Shropshire Star

Watch: Amazing lost film of Amy Johnson flying in Shropshire

A remarkable and rare lost film of "aviatrix" Amy Johnson in Shropshire has come to light after more than 75 years, dug out of a cupboard in Bishop's Castle and clearly showing her piloting a glider on the Long Mynd.


Johnson was a pioneer at a time when it was almost unheard of for a woman to fly an aeroplane, setting records and taking part as a pilot in the Second World War – but she also found time to go gliding on the south Shropshire hill.

The newly discovered footage was found after a Bishop's Castle couple handed in some unknown reels of film that had come into their possession, following a call by Flicks in the Sticks for historical home videos, and is thought to have been recorded by a member of the Roberts family in the town.

Amy Johnson
  • Amy Johnson CBE was born on July 1, 1903

  • She died on January 5, 1941, aged 37

  • Johnson was a pioneering English aviatrix and was the first female pilot to fly alone from Britain to Australia

  • Flying solo or with her husband, Jim Mollison, she set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s

  • She flew in the Second World War as a part of the Air Transport Auxiliary and died during a ferry flight

The film is now to receive its first public screening at the Church Stretton Community Games on July 9.

Flicks in the Sticks is a charity organisation that takes big screen films to rural communities by turning village halls into cinemas, but it is currently running the Bigger Picture Archive Project, collecting old home-made movies of local events across Shropshire, Herefordshire and Mid Wales to ensure such such films are preserved.

Elizabeth-Anne Williams, of Flicks in the Sticks' parent organisation Arts Alive, said: "We've been working in Bishop's Castle collecting films over the last few months and there were a few people who had quite a lot of films stored away.

"This one came from a couple who collected some old films. I'm not sure how they got hold of this, but it is thought to have been filmed by the father of the current generation of the Roberts family.

"A lot of the time these old films are in formats that people can't look at any more so they just get stuck in a cupboard.

"We've been trying to date it. We've been in touch with the Midlands Gliding Club, who have a picture of Amy Johnson in their club house on the Long Mynd dated 1938, but I'm not sure if that picture is of her on the Long Mynd."

The film shows Amy Johnson flying on the high reaches of the hill and includes good close up shots of her after she has landed and includes shots of the founder of Midlands Gliding Club, Espen Hardwick.

It's known that Johnson made frequent visits to RAF Cosford and photos also exist in Shropshire Archives of her gliding on Long Mynd in 1936, but until now it was not known there was film footage of here there.

Amy Johnson's glider

Not much footage exists of Johnson in general. Mystery still surrounds the exact circumstances of her death in 1941 as she was known to have bailed out alive as her off-course aircraft crashed into the Thames estuary, but her body was never recovered.

Conditions were poor with a strong tide and snow falling, but there have been claims of a cover-up after she was killed by friendly fire or chopped to pieces by a Navy ship's propeller.

The video has come to light just as a two-month festival is set to celebrate her life.

Rick Welton, director of the Amy Johnson Festival taking place in Hull from July 1 to September 6, said: "This is exceptional, it is the first film footage I have seen of her in a glider, it's magnificent to see her in action like this.

"We are delighted that such a discovery has been made at this time, coinciding with the celebrations on the 75th anniversary of her death.'

Ian Kerry, director of Flicks in the Sticks, added: "A find like this just demonstrates how important it is that we adopt creative ways of unearthing this material and ensuring its survival.

"It's a very exciting find. The Memories on Film events we have held so far, with the films we have collected, have proved what precious treasures these old films are for a collective memory."

The Bigger Picture Archive Project is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the British Film Institute Audience Network Hubs.

The project is getting the films digitised and loaded on to an online map, as well as holding film screenings.

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