'˜Dr Who' video editor remasters rare colour film of 1930s Edinburgh

A video pioneer has uncovered a window into Edinburgh's past after he remastered an extremely rare colour film of the Capital from the 1930s.

Rare colour archive of Edinburgh in 1930s has been remastered.
Rare colour archive of Edinburgh in 1930s has been remastered.

The stunning footage from more than 80 years ago is claimed to be some of the earliest known original colour film of Scotland.

Video editor Stuart Humphreys, known for digital colour work on Dr Who, shared the unique glimpse of 1930s history in colour after restoring sound to silent footage of a Scottish holiday in the summer of 1936.

The film expert says he tapped into “a huge apettite for nostalgia” after he took rare footage from a piece of amateur film, lovingly restored it and shared it on Twitter. The film opens with traffic on Princes Street and features stunning aerial shots of the Capital before cutting to scenes of divers at North Berwick’s outdoor pool, now used as a car park. It also shows scenes from around Scotland, including a policeman directing traffic from a platform, crowds at Highland Games at Dunoon and a marching pipe band.

The remastered footage, which originally came to light in the BBC’s old 2008 series ‘The Thirties In Colour’ had generated over 10,000 views in just one day and Twitter users left hundreds of comments, many stating how “amazing” and “precious” it is.

The original Scottish film was by Rosie Newman, a renowned amateur filmmaker. Miss Newman, the British daughter of a wealth banker, used her contacts to buy colour film during when it was hard to come by.

Mr Humphreys, who lives in London, says that makes the footage exceptionally rare. He said, “It’s a time capsule. At that time colour film was so rare. Not many studios were even making films back then and couldn’t afford to pay amateur filmmakers.”

“What’s interesting and telling is that you don’t see poverty or any of the harsh reality of post-War Scotland in the footage. Filmmakers often skirted around that. Instead what you get with this footage is a unique, picture postcard of life in Scotland in the 1930s.”

Lauded by industry chiefs as a “colourisation and composition legend” Stuart first worked with BBC in 2005 and went onto re-colourise film for the Doctor Who DVD releases.

He first came to the attention of the BBC after his early experiments in video colourisation of black and white photos of the time travelling Doctor.

The 48-year-old has a passion for history and for pioneers who made history, like Edinburgh scientist James Clerk Maxwell who discovered the world’s first colour photograph, now on display at a museum on India Street.

My Humphrey’s said his latest work bringing colour footage from across the UK to life had become a “hugely satisfying hobby.” One of his recent remastered videos of London in the 1920s went viral, attracting over 4 million hits. He added, “People love to see places looking very different to how people know them today. This footage is different to most videos you see online. People get into the stories behind it. It has really captured people’s imagination.”

Stuart plans to release more colour footage of Scotland from an expanding collection. He added,

“The past offers a kind of cosy safety and stability. These remasters are so special. When I colourise black and white work, it’s a best guess, an interpretation. But with colour footage it’s real - a window into the past.”