Forward

 Richard Catlow (Editor Burnley Express & News 1989) 

In years to come, when people look back on 20th century Burnley, I believe Sam Hanna will stand out as the outstanding figure of the age.

History makes famous those who were ahead of their time and, just as much as a Stanley or a Livingstone, a Marie Curie or a Louis Pasteur, Sam was just that. 

At a time when everyone took Britain's old crafts for granted, Sam saw that they were dying out and took steps to record them for posterity. 

Britain has few more remarkable people than this teacher from Burnley who, in the days before the second world war, would spend his spare hours meeting, befriending and filming folk like charcoal burners, basket makers, wheelwrights and cloggers. Before the first colour film was shown in Burnley's cinemas, Sam had made the changeover from black and white to colour in his filming. 

The result is that for many of these old trades the only way people will ever be able to watch them being carried out is by seeing one of Sam's films. 

In education nowadays the use of visual aids is commonplace. But when this teacher introduced them to Burnley to bring his lessons to life the authorities told him he was wasting his own and his pupils' time! This battle against the 'powers that be' is a recurring theme in Sam's life. 

Yet many readers today will remember Sam's lessons as among the most formative experiences of their lives. It was Sam's determination to bring his lessons to life that led on to his craft films. For instance, his film on the clogger starts with the making of the clog blocks from alder wood, the making of the irons and the processing of the leather, before coming to the clog making itself. 

Sam's investigations took him through the Ribble Valley and into southern Lakeland long before these areas became the haunt of tourists. A constant support to him at all times was his wife, Edith, who died not long ago. 

Since those early years, Sam's films have been shown worldwide and have created a growing following. They're not just part of Burnley's heritage, they belong to the World as well. 

But side-by-side with his craft films, Sam was also filming great occasions in Burnley life, from royal visits to the Home Guard, making us one of the most fortunate towns in the country in this respect. 

 

   

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