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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.

"Pepys, the Domesday Book, the films of Mitchell and Kenyon – there are certain works of record without which the lineage of our lives would be lost."

Danny Boyle

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Edwardian Britain on Film

Recommended

View Tram Ride through Sunderland
Tram Ride through Sunderland
Watch for free 2 mins

Tram Ride through Sunderland 1904

The thrill of a ride through central Sunderland to the sea at Roker.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Burnley v Manchester United
Burnley v Manchester United
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Burnley v Manchester United 1902

First-ever footage of Manchester United in a tense Edwardian football fixture.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Scenes at Chester on the River Dee
Scenes at Chester on the River Dee
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Scenes at Chester on the River Dee 1901

Messing about in boats on the River Dee - fine frocks and frolics at Chester Regatta.

7 mins United Kingdom

View Street Scenes in Halifax
Street Scenes in Halifax
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Street Scenes in Halifax 1902

Many views of busy, bustling Halifax, including a handsome, horse-drawn steam fire engine.

9 mins United Kingdom

View Road to Restoration
Road to Restoration
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Road to Restoration 2005

How the magnificent Mitchell & Kenyon collection was resurrected, thanks to the dedication and skill of the BFI National Archive.

Great Britain

View North Sea Fisheries, North Shields
North Sea Fisheries, North Shields
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North Sea Fisheries, North Shields 1901

Girls gut herring on the quay at North Shields while a Showman tries to stir up trouble.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery
Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery
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Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery 1900

A black miner makes an intriguing addition to an already captivating film of coal workers up from their pit.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Lady Godiva Procession in Coventry
Lady Godiva Procession in Coventry
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Lady Godiva Procession in Coventry 1902

Crowds pay homage to the legendary naked rider during Coventry’s Edwardian coronation celebrations.

6 mins United Kingdom

View Llandudno May Day
Llandudno May Day
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Llandudno May Day 1907

May Day festivities in the North Wales town.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Buxton Well Dressing
Buxton Well Dressing
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Buxton Well Dressing 1904

A lavish bioscope show, maypole dancing and decorated wells in Edwardian Derbyshire.

7 mins United Kingdom

View Panorama of the River Avon to Portishead
Panorama of the River Avon to Portishead
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Panorama of the River Avon to Portishead 1902

A fine variety of views of the Avon gorge taken from various positions downstream from the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

United Kingdom

View Phantom Ride on the Furness Railway
Phantom Ride on the Furness Railway
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Phantom Ride on the Furness Railway 1900

A driver's view of the Furness Railway through Furness Abbey Tunnel and Station.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Tram Ride through Sunderland
Tram Ride through Sunderland
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Tram Ride through Sunderland 1904

The thrill of a ride through central Sunderland to the sea at Roker.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Scenes at Egremont Ferry
Scenes at Egremont Ferry
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Scenes at Egremont Ferry 1901

Edwardian tourists and businessmen hurry off the ferry and down the long pier at Egremont on the River Mersey.

United Kingdom

View Cunard Mail Steamer Lucania Leaving For America
Cunard Mail Steamer Lucania Leaving For America
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Cunard Mail Steamer Lucania Leaving For America 1901

The luxurious RMS Lucania is bound for New York in one of Mitchell & Kenyon's most elaborate and striking films.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Manchester Street Scenes
Manchester Street Scenes
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Manchester Street Scenes 1901

A rare glimpse of early Edwardian Manchester when the horse-drawn tram still reigned supreme.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Living Wigan
Living Wigan
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Living Wigan 1902

A lively crowd surround the camera filming a tram leaving Wigan Market Place.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Sheffield Street Accident
Sheffield Street Accident
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Sheffield Street Accident 1902

The aftermath of an accident on the streets of Edwardian Sheffield.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Buxton Skyline
Buxton Skyline
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Buxton Skyline 1901

A striking panorama of the Peak District town and its magnificent Georgian Crescent.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Scenes at Monument Bridge in Hull
Scenes at Monument Bridge in Hull
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Scenes at Monument Bridge in Hull 1900

A melee of traffic, carts, trams, bicycles and people of all ages squeeze past the camera in Victorian Hull.

United Kingdom

View Street Scenes in Halifax
Street Scenes in Halifax
Watch for free 9 mins

Street Scenes in Halifax 1902

Many views of busy, bustling Halifax, including a handsome, horse-drawn steam fire engine.

9 mins United Kingdom

View Loreburn School, Dumfries
Loreburn School, Dumfries
Watch for free 1 mins

Loreburn School, Dumfries 1901

Dumfries schoolchildren take their turn in the spotlight.

1 mins United Kingdom

View York Road Board School, Leeds
York Road Board School, Leeds
Watch for free 3 mins

York Road Board School, Leeds 1901

A small battalion of Yorkshire schoolchildren lines up for a playground photograph.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Treat to 5000 Poor Burnley Children
Treat to 5000 Poor Burnley Children
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Treat to 5000 Poor Burnley Children 1905

Deprived Edwardian kids of Burnley enjoy some midsummer fun in the park.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Audley Range School, Blackburn
Audley Range School, Blackburn
Watch for free 1 mins

Audley Range School, Blackburn 1905

Lancashire children perform physical education exercises in (almost) perfect unison.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Children at St Barnabas School, Blackburn
Children at St Barnabas School, Blackburn
Watch for free 1 mins

Children at St Barnabas School, Blackburn 1905

Edwardian primary schoolchildren are marshalled along the streets of Blackburn in strict formation.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Funeral of Queen Victoria
Funeral of Queen Victoria
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Funeral of Queen Victoria 1901

The crowds stand silent as the nation says goodbye to Queen Victoria in February 1901.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Joseph Chamberlain at Home
Joseph Chamberlain at Home
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Joseph Chamberlain at Home 1902

A political giant at his magnificent Highbury estate in Birmingham.

United Kingdom

View Return of Kitchener
Return of Kitchener
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Return of Kitchener 1902

Lord Kitchener, Commander-in-Chief of the British army, returns from South Africa to cheering crowds.

United Kingdom

View Princess Louise at Liverpool
Princess Louise at Liverpool
Watch for free 1 mins

Princess Louise at Liverpool 1906

A bagpipe band marches in honour of Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, on her visit to Liverpool.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Coronation of Edward VII
Coronation of Edward VII
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Coronation of Edward VII 1902

A short glimpse of the new King's delayed coronation procession through London.

United Kingdom

View Prince of Siam in Liverpool
Prince of Siam in Liverpool
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Prince of Siam in Liverpool 1901

The future King of Siam takes a trip across the Mersey.

3 mins United Kingdom

View The King's Ride in the Isle of Man
The King's Ride in the Isle of Man
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The King's Ride in the Isle of Man 1902

Crowds clamour for a view of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (on tour) in the Isle of Man.

United Kingdom

View Arthur Mold Bowling to A.N. Hornby
Arthur Mold Bowling to A.N. Hornby
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Arthur Mold Bowling to A.N. Hornby 1901

Did he bowl or did he throw? A fascinating record of an early cricketing controversy.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Burnley v Manchester United
Burnley v Manchester United
Watch for free 2 mins

Burnley v Manchester United 1902

First-ever footage of Manchester United in a tense Edwardian football fixture.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Trafalgar Day in Liverpool
Trafalgar Day in Liverpool
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Trafalgar Day in Liverpool 1901

Huge crowds turn out in Edwardian Liverpool for the annual celebrations marking the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Return of the Lancaster Volunteers
Return of the Lancaster Volunteers
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Return of the Lancaster Volunteers 1902

Some nifty product placement creeps in to this formal portrait of the Lancaster Volunteers.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Torpedo Flotilla Visit to Manchester
Torpedo Flotilla Visit to Manchester
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Torpedo Flotilla Visit to Manchester 1901

The might of the British Navy struts its stuff down the Manchester Ship Canal.

19 mins United Kingdom

View Lord Roberts' Visit to Manchester
Lord Roberts' Visit to Manchester
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Lord Roberts' Visit to Manchester 1901

The Boer War hero addresses a capacity crowd in Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens and unveils a statue to the late Queen Victoria.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Manchester Catholics Whitsuntide Procession
Manchester Catholics Whitsuntide Procession
Watch for free 10 mins

Manchester Catholics Whitsuntide Procession 1904

A damp and murky day greets the annual Whitsuntide Catholic procession in Edwardian Manchester.

10 mins United Kingdom

View Carnival Processions in Birkenhead
Carnival Processions in Birkenhead
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Carnival Processions in Birkenhead 1902

May Queens and drag queens, cadets and clowns: thousands turn out for an Edwardian fundraiser in the Merseyside town.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Manchester Italian Catholic Procession
Manchester Italian Catholic Procession
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Manchester Italian Catholic Procession 1902

Residents of Manchester's own 'Little Italy' put on a display of religious pomp during the city's annual Whit Walk.

United Kingdom

View Arrest of Goudie
Arrest of Goudie
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Arrest of Goudie 1901

Crimewatch Mitchell and Kenyon style, in the first ever film to recreate a true crime.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Morning Wash
Morning Wash
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Morning Wash 1900

An old joke but a merry one.

United Kingdom

View Snowballs
Snowballs
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Snowballs 1901

Young scamps launch a snowball attack on a hapless bobby.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Lizars, Edinburgh
Lizars, Edinburgh
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Lizars, Edinburgh 1904

Can you identify this Edwardian comic, playing a gossiping Rajah?

United Kingdom

View Mr Moon Outtakes
Mr Moon Outtakes
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Mr Moon Outtakes 1901

Rare production footage of an early 'trick' film with a famous music hall performer.

United Kingdom

View Sporting Colliers and the Bobby
Sporting Colliers and the Bobby
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Sporting Colliers and the Bobby 1901

A policeman breaks up a gambling den, but is caught pocketing the proceeds.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Lizars, Edinburgh
Lizars, Edinburgh
Watch for free

Lizars, Edinburgh 1904

Can you identify this Edwardian comic, playing a gossiping Rajah?

United Kingdom

View Unidentified Trams and Walking Race
Unidentified Trams and Walking Race
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Unidentified Trams and Walking Race 1902

Scenes of a crowded Edwardian city street with trams and an informal walking race on open ground.

United Kingdom

View Pay, Factory Gate
Pay, Factory Gate
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Pay, Factory Gate 1901

An unidentified workplace is the scene of a vivid slice of turn-of-the-century life.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Exit of Clerical and Factory Workers
Exit of Clerical and Factory Workers
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Exit of Clerical and Factory Workers 1900

It's home time for men and women at an imposing but unidentified workplace - or two?

2 mins United Kingdom

View Parade of Schoolchildren
Parade of Schoolchildren
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Parade of Schoolchildren 1903

Can you identify this street corner, or perhaps a young face in the parade?

2 mins United Kingdom

View Everton v Liverpool
Everton v Liverpool
Watch for free 1 mins

Everton v Liverpool 1902

The earliest surviving Merseyside derby on film catches two of Everton's goals in a 3-1 home win.

1 mins United Kingdom

View England v Ireland at Manchester
England v Ireland at Manchester
Watch for free 1 mins

England v Ireland at Manchester 1905

An Edwardian contest between teams representing the English and Irish Football Leagues, with plenty of goal-line action.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Burnley v Manchester United
Burnley v Manchester United
Watch for free 2 mins

Burnley v Manchester United 1902

First-ever footage of Manchester United in a tense Edwardian football fixture.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Sheffield United v Bury
Sheffield United v Bury
Watch for free 2 mins

Sheffield United v Bury 1902

Sparkling images of fans and players at an Edwardian fixture at Sheffield's Bramall Lane.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Everton v Newcastle United
Everton v Newcastle United
Watch for free 6 mins

Everton v Newcastle United 1902

The camera is a welcome distraction to the spectators of a home defeat at Goodison Park.

6 mins United Kingdom

View Preston North End v Aston Villa
Preston North End v Aston Villa
Watch for free 1 mins

Preston North End v Aston Villa 1905

Early football giants Preston and Villa face up in an epic Edwardian contest.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Wales v Ireland at Wrexham
Wales v Ireland at Wrexham
Watch for free 1 mins

Wales v Ireland at Wrexham 1906

International football action in front of an enthusiastic home crowd in Wrexham.

1 mins United Kingdom

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