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 stately house. It’s that the images are black and white, otherwise it could be an episode of Downton Abbey. But it is the White Castle in Loon op Zand, in the late 1930s, with the Ten Horn-Verheijen family. It is one of hundreds of historical films that have been digitized by the Regional Archives using the most 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 of the Regional Archive in Tilburg. “Hunting a bit, taking trips, beautiful houses. 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 are very special film images, which we have specially packed and stored in a cold store. This way they are safe for the future.”

Hundreds of film reels, videotapes and DVDs have been re-digitized in recent years. “Today’s technology has become so incredibly good,” explains Van de Wouw. 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 the moment 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 of people 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. Someone is milking a cow, an old lady is sitting behind a spinning wheel: “Really Brabant nostalgia. In that film you can clearly see the longing for the past. The sentiment of the disappearing farming community, because the textile industry 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 over the 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 roads were not yet well paved.”

You drive past the station under construction, the Schouwburgring with the Palace-Raadhuis. “Recognizable to many older Tilburg residents”, Van de Wouw knows. 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 at the station, spends a day in Tilburg and leaves. In black and white you see all still images. You can see the sadness of Tilburg then, but also with a touch of humor. It’s a 45-minute film that you have to sit down and let it come 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 empty factory sites. Van de Wouw: “For the younger generation, this is precisely the Tilburg they recognize. I also know Tilburg as a city that requires some effort. At first glance it looks ugly, but if you look more closely, you will find 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’

Image from the folkloric fireplace from 1929 in Tilburg (source Polygoon Hollands Nieuws).
Image from the folkloric fireplace from 1929 in Tilburg (source Polygoon Hollands Nieuws).

Image from a city drive through Tilburg in 1964 (source: Sjef Verhoeven).
Image from a city drive through Tilburg in 1964 (source: Sjef Verhoeven).


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