Students Staff

09 July 2015

Lost footage offers rare glimpse of the past at Essex

Rare footage of the University of Essex, not seen since the 1960s, has revealed what student life was like in the University’s founding years, and given current translation students a unique opportunity to develop their skills.

  • Watch Aqui Londres, and more, on our Vimeo channel. Crown Copyright / BFI National Archive.

The film, made in Spanish by the Central Office of Information, was discovered by chance at Essex’s Colchester Campus.

Now transcribed, translated, and subtitled by current postgraduates from the Department of Language and Linguistics, the 16mm film includes a rare interview with Essex’s first Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Albert Sloman, as well as interviews with students and staff of Latin American studies. It even offers a glimpse of how student parties were prepared in the swinging sixties!

Researchers from the British Film Institute have confirmed that the film, thought to have been made in 1968, to promote studying in the UK, formed an episode of Aquí Londres, a cinemagazine series distributed in Latin America.

Lexa Olivera-Smith, a lecturer in Spanish at Essex, charged students from the University’s MA Translation, Interpreting and Subtitling, with subtitling Aquí Londres. She said: “This has given our students a really exciting opportunity to apply the skills they have learnt during their degree to a real-world translation project. They have also enjoyed seeing how the Campus they now call home has changed over the years, whilst also seeing how our commitment and links to Latin America, which remain strong today, were part of our founding ethos.”

Victoria Herrera Mercader, one of seven students who worked on the project, explained why she wanted to take part: “It has been a good opportunity for us to use our skills to remove the language barrier and allow the whole family of Essex to enjoy this film.”

Victoria worked with fellow students Valeria Armstrong, Eunice Civico, Herminia Perez-Ainsua Gonzalez, Ivonne Muniz Miguel, Simona Razanskaite, and Paola Rivas del Real.

  • The students were so inspired by the project they, made their own film, explaining why they wanted to take part.

The 15-minute-long film includes shots of the local area and Colchester town centre as well as the University’s Colchester Campus which, at the time, was still under construction. The Vice-Chancellor explains the concept of the common first year, which allowed students to study a range of subjects across academic departments, and students are filmed in Essex’s cyberbox language labs which the presenter explains use an “advanced technique” to help “students become fluent in a language.”

Anne Lloyd-Hirst, who graduated in 1970 with BA Literature, is interviewed in the film. She said: “Looking back, I realise how much I still owe to that inspired common first year, with its extraordinary spread from statistics to philosophy, from learning a second language to a thorough grounding in twentieth-century history, and more: all enjoyable. It was a friendly community, eager to grow. It was a true education from which (into my fourth career) I am still benefitting.”

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