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1914 on Film

What did our forebears watch a century ago? Discover the cinema of 1914 in this very mixed programme from the year the world changed.

Cinema a century ago was a new, exciting, very democratic form of entertainment coming into its own. Film had left behind the music halls and fairgrounds it had first inhabited and found a home of its own. It was the beginning of the age of the picture palaces. These often luxurious early cinemas sprang up across the country, offering friendly, sociable entertainment - a more family-oriented alternative to theatres and pubs. Longer feature films were still rare, and the typical programme was an ever-changing roster of short items with live musical accompaniment: perhaps a newsreel, an 'interest' film or travelogue, a comedy or two and a short drama. Few at the start of 1914 forecast the storm that would engulf Europe by the end of summer. These films also tell us much about the state of the nation in the months before and after the outbreak of a war that would change Britain and film. 100 years on, this collection whisks us back to the world of our cinemagoing grandparents and great-grandparents, allowing us to see for ourselves some of the films they once watched and enjoyed.

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Lt Pimple and the Stolen Submarine
Lt Pimple and the Stolen Submarine
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Lt Pimple and the Stolen Submarine

Comedy191414 mins Location: Twickenham

The intrepid Lieutenant Pimple thwarts foreign enemies in an action-packed wartime spy spoof.

From Antwerp to Ostend
From Antwerp to Ostend
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From Antwerp to Ostend

Travelogue19145 mins

On the brink of invasion, holidaymakers promenade while refugees shelter in beach huts on the Belgian coastline in 1914.

German Spy Peril
German Spy Peril
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German Spy Peril

War19147 mins

Inventive WWI propaganda in which a rejected volunteer foils a German plot to blow up Parliament.

A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol
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A Christmas Carol

Fantasy191423 mins

A well-acted early version of Charles Dickens' much loved Christmas story, featuring some impressive ghost sequences.

Egypt and Her Defenders
Egypt and Her Defenders
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Egypt and Her Defenders

Travelogue191410 mins

Cairo street scenes, the pyramids, the majestic Nile and a visiting Lord Kitchener in a gorgeous tinted travelogue.

Gloves of Ptames
Gloves of Ptames
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Gloves of Ptames

Fantasy19149 mins

A mysterious pair of gloves from an ancient Egyptian tomb cause chaos in this silent 'trick' comedy.

Mr Churchill's Departure
Mr Churchill's Departure
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Mr Churchill's Departure

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: London

A handsome steam launch ferries the future PM downriver to the luxury yacht 'Enchantress'.

How Things Do Develop
How Things Do Develop
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How Things Do Develop

Comedy19147 mins

Two budding photographers enjoy a day's happy snapping in this quaint comedy caper.

Palace Pandemonium
Palace Pandemonium
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Palace Pandemonium

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Buckingham Palace

The campaign for women's suffrage steps up as Emmeline Pankhurst is arrested at the gates of Buckingham Palace.

Balloon Accident at St Cloud
Balloon Accident at St Cloud
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Balloon Accident at St Cloud

Non-Fiction19141 mins

An aeronautical accident is caught on camera at a Parisian 'Aéro-Parc'.

Sea Dreams
Sea Dreams
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Sea Dreams

Animation & Artists Moving Image19146 mins

Skilled artist Lancelot Speed brings his cartoons to life to mock the German navy at the start of WWI.

An All-round Athlete
An All-round Athlete
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An All-round Athlete

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Putney

Swimming champion Walter Brickett enters the record books with an incredible feat of physical endurance.

Venetian Shores
Venetian Shores
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Venetian Shores

Non-Fiction19145 mins

Blissful scenes of tourists arriving by boat and then sea bathing on a beach in the Venetian lagoon.

Red Cross Dogs
Red Cross Dogs
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Red Cross Dogs

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Talented and obedient Red Cross dogs prepare to rescue Berlin's wounded from the Front.

Servants Superceded
Servants Superceded
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Servants Superceded

Trick film19117 mins

Two gifted servants perform magical feats for their employer with the aid of some impressive cinematic trick effects.

General French's Contemptible Little Army
General French's Contemptible Little Army
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General French's Contemptible Little Army

Animation & Artists Moving Image19147 mins

Mixing lightning sketches with animation, this propaganda cartoon comes to life in defence of the British fighting force of 1914.

Preparing the Rations
Preparing the Rations
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Preparing the Rations

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Ear-to-ear grins prove that an army marches on its stomach in this poignant film of young WWI reservists at a field kitchen far from home.

Lord Mayor's Show
Lord Mayor's Show
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Lord Mayor's Show

Non-Fiction19142 mins Location: London

Colonial troops greet London's new Lord Mayor in a patriotic wartime ceremony.

Motor V. Aeroplane
Motor V. Aeroplane
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Motor V. Aeroplane

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Brooklands

A visit to the famous Brooklands race track in Weybridge, Surrey, where Saturday afternoon crowds gather for the big race.

England Expects
England Expects
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England Expects

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Trafalgar Square

A memorial to Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square inspires new heroes as war rages again in Europe.

Wrecked "Rohilla"
Wrecked "Rohilla"
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Wrecked "Rohilla"

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Whitby

A hospital ship is tragically wrecked off the North Yorkshire coast during World War I.

Stone Age Village: Sir H. Beerbohm Tree Assists in the Hastings Pageant Festivities
Stone Age Village: Sir H. Beerbohm Tree Assists in the Hastings Pageant Festivities
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Stone Age Village: Sir H. Beerbohm Tree Assists in the Hastings Pageant Festivities

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Hastings

Legendary theatrical actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree steps back in time as guest of honour at a historical pageant in East Sussex.

Indian's Memorial Service
Indian's Memorial Service
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Indian's Memorial Service

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Earl's Court

Exotic visitors cause a stir at West London's Brompton Cemetery

Love Story of Ann Thomas the Maid of Cefn Ydfa
Love Story of Ann Thomas the Maid of Cefn Ydfa
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Love Story of Ann Thomas the Maid of Cefn Ydfa

Romance191434 mins Location: Cefn Ydfa

Lovingly rendered version of a traditional Welsh folk tale of thwarted romance, set in 17th-century Cefn Ydfa.

Mike Murphy As Picture Actor
Mike Murphy As Picture Actor
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Mike Murphy As Picture Actor

Comedy19146 mins

Cut! An aspiring thespian runs amok on a film set in this slapstick silent comedy.

Our Submarines
Our Submarines
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Our Submarines

Non-Fiction19141 mins

British submarine inspection at Spithead just before the start of World War I. This was issued in December after a sub sunk a ship in the Dardanelles action of 1914.

Christmas at the Front
Christmas at the Front
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Christmas at the Front

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Poignant scenes of Allied troops enjoying their Yuletide rations at the first Christmas of WWI.

Winky's Ruse
Winky's Ruse
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Winky's Ruse

Comedy19146 mins

Gregarious tramp Winky tries to get one over on the local innkeeper in this daft silent comic short.

The Magic Glass
The Magic Glass
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The Magic Glass

Comedy191412 mins

An inventor develops a magnifying glass that can see though solid objects, but when he uses it on his family it proves more curse than boon...

London Scottish
London Scottish
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London Scottish

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Rare shots of the London Scottish Battalion, also known as 'Cockney Jocks' or 'Piccadilly Allsorts', fresh from a gallant victory at Ypres.

Empress of Ireland Disaster
Empress of Ireland Disaster
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Empress of Ireland Disaster

Non-Fiction19149 mins

Beautiful and chilling newsreel pictures of the worst maritime disaster in Canadian history.

Artillery at Alost
Artillery at Alost
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Artillery at Alost

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Belgium's defiance in the face of German occupation is poignantly captured in one long take.

Finding His Counterpart
Finding His Counterpart
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Finding His Counterpart

Comedy19149 mins

A comedy clot takes up phrenology and tries to find his ideal partner by feeling the bumps on women's heads, only to end up as a cannibal's dinner.

Gallant Defenders
Gallant Defenders
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Gallant Defenders

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Retreating Belgian troops arrive in Ostend in the wake of the Siege of Antwerp.

Battle of Lebbeke
Battle of Lebbeke
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Battle of Lebbeke

War19145 mins

Extraordinary early WWI footage of Belgian army delaying the German advance - aided by bicycles, armoured cars and machine-gun pulling dogs.

Gutty Golf Test Match
Gutty Golf Test Match
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Gutty Golf Test Match

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Moor Park

20th century golf measures up against its own past in an intriguing match play game.

And Very Nice Too
And Very Nice Too
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And Very Nice Too

Comedy19149 mins

A vicar is caught flirting with an improperly-dressed chorus girl in this saucy silent comedy.

Fife and Forfar Yeomanry
Fife and Forfar Yeomanry
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Fife and Forfar Yeomanry

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Huntingdon

Scots soldiers are drilled in trench warfare techniques in leafy English countryside.

Two Columbines
Two Columbines
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Two Columbines

Drama191433 mins

Moving theatre-set Christmas tale of a former dancer and her child

8,000 Men on Strike at Woolwich Arsenal
8,000 Men on Strike at Woolwich Arsenal
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8,000 Men on Strike at Woolwich Arsenal

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Woolwich

Munitions workers down tools, weeks before Britain enters WWI.

Dogs for the Antarctic
Dogs for the Antarctic
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Dogs for the Antarctic

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Beddington

Ernest Shackleton's sledge-dogs pause to promote 'Spratt's Dog Cakes', en route to the South Pole.

Ring and the Rajah
Ring and the Rajah
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Ring and the Rajah

Drama191414 mins

"East is east and west is west": an Indian maharajah falls for an Englishwoman with disastrous consequences in this early fiction short.

The Mystic Glove
The Mystic Glove
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The Mystic Glove

Comedy19145 mins

Bizarre comedy in which an overfed diner has a peculiar dream involving a spectre and magical gloves.

Carpentier and Gunboat Smith
Carpentier and Gunboat Smith
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Carpentier and Gunboat Smith

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Boxing stars Georges Carpentier and 'Gunboat' Smith pull the crowds ahead of their title bout for the World White Heavyweight Championship.

German Prisoners
German Prisoners
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German Prisoners

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Striking WWI scenes demonstrating a wary Belgian army's treatment of German prisoners - and newsreel cameramen...

King's Visit to Belgium
King's Visit to Belgium
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King's Visit to Belgium

Non-Fiction19145 mins

Moving scenes of wartime devastation in the historic Belgian city of Ypres.

Army Cross Country
Army Cross Country
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Army Cross Country

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Aldershot

Private Daly of the Connaught Rangers triumphs in the Aldershot Command annual cross country race, months before the outbreak of WWI.

Millionaires at Play
Millionaires at Play
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Millionaires at Play

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Enjoy the chilly thrills and spills of a bobsleigh ride in an exclusive New York suburb.

Looping the Loop at Hendon
Looping the Loop at Hendon
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Looping the Loop at Hendon

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Hendon

Spectacular feats of early aviation at Hendon Aerodrome, North London.

German Gun in London
German Gun in London
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German Gun in London

Non-Fiction19141 mins

An impressive WWI German field gun exhibited in the grounds of the War Office stands testament to the gains made by allied forces in Europe.

Lord Lovat's Scouts
Lord Lovat's Scouts
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Lord Lovat's Scouts

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Rare film of soldiers working out before heading to the battlefields.

Christmas Church Parade
Christmas Church Parade
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Christmas Church Parade

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Recruits of Lord Kitchener's 'New Army' parade on Christmas morning.

The Man Who Never Made Good
The Man Who Never Made Good
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The Man Who Never Made Good

Comedy19148 mins Location: Croydon

A bungling bumpkin fails at a number of jobs in this slapstick comedy - before he finds his true calling.

Royal Visit to Scotland
Royal Visit to Scotland
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Royal Visit to Scotland

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Scotland

HMS Benbow and Fairfield shipyard on the Clyde welcomes the King, Queen and Princess Mary.

A Fisher-girl's Folly
A Fisher-girl's Folly
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A Fisher-girl's Folly

Drama19142 mins

A tantalising fragment from a drama of love and jealousy on the North Devon coast.

Feeding the Germans
Feeding the Germans
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Feeding the Germans

Non-Fiction19141 mins

A rare glimpse of the WWI enemy at rest for British audiences

Comic Ulster Fight
Comic Ulster Fight
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Comic Ulster Fight

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Ballywater

Alternative Ulster: a village pageant with a difference

The Austrian Tragedy
The Austrian Tragedy
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The Austrian Tragedy

Non-Fiction19142 mins

A muted newsreel tribute to Austria's Archduke Franz Ferdinand - victim of an assassin's bullet in an event that would soon take Europe to war.

Mexican Unrest
Mexican Unrest
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Mexican Unrest

Non-Fiction19141 mins

The police of Mexico City are given arms during the Mexican Revolution, but seem somewhat unconvincing in this ceremonial parade.

A Patriotic Offer
A Patriotic Offer
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A Patriotic Offer

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: London

An introduction to the wonders of the automobile for curious WWI enlisties.

Naval Review 1914
Naval Review 1914
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Naval Review 1914

Non-Fiction19145 mins Location: Spithead

King George V reviews the British fleet at Spithead in July 1914, as Britain steels herself for war.

Paris Sensation
Paris Sensation
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Paris Sensation

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Newsreel cameras capture huge crowds thronging the Paris streets for the funeral of an assassinated newspaper editor.

Dublin Civic Exhibition
Dublin Civic Exhibition
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Dublin Civic Exhibition

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Lord and lady reformers crusade for Dublin's civic advancement.

The Rollicking Rajah
The Rollicking Rajah
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The Rollicking Rajah

Variety show19143 mins

Early Vivaphone film capturing a jolly music hall routine about a maharajah's visit to London, made to be screened with a synchronised sound disc.

Modern 'Huns' Leave Their Mark
Modern 'Huns' Leave Their Mark
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Modern 'Huns' Leave Their Mark

Non-Fiction19141 mins

The ruins of an unnamed Belgian town early in WWI.

Ostend in War-Time
Ostend in War-Time
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Ostend in War-Time

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Belgian soldiers and civilian refugees gather in Ostend in early WWI, before evacuating to England.

Sound of the Drum
Sound of the Drum
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Sound of the Drum

Non-Fiction1914 mins

A wartime call-to-arms performed by the Band of the Grenadier Guards.

Sons of the Empire
Sons of the Empire
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Sons of the Empire

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Grinning Canadian troops arrive in England.

Our Naval Losses
Our Naval Losses
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Our Naval Losses

Non-Fiction19141 mins

A moving eulogy to British ships sunk by the German navy in the early months of WWI.

Scout's Valuable Aid
Scout's Valuable Aid
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Scout's Valuable Aid

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Vigilant young Sea Scouts support the war effort by keeping a watchful eye on Britain's coastline.

An Engagement of Convenience
An Engagement of Convenience
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An Engagement of Convenience

Comedy191416 mins

Silent British star Alma Taylor finds love in this dramatic short, which packs forgery, blackmail and romance into its 15-minute running time.

Mexico: To Inspire Confidence in the People
Mexico: To Inspire Confidence in the People
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Mexico: To Inspire Confidence in the People

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Wonderfully clear newsreel pictures of a parade through Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution.

Henley Finals Witnessed by Enormous Crowds
Henley Finals Witnessed by Enormous Crowds
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Henley Finals Witnessed by Enormous Crowds

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Henley-on-Thames

A grand turn out for the last Henley Royal Regatta before World War I.

Attack on Antwerp
Attack on Antwerp
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Attack on Antwerp

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Belgian infantry and artillery defend Antwerp against the besieging German army in an early battle of World War I.

Fire Fighters in Hyde Park
Fire Fighters in Hyde Park
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Fire Fighters in Hyde Park

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Hyde Park

George V and Queen Mary swap flowers for medals at an annual Fire Brigade display in Hyde Park.

Fat Man on a Bicycle
Fat Man on a Bicycle
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Fat Man on a Bicycle

Comedy19142 mins Location: Teddington

A clumsy oversized cyclist causes chaos in this knockabout silent comedy.

From the Fighting Top of a Battleship in Action
From the Fighting Top of a Battleship in Action
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From the Fighting Top of a Battleship in Action

Non-Fiction19094 mins

Britannia rules the waves! Scenes of a battleship at gunnery practice, with fine shots of the guns firing.

Bisley Rifle Meeting
Bisley Rifle Meeting
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Bisley Rifle Meeting

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Bisley

Gun-toting Miss Wallace outshoots her fellow marksmen at the Imperial Rifle Meet at Bisley, Surrey.

Theatrical Garden Party in Regents Park
Theatrical Garden Party in Regents Park
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Theatrical Garden Party in Regents Park

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Regent's Park

Stage stars 'do their bit' at a charity fundraising fete.

Judges at Westminster
Judges at Westminster
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Judges at Westminster

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Westminster

Traditional pomp attends the reopening of the law courts, where bench and bar are on show

Catholic Procession at Earlsfield
Catholic Procession at Earlsfield
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Catholic Procession at Earlsfield

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Earlsfield

Children steal the show at a solemn South London procession.

Sir Edward Carson in Belfast
Sir Edward Carson in Belfast
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Sir Edward Carson in Belfast

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Belfast

Sir Edward Carson speeds through an inspection of members of the Ulster Volunteer Force before hot-footing it to London for urgent talks on the Home Rule crisis.

Winchelsea and Its Surroundings
Winchelsea and Its Surroundings
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Winchelsea and Its Surroundings

Travelogue191411 mins Location: Winchelsea

Legendary Punch cartoonist Harry Furniss leads a pictorial tour of the beautiful East Sussex town.

The British in Belgium
The British in Belgium
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The British in Belgium

School programme and Educational film193011 mins

In Flanders fields - this educational compilation of WWI footage tries to teach the most important lesson of all: never again

Trilby
Trilby
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Trilby

Drama19148 mins

A filmic record of Sir Herbert Tree’s legendary stage performance as Svengali.

The King's Visit to the Royal Agricultural Show, Shrewsbury
The King's Visit to the Royal Agricultural Show, Shrewsbury
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The King's Visit to the Royal Agricultural Show, Shrewsbury

Non-Fiction19147 mins Location: Shrewsbury

A sneak peek at the shires of Shrewsbury on display for the King’s visit to the county fair

The English Switzerland
The English Switzerland
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The English Switzerland

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Buxton

A winter paradise in the Peak District: beautifully-composed shots of snow-clad Buxton.

Princess Royal at Marylebone
Princess Royal at Marylebone
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Princess Royal at Marylebone

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Princess Louise gets a rowdy reception as she lays the foundation stone for the new Marylebone Town Hall

Orange Day
Orange Day
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Orange Day

Non-Fiction19141 mins

Ulster’s loyalists on the march, on the final 12th July of the World War One years.

Sleepless
Sleepless
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Sleepless

Animation & Artists Moving Image19145 mins

Cartoon drawings come to life to haunt the German Emperor in a witty piece of WWI propaganda.

Ritchie, The World's light-weight Boxing Champion, Training for His Fight with Freddy Welsh at Olympia.
Ritchie, The World's light-weight Boxing Champion, Training for His Fight with Freddy Welsh at Olympia.
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Ritchie, The World's light-weight Boxing Champion, Training for His Fight with Freddy Welsh at Olympia.

Non-Fiction19141 mins Location: Westminster

Soon to be ex-champion Willie Ritchie prepares for his title bout with Freddie Walsh.

The Little Match Girl
The Little Match Girl
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The Little Match Girl

Fairy tale19149 mins

Richly detailed evocation of Hans Christian Andersen's heart-breaking parable.