One can only imagine the noxious mix of coal and chemical fumes, as the 19th century technicians developed their rolls of film on board an afternoon train from London to Bradford.
It is slightly surprising that anyone emerged alive, yet their work brought to Yorkshire one of the first true spectacles of cinema – footage of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee parade, just a few hours after it had taken place. It was projected on to a glorified bedsheet, laced between lampposts in the city centre.
It is but a footnote in the history of film, yet it is in such detail that the past comes alive, and we can be grateful to the National Science and Media Museum, which is also in Bradford, for digging it up as part of its next exhibition.
This was an institution that was itself in danger of becoming part of history just a few years ago, a victim of rationalisation within the museum sector. Its survival, to tell more stories such as this, has cemented in place an important piece in Yorkshire’s cultural jigsaw.