Vintage footage of Fenland published by British Pathe film archives

ARCHIVE films of Fenland dating back to the 19th Century have been made available to the public.

Dozens of newsreels held by the British Pathe film archive have been made available online.

Just a few clicks on the library’s website will unearth hours of footage which feature a water diviner from Chatteris, the eviction of a school teacher in Benwick and a stunning performance by the Wisbech Male Voice Choir.

But British Pathe’s general manager Alastair White called for residents’ in-depth local knowledge to help with their records.

He said: “We are asking for local people who are much more knowledgeable than we are to let us know if they can add any information.”

Mr White said his organisation has already been inundated with e-mails and calls from people adding important details to their bank and correcting information.

He added: “The more data we have, the more use it is to people.”

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The footage was previously only available to researchers and documentary makers who paid for the privilege and were prepared to travel to London to access the films.

But now people can watch newsreels from British cinemas dating back to 1896.

A quick internet search reveals a 1967 film about teenager Josie Simpson, of Chatteris, featuring her life as a water diviner nicknamed Twiggy by her friends.

Many people will also be fascinated by a 1932 performance by Wisbech Male Voice Choir, and by farmers picking fruit from a field in Wisbech in 1963.

Mr White said: “The response we have had from the general public is phenomenal. We have found people really enjoy looking at the films.”

• To view the films, visit

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