This new tool in education - the film camera and films

I produced a thesis - "This New Tool in Education - The Film Camera and Films". It was well received and I was invited to give a lecture on my new ideas at the Reynolds Hall of Technology in Manchester. I illustrated my talk with demonstrations of loop films, 35mm film strips using my own rear projection screen and the 'Hanna' slide projector, and finally a showing of a selection on 'Old English Craft Films'.

Alderman Wright Robinson, Chairman of the Manchester Education Committee, enthused over my ideas. He had the foresight where others remained blinkered. Whilst some considered that to introduce films into the classroom would be entertaining children and not educating them, Alderman Wright Robinson recognised that here was a media that could revolutionise visual-aids in Education and that he had met a teacher who could pioneer this new and exciting concept.

He told me that he too was a 'Burnley man' and not only that, but he was a Clogger. He gave me another surprise when he introduced e to his other guest - George Tomlinson MP Minister of Education and an old friend of my own father.

Later we all had tea at the Alderman's home.

The Institute of Handicraft Teachers' Journal printed a report on my lecture tours which resulted in an avalanche of requests to speak at other meetings throughout the country. It was following a showing of my films at the Whitworth Art Gallery that a report in the Manchester Guardian brought me the invitation from the Royal Photographic Society to lecture to the Society in London. I was asked to tell them why I thought films had a place in Education.

The Society officials were impressed and it was then that I was made an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. My talk on the BBC Overseas Service was my first of several other broadcasts I made on local radio. More invitations came for me to speak to other groups.

Each lecture I gave, and I found that I was in great demand to speak all over the country, only served to increase my determination to produce films for use in schools. On one occasion I was invited to lecture at Birmingham University by an HMI Whilst I had this feeling of honour and pride to have received this invitation, the Director of Education in my home town of Burnley resented the attention that I was being given by the Ministry of Education; only reluctantly did he grant me leave of absence to go to Birmingham.

At the University I met some of the country's leading educationalists. Here I was, just an ordinary schoolteacher from a humble background, but with a self-appointed mission to pioneer filming for education. My associates for the weekend were Sir William Brass MP Institute and Oliver Bell MA, Chairman of the British Film Director of the British Film Institute. Following this meeting my pioneering film work became more widely known. The National Union of Teachers awarded me two scholarships, one for £100 and another for £150, giving me immediate national recognition for my work.

I spent many evenings and weekends travelling to meetings to speak to lecturers in Education, teachers and their employers. The British Film Institute invited me to a Conference of the Scientific Film Association. On all these occasions I was given the opportunity to show the films which I had produced and to talk about how films could be used in education. Even professional film producers marvelled at the quality of my work as I was a 'one-man-film-crew' and self taught in the craft of film making.

As more requests came for me to lecture away from my own county, the local education Authority, instead of giving me the encouragement that I had hoped for, dug its heels in and refused to allow me leave of absence to give lectures. Only after fiery arguments at an Education Committee meeting at the Burnley Town Hall - was permission given to me to go to a Friday evening meeting in Cardiff.

Opposition from the Burnley Director of Education and certain members of the Education Committee culminated in a threat - I was told, that if I did not stop lecturing, ways and means would be found to get rid of me. I continued to lecture, I was determined to beat my opponents.

In the press it was reported - "Although Burnley possesses one of the foremost educational film makers in the country in Sam Hanna, it has yet to get excited about it and it looks as if some other Authority may soon take credit for opening the way to his talents."

The British Film Institute recognised me as a leading pioneer in producing films for use in schools. In Wales I was entertained by the Director of Education in Cardiff. I lectured at the National Museum of Wales, talked to the children of Cardiff, addressed the teachers in Newport where I was given a civic welcome. My supporters on the Burnley Borough Council were soon to know that their confidence in e as an ambassador for Burnley had been justified and they too could share in my pride. My opponents on the Borough Council were more concerned that I was back in school, they refused to accept that one of their teachers had won the support of many national institutions, whilst they still held the view that to show films in the classroom was 'entertainment' and not 'education'.

My lecturing had its lighter moments. I was on my way to Liverpool University to speak to my colleagues of the Institute of Handicraft Teachers and had to pass through Aintree. It so happened that it was the day of the Grand National and I was held up in the traffic near the race course. A police inspector came to my rescue. I explained my predicament and he instructed a police motorcyclist to ride in front of my car and take me to the University. He did. He dismounted from his motor bike, saluted and said - "Here you are sir, the University of Liverpool, and you are on time. " He remounted his machine and returned to Aintree.

It was an Institute of Handicraft Teachers Secretary - Bill Crispin, who looked after me whilst I was in Liverpool. We later became lifelong friends. At Liverpool I was surprised to recognise one of my old colleagues in the audience, it was Leslie Laid who had one period had been my assistant in Burnley and now he was one of His Majesty's Inspectors.

Here I had another influential supporter. But, by far the most respected protagonist and friend I had was Sir Harold Parkinson. He gave me encouragement when my opponents tried to stifle my endeavours. When my Director of Education tried to discourage me from giving lectures around the country, Sir Harold arranged for me to meet the people who would appreciate the pioneering work I was doing. He told me to use the great gifts that nature had given to me. Like my father he told me not to afraid of any man if I was seeking the truth. His support certainly put a brake on my Director of Education's threats to get rid of me.

I suppose, politically, Sir Harold and I were poles apart. But he cared for people. I remember my father had no fire in his home, he had used his ration of coal. Sir Harold got to know about this and he phoned me and requested that I should go to his flat in Burnley. I remember when I arrived he met me at the door in full dress suit. He had a shovel and a sack in his hand. "Here Sam," he said, "I cannot let an old friend sit in his home with no fire, put this sack of coal in your car boot and take it to your father I'm much younger and sitting in the cold for me will do me no harm."

His friendship I appreciated. Edith and I visited him and Lady Parkinson at Hornby Castle. My son John did part of his studies at Hornby Castle whilst on vacation from Liverpool University where he was studying to be an architect. When my mother died, Sir Harold sent me words of comfort which, with other condolences, gave me comfort and strength at a time of great sadness.

When Sir Harold Parkinson was High Sheriff of Lancashire he called me to meet the Judges.