London's Bridges on Film

A special selection of films capturing a century of life along the Thames and the iconic structures spanning it, to mark the launch of Illuminated River, a major new public art commission.

The tidal ebb and flow of the Thames and its bridges have been a draw for filmmakers since the earliest years of the moving image, when Victorian pioneer RW Paul set up his camera on Blackfriars Bridge. This specially curated collection marks the launch of The Illuminated River, an ambitious new public art commission conceived by internationally-acclaimed American artist Leo Villareal and award-winning British architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, delivered by the Illuminated River Foundation.

These films capture the daily interaction of Londoners at work and play, while showcasing the architecture of the bridges themselves and their role as vital links between both sides of the river.

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Colour on the ThamesColour on the Thames

193516 mins

A rare glimpse of 1930s London in colour: the Thames has never looked lovelier.

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Father ThamesFather Thames

Documentary193517 mins Location: Thames Head

Swans, boats and bridges are celebrated by lyrical commentary and fine images in this delightful tour of the Thames from “trivial” beginnings to torrential end.

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Thames River Scenery - Panorama of the Crowded RiverThames River Scenery - Panorama of the Crowded River

Non-Fiction18991 minsSilent Location: Henley-on-Thames

Don your straw boater and join Victorians at play as you potter down the river at Henley-on-Thames

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Thames En FêteThames En Fête

Non-Fiction19261 minsSilent Location: Kingston Upon Thames

A mermaid, a fat man in a barrel and water-bound jockeys all appear in this brilliant short showing Londoners taking part in the Molesey Regatta.

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Swan Upping StartsSwan Upping Starts

Non-Fiction19301 minsSilent Location: River Thames

A ceremonial swan census takes place on the river Thames.

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River Thames - YesterdayRiver Thames - Yesterday

Documentary19399 minsSilent

A nostalgic pre-war voyage down the mighty Thames, shot by Technicolor maestro Jack Cardiff.

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A Boat trip along the River ThamesA Boat trip along the River Thames

Amateur film19728 minsSilent Location: Hampton Court Park

Join Jim Greenyer on a cabin cruiser trip along the Hampton Court section of the River Thames - past islands, bridges, weirs and locks as well as a capsized canoeist

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Thames Valley Like a LakeThames Valley Like a Lake

Non-Fiction19251 minsSilent Location: Windsor

Welcome to Venice-on-Thames: some resourceful Berkshire locals defy the floods and take to the gondolier, while others 'walk the plank'.

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Floods in the Thames ValleyFloods in the Thames Valley

Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Windsor

Hauntingly beautiful images of flooded rural Surrey

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Blind OarsmenBlind Oarsmen

Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent Location: Putney

Putney plays host to rowing races between soldiers who lost their sight during the war and blind students from Worcester College.

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Anglers' Competition at RichmondAnglers' Competition at Richmond

Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent Location: Richmond

Gangway! A posse of 350 anglers charge through Richmond in a race to take up the best position before a fishing competition.

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'Gay Old Thames''Gay Old Thames'

Non-Fiction19211 minsSilent Location: Thames Ditton

Tea, giggles, boats and balloons in this wonderful footage from the Hampton Court and Dittons Regetta on the banks of the Thames.

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Railway Bridge across the ThamesRailway Bridge across the Thames

Documentary196830 mins Location: Victoria Sta

The Grosvenor Railway Bridge gets a 1960s upgrade while trains continue to thunder over it - an impressive engineering feat

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Women's Thames SwimWomen's Thames Swim

Non-Fiction19211 minsSilent Location: River Thames

Braving a mucky looking Thames, London’s finest women swimmers line up for a long-distance race between Kew and Putney.

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London's ContrastsLondon's Contrasts

192412 mins Location: Hyde Park

Part of Wonderful London, the BFI National Archive’s programme of restored London travelogues, filmed in the capital in the 1920s.

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Opening of the New Lambeth BridgeOpening of the New Lambeth Bridge

Non-Fiction19323 minsSilent Location: Lambeth

A newsreel record of the opening of the second Lambeth Bridge by King George V in July 1932.

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We Are the Lambeth BoysWe Are the Lambeth Boys

Documentary195949 mins Location: Kennington

Karel Reisz’s honest depiction of South London teens aimed to challenge the media perception of ‘Teddy Boys’.

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Lambeth LinksLambeth Links

Documentary196210 minsSilent Location: Lambeth

A colourful round up of the 1962 Lambeth Festival with fun for all, from a carnival parade to a beauty contest judged by radio’s Alan Freeman.

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South BankSouth Bank

Documentary196413 mins Location: Waterloo Sta

This fascinating 60s tour catches London's South Bank in the middle of a cultural metamorphosis.

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Drills at Southwark and New H.Q.Drills at Southwark and New H.Q.

Amateur film19367 minsSilent Location: Southwark

Ladders, fire engines and ropes are inspected, before we get a long look at the Fire Brigade’s new Lambeth HQ from the river.

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Central London Street ScenesCentral London Street Scenes

Travelogue192313 minsSilent Location: Westminster

These atmospheric scenes of the Thames and central London (including some spoiled by fog) were shot for the Sherlock Holmes feature The Sign of Four.

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Blackfriars BridgeBlackfriars Bridge

Non-Fiction18961 minsSilent Location: Blackfriars Br

Top-hatted pedestrians and horse-drawn traffic pass over Blackfriars Bridge in London

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South BankSouth Bank

19735 mins Location: National Theatre

Magnificent monument to the arts or architectural monstrosity? The jury's out on Britain's new National Theatre

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Sidewalk SurfingSidewalk Surfing

Cinemagazine19785 minsSilent Location: Lambeth

Skate City on the banks of the Thames

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London RiverLondon River

Travelogue19304 minsSilent Location: Tower Br

Follow the Thames from Westminster to Limehouse, Covent Garden to Tower Bridge.

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Another Day, A Symphony of London LifeAnother Day, A Symphony of London Life

Travelogue193920 mins Location: London

London portrait becomes a love story

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It Never Really HappenedIt Never Really Happened

Trick film19304 minsSilent Location: Southwark Br

Do our eyes deceive us? Trick shots galore in this magical tour of London.

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Rebuilding of London BridgeRebuilding of London Bridge

Amateur film196717 minsSilent Location: London Br

A simple yet multifaceted overview detailing the resurrection of one of London's most iconic architetural landmarks.

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The Story of Our Food SupplyThe Story of Our Food Supply

Public Information Filler192820 minsSilent Location: Bermondsey

The original foodie city: from bustling Bermondsey Wharves through Smithfield and Billingsgate to London's street markets and general stores.

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Central London TrafficCentral London Traffic

Government sponsored film195612 mins Location: Soho

Traffic chaos and parking pandemonium in London is nothing new - as we see from this colourful 1950s research film shot around the capital.

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London from the Air 2 (Fun Palace outtakes)London from the Air 2 (Fun Palace outtakes)

Amateur film19633 minsSilent Location: Westminster

Excellent if somewhat jerky aerial shots of London taken from a helicopter and featuring close-ups of Waterloo, the docks and Tower Bridge.

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Tower Bridge Boats on ThamesTower Bridge Boats on Thames

Interest film19052 minsSilent Location: Tower Br

Rare early glimpses of the Edwardian Thames at its busiest.

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Tower Bridge Road Market...Tower Bridge Road Market...

19315 minsSilent Location: Bermondsey

Scenes of thronging street life and market trading along Tower Bridge Road, Bermondsey Street and Southwark Park Road.

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Arctic LondonArctic London

Non-Fiction19291 minsSilent

During an unusually harsh winter, a frozen trawler arrives on the river Thames

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Thames Scenes Procession in East End Tower BridgeThames Scenes Procession in East End Tower Bridge

Amateur film19338 minsSilent Location: Tower Hamlets

Whistle stop tour of the Thames' iconic locations, followed by crowds, eels and strongmen in the East End.

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Tower Bridge (akaThames River Scenes)Tower Bridge (akaThames River Scenes)

Non-Fiction192413 minsSilent Location: London

The Thames was alive with vessels of all shapes and sizes, testimony to the success of London as a busy Port, handling cargo and passenger ferries from around the world.

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1949 Home Events - London1949 Home Events - London

Amateur film19493 minsSilent Location: London

An amazing film from 1949 that shows the colour returning to London's cheeks after six years of war - with Grenadier Guards, London Buses and the inevitable bombsites

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Shipping on the ThamesShipping on the Thames

Non-Fiction18981 minsSilent

Filmed by Rotherhithe, this film provides a glimpse into Victorian working life on the Thames.

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Launch of H.M.S. AlbionLaunch of H.M.S. Albion

Non-Fiction18982 minsSilent Location: Blackwall

The launch of H.M.S Albion, which was marred by the collapse of a gangway which resulted in many spectators drowning.

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Thames DivisionThames Division

Documentary195516 mins Location: Westminster

Discover the history of the Thames River Police with a rather different tour of London's iconic river.

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Royal BoroughRoyal Borough

Amateur film19518 minsSilent Location: Kingston Upon Thames

This polished tour of Kingston takes in sites of local interest such as churches, technical college, and the well-known dept store Bentalls

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196114 minsSilent Location: Greenwich

Boys’ canoe trip on the Thames in London

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Ten BridgesTen Bridges

Documentary195715 mins Location: London

A beautifully evocative three-mile glide along the Thames from bustling docks to bohemian Chelsea.

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The Open RoadThe Open Road

Travelogue200665 mins Location: Loch Lomond

Startling colour photography of 1920s Britain imbues Claude Friese-Greene’s 1920s road trip around Britain.

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The Port of LondonThe Port of London

Travelogue192425 minsSilent Location: London

From the pilots of the Pool of London to the headquarters of the Port of London Authority, let’s take a look.