Edwardian Britain on Film
Welcome to a lost world. These amazing films, lost for nearly a century, offer something close to time travel - a journey into the Britain of our great grandparents, courtesy of filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon.
Their films give us stunning images of ordinary life in late-Victorian and Edwardian Britain: factory workers, church congregations and schoolchildren, street scenes, tram rides, local events and sport. This isn't the stuffy, middle-class world we usually see. These Edwardians laugh, grin and point at the camera, even make rude gestures. Film brings them to life in a way that no painting or photograph could.
The story began in 1994, when three metal churns were found in a Blackburn basement. They were stuffed with hundreds of rolls of 35mm film, dating from around 1900 to 1913. The films ultimately passed, via their initial custodian Peter Worden, to the BFI, beginning a five-year project of cataloguing and restoration. With great skill, BFI archivists reproduced superb image quality from the often damaged original negatives.
Meanwhile a team uniting the University of Sheffield and the BFI researched the films' background. In the process, the story of early film was rewritten. Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon had been thought minor figures. We now know that their Blackburn-based company belonged to an important world of local, non-fiction filmmaking that thrived in the early 1900s. Touring northern and central England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, they made films to order for fairground operators and other showmen to screen to paying audiences, offering punters the chance to 'see yourself as others see you'.
A 2005 BBC series, cinema screenings and DVD releases brought the films to national attention. Now, for the first time, the collection (some 28 hours) is available in full. So dig in and enjoy. And spare a thought for your great grandparents, some of whom thrilled to these images when they were fresh from the camera.
Digitisation of this Collection was funded by The National Lottery.
The beautiful game, Edwardian style, in some of the earliest ever film of League football
Fun outside the factory gates: views of a long-lost world of working life.
A nation unwinds - but keeps its hat firmly on.
Pavements thronging, traffic pressed nose to bumper (or tail) - the Edwardian street buzzed with life.
How the magnificent Mitchell & Kenyon collection was resurrected, thanks to the dedication and skill of the BFI National Archive.
The birth of Match of the Day? Not exactly, but Mitchell and Kenyon were pioneers in filming sporting events.
Who, what, where? Calling amateur detectives - can you help us solve these mysteries?
Historical re-enactions, comic sketches and a groundbreaking 'true crime' film...
Little angels and little devils: Edwardian children line up for the camera.
Britain's victorious troops return from a distant war to a rapturous welcome.
Church is the place to meet, see and be seen for these faithful Edwardians.
Royals, military heroes and sportsmen compete in the Edwardian fame game.
Britain in the early 20th century was a society in a hurry - and transport was changing fast.
Splendid views of Edwardian Rochdale from the front of a tram after a recent dusting of snow.
Filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon conduct an evocative ride through Edwardian Nottingham.
An excellent 'phantom ride' through the heart of Edwardian Yorkshire's 'Steel City'.
A breathtaking winter journey in the Pennines, from country to town and back again via electric tram.
An epic tour of the places and people of Edwardian Bradford.
Crowds line up for a fleeting glimpse of the Prince of Wales, later George V.