An original WWI film showing a Chilwell ammunition factory with its workers – mostly women – busy at work was discovered in a leaky garden shed in Long Eaton.
The said WWI film is an original nitrate film which was taken in 1916. However, it is partly damaged with rain water. BBC correspondent Kate Adie and her team were the one to discover it when they were able to track down the family of one of the victims of the 1918 explosion in Chilwell.
According to Peter Kersley’s accounts, their relative, Gertrude, was one of the victims of the 1918 explosions. She left four children behind. Somehow, the WWI film ended up in her family’s possession but due to their fear as nitrate films are inflammable, it was kept in the garden shed in long Eaton where it was discovered.
True enough, nitrate films are really dangerous as they can self-explode. So from BBC Nottingham, a specialist courier took the said WWI film to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. For six months, experts in the museum worked diligently with the WWI film restoring and copying it. The find discovered by BBC in the garden shed in Long Eaton was comprised not only of the WWI film. It came with its negative. Experts in the museum plan to restore the WWI film by combining these two.
The said WWI film showed the men and women working in the Chilwell factory filling up artillery shells with mixed explosives. The film was taken about a year earlier before the great explosion in the factory happened which killed 139, injuring hundreds and so very few identified.
According to one of the museum’s personnel working at the restoration of the WWI film, the film is one of the major finds the Imperial War Museum has seen in many years and is very valuable.