The first instances of cinematography at Mount St Mary’s

Mount St Mary's
Mount St Mary's

Mount St Mary’s College near Sheffield has appointed an archivist to examine and share the large amount of historical material collected by the college in its 175 years.

Samantha Palmer, who started work last November, said “there is a huge amount of historical information locked away in the archives and my role is now to make it accessible to current pupils and their families, to Old Mountaineers and to local people interested in the history of the area.”

As most of the records are uncatalogued Samantha faces a challenge to bring order to the archive and to make highlights available online in digital form, “I hope to recruit volunteers to help me with cataloguing, so we can bring to life some of the fascinating stories which have been hidden for so long.  I am really looking forward to the challenge”, she observed.

Below is the fruit of  Samantha’s first researches – into the history of cinematography at the Mount.


One of the first pieces of cinematographic equipment used at Mount St Mary’s was a horizontal photographic enlarger dating approximately 1915, it can still be used today and may well make an appearance at future OM events! The archive has unearthed hundreds of monotone and coloured slides of school trips to Lourdes and Interlaken. There are also stunning biological slides of a wide variety of animals, some of now which are extinct.Horizontal photographic enlarger


Although there was no TV in existence at the Mount in 1951 it was however noted in the Easter edition of The Mountaineer…

‘The boys were let off fairly lightly in the influenza epidemic but the Matron had been taking no risks. The queues of cinema proportions outside the dispensary have led one to wonder occasionally whether there is not a television set hidden in a corner.’



TV’s were eventually purchased at the Mount and were clearly enjoyed by all, however, rules and regulations were still in place to ensure too much television wasn’t to dilute the boy’s studies…

‘There are television sets at the Mount, one of which is a coloured one, which is hired by the Lower School Boys from their own pocket money. They are not, however, encouraged to sit over too long a period watching them. All the boys are encouraged, as an alternative to television, to read for at least three hours a week. This is supervised by a teacher who records the time spent. Film shows are also given including quite current films and many “cow-boy” and “blood and thunder”. More ‘classic’ films are projected by and for the film society.’

Students in class for supervised reading time


There was an annual vote for the most favoured films by the students at the Mount and the following were voted the most outstanding in 1975, can you remember watching any of these classics at the College?

Battle of Britain

Living Free

Lorna Doone


Mission Impossible

Monte Carlo or Bust


Those Magnificent Men in their flying Machines

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Flight of the Phoenix

Mount St Mary's would love to hear if anybody has any recollection of these memories. Or, if you have any memories or memorabilia of the Mount you wish to submit and record within Mount St Mary’s historic archive, or to offer your services as a volunteer, please contact the resident archivist via All enquiries are welcome.