Ministry of Information & Broadcasting

Rare Footage of 1945 Simla Conference now in NFAI collection

Posted On: 14 AUG 2019 4:56PM by PIB Mumbai

As India is celebrating its 73rd Independence Day tomorrow, a rare footage of historic Simla Conference held in 1945, has been received by National Film Archive of India (NFAI). Shot as a home video in 8 mm format by Royal India Naval Officer William Gledhill Taylor, the footage of about 12 minutes, captures the historical moments of the Simla Conference that was attended by many prominent national leaders of the time. The footage was sent by UK based Ms Margaret South (nee Taylor), daughter of William Taylor to NFAI for preservation. 

“It is an amazing collection of shots taken during a crucial period prior to India’s independence. Many important political personalities of the time are seen and captured on the camera, some in close-ups”, said Prakash Magdum, Director NFAI. “I sincerely thank Ms Margaret South for this noble gesture of sending the footage to NFAI and it will be an important addition to our collection”, he added.

Several important leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, C Rajagopalachari, MA Jinnah, Rajendra Prasad, Bhulabhai Desai, Master Tara Singh, GB Pant etc. are seen in the footage. Mahatma Gandhi, who met Lord Wavell prior to the Conference, is seen walking back after the meeting at the Viceregal Lodge. The leaders are seen chatting among themselves on the lawns of the Viceregal Lodge. The Viceroy Lord Wavell along with his wife are also seen greeting the leaders and exchanging pleasantries on the occasion. The historic Simla Conference was held during 25th June to 14th July 1945 at Viceregal Lodge, Simla. 

William Taylor served with the British India Steam Navigation Company from the age of 17 in 1939 and joined Royal Indian Navy later in the War. He achieved the level of Lieutenant and then sent on leave to Simla prior to his demobilization and subsequent return to UK. 

According to his daughter, William Taylor was a keen photographer and had an 8 mm cine camera in his possession. She mentions in her letter to NFAI that William Taylor managed to take the footage, though not of high quality, but succeeded in capturing important players on this historic occasion. He had fond memories of the place and returned to Simla along with his wife much later to show her the town and its surroundings, which they both loved. William Taylor died in 2010. “He would be very proud that the footage is being preserved in India”, Ms Margaret South said.

“We appeal to all to come forward and send us such footages that are rare and having archival value so that it can be preserved for future generations”, Shri Prakash Magdum said.

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Source: NFAI



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