on one of the sponsored walks?

Streets of York, but which streets?


The Pub with No Name

Somerset (1964)


Do you remember the pub? Where was it?


Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club 1

Cardiff (1960)




The BFI is the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image. It is a cultural charity that:
• Curates and presents the greatest international public programme of World Cinema for audiences; incinemas, at festivals and online

  • Cares for the BFI National Archive – the most significant film and television archive in the world
  • Actively seeks out and supports the next generation of filmmakers
  • Works with Government and industry to make the UK the most creatively exciting and prosperous place to make film internationallyFounded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Josh Berger CBE.


    The BFI National Archive was founded in 1935 and has grown to become the one of the largest and most important collections of film and television in the world with over 180,000 films and 750,000 television programmes. For over 80 years the BFI has been an international leader in film preservation and guardian ofBritain’s unparalleled film and TV heritage. The BFI is an innovator in presenting films to audiences in new anddynamic ways, from cinemas to film festivals, outdoor events to online video-on-demand. At the heart of all itsactivities is the BFI’s central aim to ensure that everyone in the UK has access to the widest possible range offilm and their own film heritage.

    That heritage includes all-time great British directors Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean and Powell and Pressburger; and the rich vein of documentary filmmaking, in which Britain led the world, including the lyrical work ofHumphrey Jennings. The archive also boasts a significant collection of filmmakers’ papers as well as extensivestills, posters and production and costume designs along with original scripts, press books and related ephemera.

    Expert teams undertake the time-consuming and complex task of restoring films at the BFI John Paul Getty JrConservation Centre in Hertfordshire. The BFI’s most precious film materials are kept in optimum conditions inthe world-leading Master Film Store in Warwickshire.


    The BFI National Archive will join Heritage Open Days 25th birthday celebrations with a dedicated open day on 15 September. A rare opportunity to tour the vaults and see the specialist skills and technology used to preserve the nation’s film and TV heritage. BFI staff will be hosting talks, demos, exhibits and mini-tours, all celebrating the National Collection and those integral to the work of this world-class film archive. For further details of the Heritage Open Day at the BFI National Archive in Berkhamsted:

Does any of the Tiger Bay depicted here still exist?
Can you recognize any streets or landmarks that have survived?

Do you know anyone in the film – were you a guest at the wedding?



BFI Player is a ground-breaking video on demand service which offers a uniquely diverse range of films, from the latest releases to the rarest silent cinema classics, giving UK audiences a rich and rewarding digital film experience. The Victorian Film collection is accessible through the BFI Player.


Britain on Film is one of the largest and most complex archival projects ever undertaken by the BFI and one of the most successful with over 70 million online views to date Unlocking film heritage for everyone in the UK was a key strategic priority for the BFI (2013-2018). Bringing together a partnership with Regional and National Film Archives and rights holder collections across the UK, this work included a sophisticated programme of data capture, cataloguing, copying to archival standards, meticulous preservation of original materials, thorough searching of archives across the country, new state-of- the-art equipment and digital storage facilities and the transfer of films to the BFI’s online video platform, BFI Player.

Unlocking Film Heritage and Britain on Film have been made possible thanks to £15 million funding from the National Lottery and the additional support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.


The English Regional Film Archives and other National Film Archives (listed below) hold significant collections of film and video material specifically relevant to their regions or hold dedicated collections such as Imperial War Museums, preserved in specialised storage facilities and made widely available for education, research, communities and the wider public.

UEA’s East Anglian Film Archive
Imperial War Museums
London’s Screen Archives
Media Archive for Central England at the University of Lincoln North East Film Archive

North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive
National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive
Screen Archive South East

South West Film & Television Archive at The Box, Plymouth National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales
Wessex Film and Sound Archive
Yorkshire Film Archive


Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. We do this by funding the charitable work of organisations with the ideas and ability to achieve positive change. We are happy to be supporting Britain on Film – a significant, UK-wide film archive project, which will make titles from the BFI National Archive and national and regional screen archives available to the British public, offering a unique opportunity for insight and reflection on places, communities and histories throughout the UK.

The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK. We make grants of £30 – £35 million annually towards a wide range of work within the arts, children and young people, the environment and social change. We also operate a £26 million Finance Fund which invests in organisations that aim to deliver both a financial return and a social benefit.


Posted in

Recent posts