A GLIMPSE into Cumbria's past is being shared in a modern day way to give people across the county as taste of culture during lockdown.

The new online museum, featuring a vast collection of atmospheric photographs and cine film, has been launched by Cumbria Film Archive.

It's taken more than 25 years to collate all the material, which comes from private collectors and museums, but in its first few weeks more than 10,000 people in 20 countries across the world had already made a virtual visit.

With museums and attractions across the country forced to close due to the pandemic, the producers hope this new, free facility will provide a fascinating alternative.

Andrew Leitch, a former BBC and ITV producer, and cameraman Jim Bownass have worked with a small team to build a local film archive since the early 2000s.

Over the years the pair have produced twelve DVD histories about Cumbria, focussing on different areas, Cumbria at War and lost railways.

One of their remits is to take the history of Cumbria out to the community, through presentations at venues across the county.

"Mainly because of the virus and everything that was transpiring with that, we thought we'd try and bring Cumbria Film Archive out into the community in a different way and the best way of doing that was with this online museum," said Mr Leitch. " It's fairly unique.

"Most people have never seen these things before and we're using Facebook and all sorts of different sites to try and bring people in.

"They have basically got the whole history of Cumbria at the click of a button.

"Hopefully it will just expand. We will be constantly adding more material to it. It should be, at the end of the day, the greatest collection of atmospheric old photographs from all of these different collections.

"A lot of private collectors have got some fantastic things and it's just great that we're actually able to safeguard this."

Even with mute film, the team behind Cumbria Film Archive are able to research and edit the footage to create documentaries, with voiceovers, sound effects and titles.

Along with hundreds of photographs, many dating back more than a century, there is also a cinema, which features a Film of the Month on one particular area of the county’s past.

It has previously focused on Carlisle’s 1928 Great Pageant - which so successful that the film was even shown in America at the time - and the lost Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith railway line.

“The railway has been closed for half a century but remains in many people’s memories," said Mr Leitch. "Thousands of people from all over the county travelled on that beautiful line and we hope it would be like a journey into the past when they watched the film,” said Mr Leitch.

The Gallery is categorised by place and features short films of each area.

It also includes special features such as Cumbria at war on the home front, which will eventually grow to become a 12-part series about the county during World War Two.

"It is a labour of love," said Mr Leith. "It's a bit philanthropic in a way to make it available to the public. We get any awful lot of nice comments back about it and people just love it. It's our skills that we can use when we have time on our hands. It keeps us busy and I think it's a good, productive and positive thing to do for people."

The producers believe there is so much variety, people will want to revisit and, as it will be constantly evolving as more material is added, there will often be something new to watch.

Cumbria Film Archive presentations will return when restrictions are lifted.

Visit www.cumbriafilmarchive.com.