THE fate of a 250-year-old chestnut tree and mysteries of a legendary cave are revealed in archive television footage of quirky local stories.

The BBC, which celebrates its centenary next year, has been opening up its video archives, and the Telegraph & Argus has been showcasing some of the footage on our website. Now the BBC has released its final batch of reports from its collection of unusual news footage, much of it shot in and around the Bradford district. Spanning the decades from TV’s post-war switch-on, the films are a fascinating snapshot of local life.

In a report first broadcast on John Craven's Newsround on December 9, 1976, Jeremy Thompson looked at attempts to save an ancient Chestnut tree in the Calder valley. Two centuries previously, Methodist leader John Wesley had preached from beneath the tree, but, said Jeremy: "Now it's going to take more than prayers to save this historic tree. Old age, decay and the Pennine winds have left the Horse Chestnut in danger of disintegration. It is hoped major surgery will give this 250-year-old tree a new lease of life."

Over in Knaresborough, Julian Pettifer reported on the legend of Old Mother Shipton, in a Tonight broadcast from February 1965. Examining the petrifying well and caves, he said the site had been: "A tourist attraction since 1630...now 5,000 people come here a week".

In November 1963 Fyfe Robertson visited Pontefract, famous for its liquorice sweets. The film showed the West Yorkshire town's famous Pontefract Cakes being produced, with Fyfe revealing: "When Medieval monks first tried to grow the Mediterranean liquorice plant in England, one of the few places where soil conditions were right was Pontefract."

The T&A has been highlighting other BBC archive films over recent weeks, including a 1975 Nationwide report on a "miracle hot air bed" invented by three Bradford men. Sitting side by side on the bed, the three men in grey suits told the current affairs show how “Bradford’s answer to the electric blanket" worked.

In 1987 Tomorrow’s World presenter Howard Stableford went to a Pudsey chip shop to witness "the first ever computer-controlled fish fryer", and in 1990 a Scene report featured youngsters from the Mahmood family sharing their account of what it was like to be Muslim growing up in Bradford at the time. And in 1962 Fyfe Robertson reported from the clock tower at Bradford’s Town Hall, where the bells were pealing out "pop tunes and the theme from Dr Kildare and Z Cars".