Precious glimpses and surprising rediscoveries: snapshots of black Britain in the decades before the great postwar migrations.
There was a substantial black presence in Britain long before the Empire Windrush arrived from Jamaica in June 1948. Some of the earliest moving images of black Britons survive in the extraordinary Mitchell and Kenyon collection from the dawn of the 20th century. WWI newsreels offered occasional glimpses of black soldiers from Britain - or more likely the Empire. In WWII the contribution of black servicemen and women was more prominently acknowledged in newsreels and documentaries. Between the wars, black performers began to make a splash, from music hall entertainers Scott & Whaley to Britain's first black screen star, US-born actor, singer and activist Paul Robeson. Stars like these had an easier time than many, but still faced unthinking stereotypes and prejudice. But they forged a path for others to follow. The films in this selection span some five decades, serving as a vital record of a much longer history of black people and culture in Britain than is often remembered.
Non-Fiction19015 minsSilent Location: Liverpool
Huge crowds turn out in Edwardian Liverpool for the annual celebrations marking the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Pendlebury
A black miner makes an intriguing addition to an already captivating film of coal workers up from their pit.
The first West Indies Test cricket team visits England and loses all three matches.
Non-Fiction2 minsSilent Location: Salford
The legendary world heavyweight boxing champion, John Arthur 'Jack' Johnson, visits Manchester.
A lost chapter in black British film: extraordinary rushes from a documentary showcasing talented members of the black community.
Documentary19447 mins Location: Stanion
An extraordinary and unexpected snapshot of rural life in wartime in which a young black girl is crowned Queen of the May.
Abyssinian state ministers visit London during Prince Regent Haile Selassie's diplomatic tour of Europe.
Soldiers from the far reaches of the British Empire arrive in London to take part in the official commemoration of the end of war in Europe.
Industry sponsored film19499 mins
American actor and singer Paul Robeson visits an Edinburgh colliery, where he regales miners with a rendition of 'I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night'.
Instructional film/TV programme19112 minsSilent
Curious film in which several white people and a black man pull faces and examine each other's teeth.
Biopic19459 mins Location: Liverpool
The West Indian cricketing legend is filmed in his role as a welfare officer, working to help African and Caribbean factory workers in Merseyside.
Documentary19496 mins Location: London
An African entourage makes a spectacular appearance in postwar London.