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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. In 1994, 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.

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Tram Ride through Sunderland (1904)
Tram Ride through Sunderland (1904)
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Tram Ride through Sunderland (1904)

Non-Fiction19043 minsSilent Location: Sunderland

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

Burnley v Manchester United (1902)
Burnley v Manchester United (1902)
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Burnley v Manchester United (1902)

Non-Fiction19022 minsSilent Location: Burnley

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

Bootle May Day Demonstration and Crowning of the May Queen (1903)
Bootle May Day Demonstration and Crowning of the May Queen (1903)
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Bootle May Day Demonstration and Crowning of the May Queen (1903)

Non-Fiction190318 minsSilent Location: Bootle

May Day revellers brave a wet and windy day in Edwardian Merseyside.

Scenes at Chester on the River Dee (1901)
Scenes at Chester on the River Dee (1901)
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Scenes at Chester on the River Dee (1901)

Non-Fiction19018 minsSilent Location: Chester

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

Street Scenes in Halifax (1902)
Street Scenes in Halifax (1902)
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Street Scenes in Halifax (1902)

Non-Fiction190210 minsSilent Location: Halifax

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

Road to Restoration
Road to Restoration
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Road to Restoration

Documentary200521 mins

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

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Edwardians at Work
Edwardians at Work
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Edwardians at Work

Fun outside the factory gates: a long-lost world of working life captured by the lenses of Mitchell and Kenyon.

Edwardians at Leisure
Edwardians at Leisure
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Edwardians at Leisure

A nation unwinds - but keeps its hat firmly on.

On the Move
On the Move
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On the Move

Britain in the early 20th century was a society in a hurry - and transport was changing fast.

Street Life
Street Life
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Street Life

Pavements thronging, traffic pressed nose to bumper (or tail) - the Edwardian street buzzed with life.

The Old School Yard
The Old School Yard
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The Old School Yard

Little angels and little devils: Edwardian children line up for the camera.

The Great and the Good
The Great and the Good
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The Great and the Good

Royals, military heroes and sportsmen compete in the Edwardian fame game.

Edwardian Sports
Edwardian Sports
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Edwardian Sports

The birth of Match of the Day? Not exactly, but Mitchell and Kenyon were pioneers in filming sporting events.

Returning Heroes
Returning Heroes
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Returning Heroes

Britain's victorious troops return from a distant war to a rapturous welcome.

Sunday Best
Sunday Best
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Sunday Best

Church is the place to meet, see and be seen for these faithful Edwardians.

Fiction
Fiction
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Fiction

Historical re-enactions, comic sketches and a groundbreaking 'true crime' film...

Edwardian Enigmas
Edwardian Enigmas
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Edwardian Enigmas

Who, what, where? Calling amateur detectives - can you help us solve these mysteries?

Edwardian Football
Edwardian Football
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Edwardian Football

The beautiful game, Edwardian style, in some of the earliest ever film of League, international and amateur football