MEMORIES has joined forces with the North-East Film Archive to unearth a hidden gen – a cine-secret – every month showing historic County Durham on film.

In the CineSecrets you’ll see the sights and sounds, the faces, changing landscapes and industries of County Durham. You’ll experience special events just as they happened and watch everyday lives and the region’s rich past unfold on screen.

Our first CineSecret last month was an excerpt from a 40-minute documentary that Mike Neville narrated in 1962 for Tyne Tees Television. It was called Your Heritage: The River Tees, and in it, he took a very leisurely journey down the river looking at the history and the industry of the settlements on its banks – we were especially excited by the footage filmed at Darlington’s Patons & Baldwins factory.

This month’s clip is an absolute must for anyone interested in Weardale. It is an amateur travelogue, called Downstream in Durham, made in the late 1950s which takes us on a meditative trip along the River Wear. The filmmaker was on a quest to promote the picturesque and resourceful rural North-East and, as he stopped by in Stanhope, he captured some brilliant footage of the town and he filmed Amy Emms MBE, who crafted Durham quilts of real beauty.

The Northern Echo:

TOP TOG: Amy Emms received an MBE in 1984 for her services to Durham quilting

Durham was once renowned for its intricately-patterned quilts. In decades gone by, groups of eight or ten women would gather in a house for a chinwag and stitch – such gatherings were called “quilting bees”. However, after the Second World War interest in quilting died away, although Mrs Emms kept it alive and towards the end of her life, her skills became highly prized and she became a sought-after teacher.

Mrs Emms, of Huntshieldford near St John’s Chapel, was awarded an MBE for services to quilting and embroidery in 1984, and she died in 1994, aged 90.

In our CineSecrets clip, you can see the quality of Mrs Emms’ work as she proves it is incredibly difficult to display a quilt to a cameraman in a force ten gale.

The footage can be seen in our CineSecrets clip on the Memories website. Go to, or find the link on the Memories’ Facebook page (search North-East history).

And if you spot anyone you know, or if you have any information about any of the scenes featured, we’d love to hear from you.

CineSecrets is just a fragment of a vast catalogue of film collected and preserved by the North East Film Archive. It is part of the archive’s major new project, North-East on Film, which will re-connect the people and communities of the region with their film heritage and provide important glimpses into our history through special screenings, events and online collections.

This project has been made possible by support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

To find out more about #NorthEastonFilm visit:

If you’d like to see the complete film, Downstream Through Durham, you can watch it online here:

Any nuggets of information, or tales about the people or the locations featured all help to tell the amazing stories of our past – so pop them in the comments section below.