The East London junk shop and its Grand Prix film canisters

Written by Kurt | Sunday, 07 April 2013 14:19


Last night I happened to pass a junk shop last night in East London in a rather intoxicated condition, which is, of course, nothing particularly exciting. Though, looking through the crazy paraphernalia generally displayed in the shop window, I couldn't help noticing several stacks of 16mm film canisters. It has to be noted that such things always attract my attention, since I happen to be one of those people who tend to collect just about anything that could possibly have some creative value. Ogling these canisters I noticed that they happened to have such tags as 'Grand Prix Belgium 1982' 'Ferrari F1 reel' 'Grand Prix 1971' 'House of Stewart' and 'Manx TT'. You can probably imagine my surprise, excitement and disbelief at the same time. Had the pints I had earlier had such a devastating effect on my mind that I was now imagining film canisters apparently containing the holy grail of any serious motorsport collector; original film footage from the most exciting eras of motorsport, or could it actually, possibly, be reality?

So, obviously I was up at the crack of dawn to return to the shop and investigate.. Now comes the anti-climax: all the canisters were empty! When I asked the Cockney (i.e. East Londoner) what happened to the films inside he replied dryly: "They threw it all away".. Of course, at first I was perplexed and asked myself, why on earth would you do that? Giving it a second thought, I thought, not quite, knowing full well that many of the orginal East Londoners are generally fluent in speaking 'cack,' otherwise known as 'rubbish,' it occured to me that that just could not be possible. Taking another look at the labels for a few more clues, I noticed the words 'Brunswick films,' which rang a bell. Indeed, after a Google I found out it is one of the most comprehensive motorsport film archives around, based in London, providing footage for documentaries and even the upcoming film 'Rush' dramatising Niki Lauda's 1976 Grand Prix accident. Having digitalised vast amounts of their archive they probably had no use for the analog film and its canisters and disposed of it. With the canisters ending up in an East End junk shop. So, sadly no footage of 1970s Grand Prix racing, but being the businessman the junk shop owner was, he felt it necessary to offer me some 1970s 16mm 'gymnastics' films instead. "Well", I replied prudently: "I will stick to car footage, if you don't mind.." Ah well, still a lovely Sunday though!