Portsmouth Film Society is taking part in the BBC series of events celebrating local history through archive film, in partnership with the Wessex Film and Sound Archive.

Join PFS at the Omega Centre on Wednesday 16 November at 6pm for a look back at Portsmouth and Southsea’s history on the big screen. The hour-long programme includes George VI’s coronation visit as recorded by Portsmouth Cine Club, a rare documentary The Way to the Sea (1936) introduced by Portsmouth historian Dr. Dave Allen, and a talk from local artist Jez Stevens whose project “No Diving” uses archival footage from local amateur filmmakers taken at the Hilsea Lido.

The Way to the Sea, made by Strand Films in 1936, was produced by one of the key figures of the pre-war documentary film movement, Paul Rotha (1907-1984). It combines an impressionistic history of the South Coast and Portsmouth’s maritime heritage with reportage on the electrification of the London-Portsmouth railway line, culminating in state-of-the-nation reflections upon impending European conflict.

This fifteen-minute documentary features some fine photo-montage of the city and seaside, poetic commentary by W. H. Auden, and a musical score by Benjamin Britten.

Portsmouth Film Society’s Dr. Justin Smith is a film historian in the University’s School of Creative Arts, Film and Media. The Way to the Sea is a wonderfully evocative period-piece, he says.

It captures the mood of the mid-1930s, celebrating industrial progress and the growth of popular leisure, and it puts historic Portsmouth centre stage, anticipating the city’s vital role in World War II.

Entry is £2 or free for full PFS members.