This revealing amateur film throws light on the coexistence of Chinese and European communities in Tianjin (then Tientsin), the largest coastal metropolis in northern China. After an opening offering snapshots of a procession through the city streets, the scene soon changes to a leafy private garden, where western girls take tea - a perfect slice of British middle-class life recreated in China.
Like its neighbour Beijing, Tianjin was home to many established European communities in the 1920s and 30s. Its proximity to the Grand Canal had allowed the city to develop as a major sea-port and trading capital. In 1858 the Treaty of Tianjin also opened it up to foreign trade - and foreign influences. This was one of a collection of films filmed by amateur filmmaker J.G. Thompson - who worked on the Peking railway - in the late 1920s and early 30s, and donated to the BFI in 1999 by Mrs R Ownsworth. Thompson shot a number of films in China, Japan and the Phillipines, as well as in Egypt.