In 1970, in his last year as a DPhil candidate at Mansfield, Peter Armstrong created a film to commemorate the retirement of our then-Principal, John Marsh. The Development team recently came across this wonderful insight into the life of the College as it was, and into the lives of those inhabiting it, at a formative time in Mansfield's history.
Peter had the following to say about the rediscovery of this rare gem:
"Looking back 45 years, this little documentary looks decidedly quaint for a couple of reasons.
Now that anyone can create great videos with full sound and colour with the swish of an iPhone, it's hard to remember that, back then, choices were very limited for a poor student. Shooting 'sync sound' meant moving up from 8mm to 16mm and that meant only black and white film was affordable - and that in short off-cuts bought cheap. My camera was noisy and had to be encased in an ungainly foam and fibreglass contraption that still didn't help much. And synchronising the resulting sound and picture involved a lashup with a double-headed oscilloscope from another college. All this meant that editing (on another Heath Robinson-esque system) was not a matter of choosing the best bits, but choosing the only bits that were in sync and not too noisy. But it was all great fun - and more fun than my neglected D.Phil thesis.
The second big change since then is that my film reflects the final years of Mansfield as a Permanent Private Hall, with a clear focus on theology and training for the free church ministry. As John Marsh hands over to George Caird they are both clear that, although John's mission had been to open up the college, this church-related work would continue to flourish. They would no doubt be surprised to see how far the college has moved in a different direction since then.
I was very fond of John Marsh and grateful to have been able to capture something of the flavour of his principalship during his last year, as well as that of his predecessor and successor. The film was also very lucky for me. When I heard that the current Head of Religious Broadcasting at the BBC, Penry Jones, was visiting Mansfield, I put up huge sheet over the main door and more or less forced him and his hosts to sit on the lawn and watch it after dinner. That in turn led to a job at the BBC and the chance to make rather better films over the following decades - some back at Mansfield with George Caird and all with considerably better equipment!"
Peter went on to himself become Head of Religious Broadcasting at the BBC. The film can be found here. Please be aware it may take some time to load on a slower connection.
You can also download the film by going to the 'File' menu on that page (you may receive a warning notice that Google has been unable to scan the file for viruses, due to its size (around 450MB) - you'll have to take our word that it's safe!).