A Hunter man has reunited families with their long-lost home movies after purchasing a box of old projector film equipment at an auction nearly 30 years ago.

Via Facebook, Dare managed to get in touch with two families connected to the lost film.

Trevor Dare said he purchased the box around 25 years ago at a Cardiff auction purely for the empty spools and a film splicer he’d been seeking.

“I grabbed what I wanted from the auction, put the box in the garage, and forgot about it,” Trevor said.

“25 years later, I was going through the garage and thought I better see what else was in the box and to my surprise, there were 30 to 40 small and large reels within.

“I converted a few to see what was on them, and I couldn’t believe what I was watching… they were family home movies from the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s.”

While Trevor said he only paid around $10 to $15 for the box, the footage he uncovered had been priceless for some Hunter residents.

Trevor said two local families had been recognised in the footage after his wife, Wendy, suggested he upload the footage to the Lost Newcastle Facebook page.

“I got a message from Paul Woolf who said that it was of his family…he came over and couldn’t believe what he was seeing as he had nothing of his history,” Trevor said.

“One of the larger reels was a trip his parents did in the 50s by boat to Europe…his grandparents from England were on one of the films and other relations he’d never seen.

“To say he was over the moon is an understatement.”

Another local woman, Sharon James, also got in touch.  

“Sharon wasn’t on Facebook, but her friend saw the footage and got her to contact me,” Trevor said.

“She’s coming over next week to collect the reels…she said she was only 12 years old in the two videos that I put up on the Lost Newcastle Facebook page.

“She’s in her early 60s now, and she can’t believe it.”

Sharon James said she was amazed at the recovered content when she first watched the footage.

“I was so shocked and excited to see they were of my family and me,” she said.

“My Dad took the films of me from the day I was born … we had a Kombi van and went on many holidays in it.

Sharon James, pictured second from the left, was filmed with her cousins and Grandmother.

“I was born in 1960, so that was many years ago now … the people in it are my Grandmother and my Dad’s sister, her husband and their children.”

She said the film was taken in Newcastle at her family’s home in Kahibah.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am to have found these films,” she said.

“All the older family in the films and my Dad have passed away now.

“These are precious memories for me.”

Trevor said it was just a drop in the ocean of footage he was yet to convert.

Arduous but rewarding pastime

Trevor has been developing film for over 40 years and said he didn’t always have luck when copying footage.

“I’ve always converted VHS video, camcorder tapes, slides, photos and the like for the family,” Trevor said.

“My Uncle had a lot of 8mm film, and I tried to convert them with not much luck, so I was on a mission to work out the best way.

“After many tries, I finally got to where it looks great, and I’m happy with the results.”

The laborious process of developing film includes taking a photo of every frame, which is 20 frames for every second of footage.

Trevor said the frames are then stitched together to make the movie, taking around an hour to recover three minutes of footage.

Despite being a long process, it was nevertheless rewarding for him. 

“It gives me great satisfaction to bring life back to old films for people.”

Trevor said people should convert their old films while they still could before they fade away.

“It’s now 60 years since most reels were filmed…they don’t last forever, and it’s best to digitise them as soon as possible,” he said.

“I’ve had some films that look great at the start, and then they fade to nothing … so don’t leave it for another day.

“Memories are very precious.”

Maia O’Connor

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