With the closure of the Kay Film Laboratories in the 1980s the negatives held there were offered back to the relevant film companies. Those that were unclaimed or unwanted were then destroyed – which unfortunately included those of Mancunian Films. Obviously, from this point on no new prints could be struck and consequently the only films currently available derive from surviving positive prints. The films held by ‘Blakeley’s Films’ today (from which many of the DVD releases originate) are unfortunately mostly ex-projection prints.
The London produced ‘Butcher-Mancunian’ films have faired better and most survive in good quality versions. The British Film Institute at the National Film & Televison Archive (NFTA) in London preserves some of the films and many of the extracted ‘short’ films are held at The North West Film Archive (NWFA) at the Manchester Metropolitan University.
During the 1950s and 1960s, several of the Mancunian films were released onto the burgeoning 16mm collectors’ market. Through the diligence of John E. Blakeley’s grandson, Michael Blakeley, some films that were once classed as missing have been tracked down to private collectors. Some of the films were also released theatrically abroad and consequently it is also possible copies may one day be found in overseas archives or collections.
The search undertaken by Philip Martin Williams and David L. Williams (authors of Hooray for Jollywood) at HOYD PUBLISHING did reveal a copy of the Norman Evans comedy ‘Under New Management’ being held by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in California. The film was deteriorating fast with the last reel already lost. However, as a result of their find the remaining film was repatriated to Britain and the National Film and Television Archive.
See Norman Evans in his 'Dentist Sketch' extracted from this film on the Videos page