Archive films not seen before will be part of a free online festival to be staged in June by Dorset rural media charity Windrose.

Four shows will be available from June 24-30, thanks to support from Dorset Council.

Windrose director Trevor Bailey said: "One of our greatest joys is to take film shows to live audiences in village halls, theatres, cinemas, arts centres and museums. It is amazing how many people are drawn by these moving images of their county. The atmosphere is often electric.

"Because of the pandemic, outreach shows have been impossible for a year. That’s been very sad. So we thought that, as restrictions begin to lift, we would remind Dorset people of just what a wonderful resource these films of truly local life really are.

"When you have a film archive like ours, you are really custodian of the nearest thing to living history that exists. The last thing you want is to let it gather dust. It needs to be seen by local communities. It is their story. ‘

James Harrison, who has been putting the online shows together for Windrose, said the film festival was some completely different from Windrose’s usual shows.

"Just for one week, anyone who is on the internet can sit at home and enjoy a whole range of wonderful films. Just go to our website - and all the information will be there.’

"We wanted to give Dorset communities a special present to help clear the gloom a bit. We’ve enjoyed ourselves hugely putting these online shows together. We’ve tried to relate them to specific areas of the county to make the most of local relevance but they will all be fascinating for anyone who is interested in Dorset.

"People will find some old favourites from our shows but all the work we’ve been doing recently to digitise the archive means that we have been able to give an outing to a number of films that have not been seen before."

Windrose is famous for its extraordinary film archive of local life. Over the last 36 years, with the vital help of local communities, Windrose has saved a very large number of films dating from the 1910s onwards and enabled them to be seen again.

Over the last three-and-a-half years the charity, which also works in Somerset and Wiltshire collecting archive film and running community projects, has been working steadily to digitise much of the archive and to prepare more of it for public viewing.

Said Trevor Bailey: ‘We have selected films from certain areas of the county to make them as relevant as possible to local communities but anyone who loves Dorset will find delight in all of them.

"There is a mixture of old favourites from our shows and new sequences specially prepared for the festival. Some full Windrose productions have been included, which combine old films with the memories and knowledge of local people and are also available to buy on DVD.’

To see the film shows, visit where you will be guided to a special Archive Film Festival page so you can choose the films you would like to see.

The films are:

  • The coast – Weymouth to Swanage
  • Filming birds at Winfrith in 1960s, travels through Dorset in 1940s, Sein fishing at Chesil Beach, the last train to Portland 1960s, paddle steamer at Lulworth 1960s, Purbeck farming 1950s, Weymouth promotional film 1950s. Plus Swanage seaside holidays in 1930s (which is also available on DVD).
  • Blandford to Sturminster Newton
  • Blandford’s Coronation celebrations 1937, Blandford and Shaftesbury in 1930s, Sturminster Newton Market in 1930s and 1990s, the Somerset & Dorset Railway in 1960s, Fontmell Magna in 1980s. Plus Iwerne Minster in 1918. (A sparkling, newly-discovered original print of an old favourite in wonderful condition – a revelation).
  • Wimborne
  • The moving of the model town 1960s, an unusual rail accident at Wimborne Station 1930s, Wimborne Urban District Council 1950s. Plus Soldiers, Civilians and Stockmen (also available on DVD), a mass of films about Wimborne town and Wimborne market during the Second World War with a comparison visit to the market in the early 2000s. Presented by the late John Loder.
  • Buckland Newton to Sherborne
  • Buckland Newton people make one of the first Parish Maps 1990s, the King’s visit to Sherborne 1940s, Sherborne streets and fete 1950s, Sherborne School 1930s, an historical pageant at the Larmer Tree gardens 1960s, well known Sherborne farmer Jack Dimond and his old binder 1950s and 1990s, Cerne Abbas 1960s and 1990s. Plus Mother Of All Pageants (also available on DVD), the story of the great Sherborne Pageant with the original 1905 film and music. Presented by the late Gerald Pitman.