Fry and Drew: Online Resources

Colonial Films Unit at Ibadan University

Following on from last week’s post on Ibadan University, here’s a still of Trenchard Hall taken from the 1958 film “Three Roads to Tomorrow”. It tells the story of three students from different parts of Nigeria making their way to university for the first time. Sponsored by BP, the film was made by Greenpark Productions to illustrate the way that ‘modern transport and oil power have changed the lives of all Nigeria’, says the narrator.

13.1.30 ui

The image shows the administrative block to the left of Trenchard Hall and the single-storey bookshop to the right, all designed by Fry and Drew as part of the first phase of development at the university.

The film is available to watch online at the excellent Colonial Film website, a research project intended to ‘allow both colonizers and colonized to understand better the truths of Empire’. The website brings together information on over 6000 films depicting life in Britain and its former colonies, including a fascinating collection of 150 films to view online – such as “Mr English at Home” (1940) and “Farmer Brown Learns Good Dairying” (1951).

A shining example of progress in colonial Nigeria, Ibadan University was the subject of several films, from the early stages of clearing, surveying and planning to the opening ceremony in 1954. Jane Drew featured in early footage; she wrote home to Maxwell Fry of being filmed on-site with the university’s first principal, Kenneth Mellanby:

‘This morning the colonial film unit took films of Mellanby, Jack Hoskins and I talking – a bit bogus but they want a full record’.

Indeed. Read about the Colonial Film Unit here.

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