Downton Abbey in Brabant: historical films bring our past to life

You see a film with a genteel family with servants in front of a statelyhouse. It’s that the images are black and white, otherwise it could be anepisode of Downton Abbey. But it is the White Castle in Loon op Zand, in thelate 1930s, with the Ten Horn-Verheijen family. It is one of hundreds ofhistorical films that have been digitized by the Regional Archives using themost modern techniques. The images are now available for everyone to see.

The Ten Horn-Verheijen family lived the good life, says Teuntje van de Wouw ofthe Regional Archive in Tilburg. “Hunting a bit, taking trips, beautifulhouses. We have a film of them on winter sports in Austria.”

“These images could be from now, with après ski in a ski lodge.”

“That could still be recorded today, with après ski in a ski lodge. They arevery special film images, which we have specially packed and stored in a coldstore. This way they are safe for the future.”

Hundreds of film reels, videotapes and DVDs have been re-digitized in recentyears. “Today’s technology has become so incredibly good,” explains Van deWouw. Last year she watched all the films and added all available information.

“In 1929, costumes were already nostalgia.”

You can see folklore on many recordings. Processions in particular were themoment when someone who could afford it grabbed his film camera. Nice to see,but it’s more, says Van de Wouw: “You see how the city has developed.”

“In a film from 1929 you see a folkloric fireplace. You see all kinds ofpeople in traditional costume, walking through the city with cows and horses.That was already nostalgia, because people no longer walked around like that.”

With the old town hall of Tilburg in the background, floats pass by. Someoneis milking a cow, an old lady is sitting behind a spinning wheel: “ReallyBrabant nostalgia. In that film you can clearly see the longing for the past.The sentiment of the disappearing farming community, because the textileindustry is changing the city.”

“Shock absorbers didn’t exist yet, you need a strong stomach.”

In addition to nostalgia, the old films show how much Tilburg has changed overthe past century. The 1964 film shows a ride through the city. Van de Wouw:“Shock absorbers didn’t exist yet, so you need a strong stomach. And the roadswere not yet well paved.”

You drive past the station under construction, the Schouwburgring with thePalace-Raadhuis. “Recognizable to many older Tilburg residents”, Van de Wouwknows. But for anyone under the age of sixty, the situation is unrecognizable.Few cities have changed as much as Tilburg.”

Van de Wouw’s great favorite is the film ‘Stad’ from 1984. “Someone arrives atthe station, spends a day in Tilburg and leaves. In black and white you seeall still images. You can see the sadness of Tilburg then, but also with atouch of humor. It’s a 45-minute film that you have to sit down and let itcome over you.”

“For the younger generation, this is the Tilburg they recognize.”

In this film no procession or other clichés from the Romance life, but emptyfactory sites. Van de Wouw: “For the younger generation, this is precisely theTilburg they recognize. I also know Tilburg as a city that requires someeffort. At first glance it looks ugly, but if you look more closely, you willfind fantastic places.”

The website of the Regional Archives will be online on Tuesday 4 October.

ALSO READ: Unique images of Tilburg from 1948 found: ‘Royal glory revived’