Kilmore parish priest, Father James McHugh, captured many scenes and events in Kilmore from 1937 to 1939. Kilmore Historical Society are digitising the films and will make them available to public later this year.

By Pam Kiriakidis

Kilmore Historical Society is in the works of editing archive footage, presenting Kilmore’s oldest events captured on film.

The films are films that were recorded by Kilmore’s Catholic parish priest Father James McHugh who was a keen photographer who captured many churches and events from 1937 to 1939.

Some of the events in the films are Kilmore’s most treasured memories, including the visit of the State Governor Lord Huntington, a procession through Kilmore’s main street and horse races at the racecourse when the grandstand was on the east side.

The original films went missing after Father McHugh left Kilmore and were discovered when Monsignor Morrison resigned from his parishioner duties, cleaning out the cupboards during the 1980s.

Kilmore Historical Society member Pat Hoban stitched them together and hosted screenings of the films, however it was found the films would deteriorate if shown too often with strong projection light.

The films were then taken to a Melbourne laboratory to be digitised.

After many years, Kilmore Historical Society president Brian Clancy said he decided to revitalise the films – writing a script, adding subtitles and music to give back to the community.

“It’s just making those films more complete, because if we don’t do anything now, it’s going to get harder and harder, and that’s what I’m discovering now,” he said.

“There’s one or two people that were only five or six years old in the films that are alive today.”

Adding music and subtitles also means identifying the local people featured in the original films.

The society has put forward an appeal for help identify the ‘film star’ identities.

Mr Clancy said the response so far has been significant, allowing the process of the new upgraded film to proceed ‘full steam ahead’ with its next stage.

“We’re trying to get as much detail as we can to get a script, and we’re going quite well with that,” he said.

“We will keep the original old films, but we will have a new edited version, which will have a soundtrack, some musical background, subtitles, and we’ll make that freely available.”

Through funding, the society managed to identify most of the names of the men in Kilmore’s militia, hopping on a train to a camp in Puckapunyal before World War Two broke out in 1939.

Mr Clancy said the society has dug deep to identify residents in the original films, searching through Assumption Colleges magazines, historical society records and Kilmore’s Free Press, but were still searching for names.

The new updated film is expected to be completed in about October. Further details regarding screenings and accessibility to the film will be published in the Review.

To watch a trailer of the McHugh films, people can visit the North Central Review Facebook page.

People interested in providing monetary support to the project can contact Kilmore Historical Society via its Facebook page or website.

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