Exploring the audio-visual material in our archive
16 December 2015
by Tracey Gooch
As part of our new archive project ‘Rewind — seven decades of stories from Leonard Cheshire Disability’, one of the areas of the archive we'll be taking a closer look at is the audio-visual material.
Le Court film unit
We know there are lots of interesting and unusual films in our archive. One is called No Limit, which has the tagline, ‘Given the tools, there is no limit to what disabled people can do’.
It was created in the 1960s by the Le Court film unit, which was a group of disabled film makers who lived in the first Leonard Cheshire Disability service, Le Court in Hampshire.
It looks at many gadgets created as individual solutions to individual problems.
These gadgets were created by people living at Le Court with volunteer engineers and designers and include an adjustable easel and an electric wheelchair.
The Le Court film unit was a cooperative formed in 1958 with four principal members who you see in the film — Neville Thomas, Laurie Mawer, Brian Line and Barbara Beasley.
It was an independent unit and the money to make the films came from various funds and foundations who supported or commissioned the films created.
The photo here shows Albert Baker at his easel using his mouth to hold and guide his paintbrush, Lawrie Mawer filming him and Neville Thomas in the background on the left.
One of the founding members of the Le Court film unit was Brian Line, whose autobiography we have in our archive.
In it, he talks about his childhood, his disability, the businesses he ran, his love life, and also the No Limit film.
What I found really interesting is he writes, ‘Surprisingly no films had been made about gadgets for the disabled. This seemed to be the one subject people wanted to know about in the ’60s’.
It sounds as if something quite unique was happening, and it would be great to find out if there actually are any other films of this period on similar themes.
What happens next?
What are we going to do with this material now? We want to make this available for more people to access.
As part of the Rewind project, we'll be creating a new heritage website featuring parts of the audio visual archive.
We are also about to embark on a programme to engage with many of the people whom the charity supports.
We want more people to see this material and to find out the responses, interpretations or questions that might come from this.
Tracey Gooch is the heritage project manager at Leonard Cheshire Disability
If you want to get in touch about any of the items in this blog, please email Tracey.