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North West Film Archive

The North West Film Archive rescues and ensures the survival of moving images about the North West of England for the education and enjoyment of the region's people - both today and in the future.

Founded at Manchester Polytechnic in 1977 as a project to research the region's film and cinema industries, the NWFA is now one of the UK's largest public regional moving image archives, holding over 31,000 reels of film and videotape from early 'animated pictures' to BBC regional television collections and contemporary video productions.

Currently viewing:
Still of Gracie Field's homecoming, Rochdale, 1941

Thanks to the support of Manchester Metropolitan University, and over 1,000 depositors, the NWFA has established a collection which is both regionally specific and internationally significant.

The moving image collection includes cinema newsreels, documentaries, educational films, travelogues, advertising and promotional material, corporate videos and regional television programmes - alongside hundreds of films shot by local families and enthusiasts. The North West is vividly captured in both professional and amateur footage - a powerful record of modern urban society in moving pictures. Complementary collections of photographs, ephemera and oral histories relating to the film and cinema industry are also held.

Moving images - captured on all film gauges and videotape formats - are extremely fragile and unstable. Regional films are often the most at risk as frequently only one copy was made or has survived. The NWFA technical team has all the specialist knowledge and equipment for handing this material, and everything is stored in a purpose-designed suite of vaults. In addition to regional professional recognition, the NWFA is a member of the UK Film Archives Forum, is approved by The National Archives as a designated respository, and has been awarded membership of the International Federation of Film Archives.

Local residents and groups can take advantage of the NWFA's free research, viewing and loan services, and subsidised fees apply to heritage and arts partners within the region. The educational potential of the collection is widely recognised, ranging from primary schools to universities and lifelong learning opportunities. Television and media producers may also access the collection commercially at competitive rates. The North West Film Archive is supported by the A catalogue of over 4,000 titles is available from the NWFA's website.

Contact the North West Film Archive

Opening hours

Visit us in Archives+ - the Viewing Pods and exhibition are open Monday-Thursday, 09:00-20:00, Friday-Saturday, 09:00-17:00

North West Film Archive
Manchester Central Library
St Peter's Square
M60 2LA

Phone +44(0)161 247 3097 (Monday - Friday 09:00-17:00)

Keeping up to date

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Current Exhibition

Exhibition poster

A Feast for the Eyes - A journey around Special Collections

There's also an archive of previous exhibitions and information about future exhibitions.

Full screen image viewer

All the images on the collections pages can also be viewed at your full screen size.

We'd recommend a screen resolution of at least 800x600.

Where are we?

Maps of our locations and contact details for Staff in the Special Collections.