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1916 on Film

The war dragged on - and on… but cinemas offered more news from the Front, while trying to entertain those at home. Watch along with cinemagoers a century ago.

The war really began to take its toll on the film industry in 1916. Films and film stock were harder to come by, while conscription robbed studios and cinemas of workers. The big release of the year was The Battle of the Somme, a government-sanctioned 'documentary' seen by some 20 million people. Government relaxed its censorship, allowing greater (but still limited) access to the Front and commissioning films to keep the public informed. Cinema managers did their bit for the war effort by absorbing the entertainment tax and raising funds for ambulances across the sector.

The newsreels increased their war coverage, carrying reports from the Front and stories of returning heroes and war work at home. Repackaged travelogues and information films helped make up for the shortage of new titles. The war increasingly crept into comedies and drama. One comic hero found himself pursued by man-hungry land girls, while moralistic features explored the strains on marriage during wartime or warned of German fifth columnists infiltrating the aristocracy.

This collection is supported by The Eric Anker-Petersen Charity

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1916 on Film

RECOMMENDED

View Shower Baths in the Trenches
Shower Baths in the Trenches
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Shower Baths in the Trenches 1916

A humble scrub is all it takes to get these French troops in a lather.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Airship No. 9
Airship No. 9
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Airship No. 9 1916

The maiden flight of Britain's first successful rigid airship – just don’t call it a zeppelin…

United Kingdom

View The Scarecrow
The Scarecrow
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The Scarecrow 1916

A tramp steals the clothes from a scarecrow, but when he realises two couples are using its pockets to pass messages, he sees an opportunity.

11 mins United Kingdom Director. Cecil Birch

View Tubby's Typewriter
Tubby's Typewriter
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Tubby's Typewriter 1916

Newlywed Tubby fancies another man's typewriter and ends up in hot water with his new wife

8 mins United Kingdom Director. Frank Wilson

View Industrial Sidelights
Industrial Sidelights
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Industrial Sidelights 1916

Goat farming, salmon farming and copper mining all feature in this enlightening oddity.

7 mins United Kingdom

BROWSE THE COLLECTION

View The Man with the Glass Eye
The Man with the Glass Eye
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The Man with the Glass Eye 1916

There's shades of Moriarty to the mastervillain in this wartime potboiler.

58 mins United Kingdom

View Cheddar
Cheddar
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Cheddar 1916

Pure tranquillity in rural Somerset, a world away from the war raging on the continent.

6 mins United Kingdom

View Hastings Sea Angling Festival
Hastings Sea Angling Festival
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Hastings Sea Angling Festival 1916

It's Hastings' first fishing festival since WWI broke out and Britain's foremost newsreel company take to the pier to capture the catch on film.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Empire Day
Empire Day
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Empire Day 1916

London schoolchildren wave their flags for the first official Empire Day, as soldiers parade in the playground.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Pimple's Part
Pimple's Part
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Pimple's Part 1916

The clownish Pimple turns thespian with inevitably chaotic results in this riotous comic fragment.

3 mins United Kingdom Director. Joe Evans, Fred Evans

View Shortage of Munitions
Shortage of Munitions
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Shortage of Munitions 1916

Was this a lesson in how to shell out on frontline firepower?

2 mins United Kingdom

View Sinn Fein Rebels
Sinn Fein Rebels
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Sinn Fein Rebels 1916

In the wake of the defeated Easter Rising in Dublin, the British Army parades its Republican prisoners.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Trial of Casement
Trial of Casement
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Trial of Casement 1916

Crowds throng Bow Street during the trial of British diplomat turned Irish nationalist Roger Casement.

1 mins United Kingdom

View St Patrick's Day
St Patrick's Day
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St Patrick's Day 1916

Smiling soldiers receive shamrocks at a traditional St Patrick's Day ceremony.

United Kingdom

View British Sports and Pastimes 2
British Sports and Pastimes 2
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British Sports and Pastimes 2 1916

Rip-roaring motorboat scenes, plus one of the earliest examples of the Boat Race on film

8 mins United Kingdom

View British Sports and Pastimes 5
British Sports and Pastimes 5
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British Sports and Pastimes 5 1916

British leisure time, from intrepid climbing and frolics on the ice to the skill of billiards.

8 mins United Kingdom

View Aeroplanes
Aeroplanes
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Aeroplanes 1916

Magnificent men - or perhaps women - in their flying machines in this beautifully tinted film fragment

United Kingdom

View Blinded Soldiers Playing Push Ball
Blinded Soldiers Playing Push Ball
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Blinded Soldiers Playing Push Ball 1916

This moving scene of wounded WWI fighters in a London park reminds us of the real costs of combat.

1 mins United Kingdom

View The Great Blizzard
The Great Blizzard
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The Great Blizzard 1916

In the year that British Summer Time is introduced, the weather gods have their say, with a snowy gale ripping across southern England

1 mins United Kingdom

View Hands Off Baby's Milk
Hands Off Baby's Milk
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Hands Off Baby's Milk 1916

High milk prices during WWI drive mother and child onto the street in protest

1 mins United Kingdom

View From Trinidad to Serve the Empire
From Trinidad to Serve the Empire
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From Trinidad to Serve the Empire 1916

Colonial recruits from Trinidad meet the Lord Mayor of London during WWI.

1 mins United Kingdom

View John Bull's Animated Sketch Book
John Bull's Animated Sketch Book
Watch for free 7 mins

John Bull's Animated Sketch Book 1916

The hand of the artist tweaks the nose of “Kaiser Bill” and friends in this episode from an early animated propaganda series

7 mins United Kingdom Director. Anson Dyer

View Little Cripples Day
Little Cripples Day
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Little Cripples Day 1916

A generous display of charity from London - or just good PR for the politicians?

1 mins United Kingdom

View Tubby's Rest Cure
Tubby's Rest Cure
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Tubby's Rest Cure 1916

WWI conscription has whisked away all the young men, leaving the girls so man-hungry that even Tubby looks attractive!

15 mins United Kingdom Director. Frank Wilson

View Horses' New Year's Dinners
Horses' New Year's Dinners
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Horses' New Year's Dinners 1916

Retired nags enjoy a well-earned New Year's feed at the Cricklewood Home of Rest for Horses.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Maundy Money
Maundy Money
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Maundy Money 1916

The elderly of Westminster are the grinning beneficiaries of royal charity on Maundy Thursday.

United Kingdom

View Chiswick's Gallant Gunner
Chiswick's Gallant Gunner
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Chiswick's Gallant Gunner 1916

Three cheers for Maurice Samuels, as a Chiswick tram driver receives a medal for bravery at the Western Front at Ypres.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Eccentric Club Entertain Wounded Soldiers
Eccentric Club Entertain Wounded Soldiers
Watch for free 3 mins

Eccentric Club Entertain Wounded Soldiers 1916

Soldiers stage a mock brawl and watch performances during festivities for 600 wounded soldiers held on an island in the Thames near Hampton Court.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Bruce Castle Fete
Bruce Castle Fete
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Bruce Castle Fete 1916

A huge crowd watches the Lord Mayor of London open a fete in Tottenham for blinded soldiers and sailors.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Army Economy
Army Economy
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Army Economy 1916

Soldiers show off a fine crop of sprouts, grown at the Army Service Corps depot at Osterley Park in Hounslow.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Caterpillar Tractors Pull Gun Carriages
Caterpillar Tractors Pull Gun Carriages
Watch for free 1 mins

Caterpillar Tractors Pull Gun Carriages 1916

New Zealand artillery troops might not have to pull their big guns, but they are in for a bumpy ride

1 mins United Kingdom

View New Zealanders Win At Rugby
New Zealanders Win At Rugby
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New Zealanders Win At Rugby 1916

Soldiers representing South Africa and New Zealand billeted in London get stuck in during a rugby fixture in Richmond Park.

1 mins United Kingdom

View The Town Crier
The Town Crier
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The Town Crier 1916

Oyez! What's the news from Devizes' town crier?

United Kingdom

View Demonstration of the Churches
Demonstration of the Churches
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Demonstration of the Churches 1916

Top-hatted dignitaries turn out in force for this service held to honour Wanstead locals serving in the armed forces.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Wimbledon Election
Wimbledon Election
Watch for free 1 mins

Wimbledon Election 1916

A wonderful newsreel showing scenes at the 1916 by-election in Wimbledon, featuring charismatic challenger Kennedy Jones.

1 mins United Kingdom

View London’s May Queen
London’s May Queen
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London’s May Queen 1916

Excitable children in their Sunday finery gawp at cameras during the parade for London’s May Queen.

United Kingdom

View Devonshire Hospital Buxton
Devonshire Hospital Buxton
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Devonshire Hospital Buxton 1916

Rheumatic soldiers are treated with the latest in hydrotherapy at the Devonshire Hospital in Buxton, Derbyshire.

2 mins United Kingdom

View In the Interests of Mercy
In the Interests of Mercy
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In the Interests of Mercy 1916

Firepower and fancy dress as a captured German field gun is the focus of a parade through Croydon to mark Red Cross Week.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Special Constables Sunday
Special Constables Sunday
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Special Constables Sunday 1916

Brass bands, bicycles and marching special constables outside the Albert Hall for a Sunday presentation before Bishop John Taylor-Smith.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Palm Sunday Celebrations
Palm Sunday Celebrations
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Palm Sunday Celebrations 1916

Palms and fanfare ahead of Easter - a salient event in the Christian calendar is captured with crisp clarity.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Home-coming of Private Young, Preston's V.C.
Home-coming of Private Young, Preston's V.C.
Watch for free 7 mins

Home-coming of Private Young, Preston's V.C. 1916

Preston turns out in force for the homecoming of Private William Young, the valiant recipient of a Victoria Cross

7 mins United Kingdom

View Richmond Boys Naval Brigade
Richmond Boys Naval Brigade
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Richmond Boys Naval Brigade 1916

Young sailors from the Boys Naval Brigade give a demonstration on the lawn of the Star & Garter Home in Richmond.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Inspection of Special Constables
Inspection of Special Constables
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Inspection of Special Constables 1916

Crowds applaud 900 Special Constables as they drill before a packed pavilion in Barking.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Lord Charles Beresford in France
Lord Charles Beresford in France
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Lord Charles Beresford in France 1916

A military legend on location, and some vertiginous thrills from a balloon.

7 mins United Kingdom

View Liverpool Honours Heroes
Liverpool Honours Heroes
Watch for free 1 mins

Liverpool Honours Heroes 1916

Poignant scenes as a public roll of honour for Liverpool and Merseyside's war dead is unveiled.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Gaumont Graphic No. 580
Gaumont Graphic No. 580
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Gaumont Graphic No. 580 1916

Speed and stealth are on display as a US submarine tests its capabilities in this mid-WWI newsreel.

United Kingdom

View USA Airship Somewhere in England
USA Airship Somewhere in England
Watch for free 6 mins

USA Airship Somewhere in England 1916

Coming out, going up and landing – a British-built Sea Scout Zero class blimp is put through its paces with the US Navy

6 mins United Kingdom

View Anzac Day
Anzac Day
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Anzac Day 1916

London's at a sombre standstill as both ends of the Empire mark wartime casualties.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Tests from Aeroplanes
Tests from Aeroplanes
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Tests from Aeroplanes 1916

Developing the lifebelt of the air - or "how the stranglehold demon was exorcised"

13 mins United Kingdom

View The Cornish Riviera
The Cornish Riviera
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The Cornish Riviera 1916

Sail away to a bygone Cornwall in this wistful coastal travelogue

3 mins United Kingdom

View The Porcupine - A Prickly Subject
The Porcupine - A Prickly Subject
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The Porcupine - A Prickly Subject 1916

Close encounters of the furred (and spiny) kind: cute critters put through their paces in this light-hearted nature film.

United Kingdom

View London under Snow
London under Snow
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London under Snow 1916

WWI recruits apply their training - to a friendly snowball fight

1 mins United Kingdom

View Tom Brown's Schooldays
Tom Brown's Schooldays
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Tom Brown's Schooldays 1916 U

The adventures of the spirited Tom Brown at Rugby School in the 1830s.

95 mins United Kingdom Director. Rex Wilson

View Sylvia's Suspicions
Sylvia's Suspicions
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Sylvia's Suspicions 1916

Daft comedy in which a suspicious wife poses as a naked Venus statue to spy on her husband

United Kingdom

View Interesting Incidents
Interesting Incidents
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Interesting Incidents 1916

Brace yourself for some unusual and sometimes disturbing sights from round the world

7 mins United Kingdom

View On the Banks of Allan Water
On the Banks of Allan Water
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On the Banks of Allan Water 1916

The course of true love certainly doesn't run smooth in this unlikely Scottish drama from the Clarendon Film Company.

69 mins United Kingdom Director. Wilfred Noy

View Jack Spratt's Parrot Gets His Own Back
Jack Spratt's Parrot Gets His Own Back
Watch for free 12 mins

Jack Spratt's Parrot Gets His Own Back 1916

Parrot takes umbrage at ticking off and exacts revenge by being super annoying

12 mins United Kingdom Director. Toby Cooper

View Her Greatest Performance
Her Greatest Performance
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Her Greatest Performance 1916

Edith Craig in a short fragment of this lost crime drama.

89 mins United Kingdom Director. Fred Paul

View Married Mens' Call
Married Mens' Call
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Married Mens' Call 1916

The first married men to be conscripted to fight in WWI undergo training for the trenches.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Bowls at Blackpool
Bowls at Blackpool
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Bowls at Blackpool 1916

It's all about the angles at this bowls tourney, with the cameraman hitting the green for a nice ground level view.

1 mins United Kingdom

View 'Let Them all Come!'
'Let Them all Come!'
Watch for free 2 mins

'Let Them all Come!' 1916

The scorched remains of a downed “baby-killer” draws half of London to Snail’s Hall Farm near Billericay

2 mins United Kingdom

View Keep the Home Fires Burning
Keep the Home Fires Burning
Watch for free 17 mins

Keep the Home Fires Burning 1916

Two sisters love the same man - one marries him, but the effects of WWI complicate their relationship

17 mins United Kingdom Director. Ethyle Batley

Tessa Dunlop: 1916 on Film

Tessa Dunlop: 1916 on Film

6 films selected by Tessa Dunlop

View The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield
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The Vicar of Wakefield 1916

Leads and locations shine in this feature adaptation of Oliver Goldsmith's popular novel, a tale to soften hard hearts

89 mins United Kingdom Director. Fred Paul

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