As part of its current Britain on Film season, the BFI has produced an interactive ‘film map’ that allows you to search for archive videos made in your local area. Tap in your postcode and the site brings up any films it has related to said location.
The collection ranges from 1895 to the present day and includes adverts, newsreels, government-made films, TV shows and movies, as well as the world’s earliest home movies dating back to 1902.
London is particularly well represented, though it has to be said that the search can yield fairly broad results at present — better to think in terms of larger areas like the East End or the City rather than your local launderette. The project is in its early stages but has grand ambitions to grow the current catalogue of 2,500 digitized archive films to 10,000 by 2017.
Ultimately the aim is so create a huge interactive library that will offer instant insights into the past and easy access to a rich variety of material once locked away in warehouses and dusty attics. The BFI is keen for the public to get involved too, so the collection can expand further.
The map works for London, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Dublin.