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Pioneers of Personal Film

At the dawn of the cinema age, these trailblazing early adopters brought filmmaking technology into the home.

Home moviemaking is older than the first cinemas: we've been filming ourselves for well over a hundred years. The birth of the cinematograph in 1895 inspired a plethora of inventions pitched at the domestic market: Kinoras, Kammatographs, Pictorialographs, Birtacs and Biokams - all cameras designed for amateurs and enthusiasts to film and project in the home. This collection celebrates the earliest home movies preserved in Britain, and bears witness to the dawn of the amateur's long-standing fascination with family, travel and community. "The object in introducing this apparatus is to endeavour to popularize this extremely fascinating branch of photography.... [I have] always looked forward to the time when animated photography would be within the reach of every one" - filmmaker/inventor Birt Acres, on his Birtac camera, 1898.

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Local Scenes and Family Pictures
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Local Scenes and Family Pictures

Amateur film192714 minsSilent

Grandma and Grandad also join in the fun of this home movie - with beaches, swings & roundabouts and a medieval pageant led by Christopher Robin

Midsummer Madness - An Idiotic Idyll
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Midsummer Madness - An Idiotic Idyll

Amateur film19332 minsSilent

Four bright young things enact a midsummer's love tryst among the daisies in this short, well-crafted amateur fiction film.

Psyche's Wedding
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Psyche's Wedding

Non-Fiction192010 minsSilent Location: Devon

Bright young things thereto plight troth in a society wedding.

The Witch's Fiddle
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The Witch's Fiddle

Amateur film19247 minsSilent

Gotta dance! A bewitched violin gets everyone's feet tapping.

Marjorie Glasspool Films Her Family in Alton
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Marjorie Glasspool Films Her Family in Alton

Amateur film19308 minsSilent Location: Hampshire

Marjorie Glasspool's home movie captures a variety of events and occasions experienced by a Hampshire family

The Scarlet Woman
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The Scarlet Woman

Home movie192444 minsSilent Location: Hampstead Heath

Catholic fantasy starring Elsa Lanchester and Evelyn Waugh in an Andy Warhol fright wig.

Flying a Kite
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Flying a Kite

Home movie19031 minsSilent Location: Streatham

In the year the Wright Brothers made their first flight, an Edwardian family film themselves taking to the skies… sort of.

Mermaids at Play at Bognor (Passmore Family Film)
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Mermaids at Play at Bognor (Passmore Family Film)

Home movie19031 minsSilent Location: Bognor Regis

Breathtakingly adorable home movie of an Edwardian seaside holiday on Bognor Regis beach.

Children's Party, Playing with Ball
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Children's Party, Playing with Ball

Home movie19021 minsSilent

What would a party be without balloons? The delight of these Edwardian children resonates across the years.

Girls Looking at Film and Giggling
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Girls Looking at Film and Giggling

Home movie19021 minsSilent

One of the earliest amateur film portraits, and certainly one of the most charming.

Passmore Family Film No. 5
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Passmore Family Film No. 5

Home movie1902 minsSilent

Edwardian children play a quick game of oranges and lemons for the camera in this early home movie.

Playing on Beach (Passmore Family Film)
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Playing on Beach (Passmore Family Film)

Home movie19031 minsSilent Location: Bognor Regis

Utterly gorgeous Edwardian home movie of a family's day out with bucket and spade on Bognor Regis beach.

Joan's Birthday Party
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Joan's Birthday Party

Non-Fiction19293 minsSilent Location: Poole Harbour

It's party time in Bournemouth in the pioneering decade that set the standard for change

Joce and Gill at Home
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Joce and Gill at Home

Amateur film193628 minsSilent

Joseph Emberton's marvellous film captures the early years of daughters Jocelyn and Gill - with birthdays, Christmas and a trip to Blackpool

Early film making at Welsh camp
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Early film making at Welsh camp

Amateur film19297 minsSilent Location: Llanymawddwy

Men on holiday from work at a Staffordshire firm - and on leave from home – enjoy themselves camping at Penygeulan farm, Llanymawddwy.

1934 Spirits from the Vasty Deep
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1934 Spirits from the Vasty Deep

Amateur film193414 minsSilent Location: Aberystwyth

A new baby holidays with London-based lawyer Goronwy Moelwyn Hughes, his wife and sons, and Lloyd Georges David and Megan discuss a new deal.

Royal Silver Jubilee 1935 - Cardiff
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Royal Silver Jubilee 1935 - Cardiff

Home movie193515 minsSilent Location: Cardiff/Caerdydd

Yards of bunting have been put up in Cardiff to celebrate King George V’s 25 years on the throne and the Wade home in Park Place has its share.

They Forgot to Read the Directions
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They Forgot to Read the Directions

Home movie192420 minsSilent Location: Cherkley Court

The 20s elite let their guard down... Amateur antics from media baron Lord Beaverbrook and friends, including HG Wells and Rebecca West.

Crossing the Great Sagrada
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Crossing the Great Sagrada

Parody192410 minsSilent

A silent satire with hints of Monty Python.

Aberaeron - Alban Square
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Aberaeron - Alban Square

Home movie192913 minsSilent Location: Aberaeron

Aberaeron’s pharmacist, with ready access to film, takes a camera out with his family and records them in town, on the beach and by the river.

Pinner - 1926 - Osborne Personal Film
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Pinner - 1926 - Osborne Personal Film

Amateur film192613 minsSilent Location: Pinner

Evocative film capturing the suburb of Pinner succumbing to modernity, as we watch roads being constructed and the countryside retreating.

Harrow Events - C.1927 - Osborne Personal Film
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Harrow Events - C.1927 - Osborne Personal Film

Amateur film192711 minsSilent Location: Harrow

Watford, Harrow and Pinner let down their hair in a 1920s smorgasbord of funfairs, fire displays and Tudor pageantry.

Minehead - 1932 - Osborne Personal Film
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Minehead - 1932 - Osborne Personal Film

Amateur film193245 minsSilent Location: Minehead

A Somerset holiday with prolific amateur cinematographers the Tigg family

Tenby Races 1931
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Tenby Races 1931

Amateur film193116 minsSilent Location: Castell Gorfod

Highlights of the rural year: The Milkmaid of the Year event, the Prince of Wales at the Royal Welsh Show at Llanelli, horse racing at Tenby and a ploughing match at St Clears.

Seven O' Clock Regulars' Swimming Club Part 1 of 3
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Seven O' Clock Regulars' Swimming Club Part 1 of 3

Non-Fiction192911 minsSilent Location: Plymouth

Seven O'Clock Regular Swimmers' Club open the new season with a splash!

Barnstaple Fair in the 1920s
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Barnstaple Fair in the 1920s

Non-Fiction19265 minsSilent Location: Barnstaple

Join the crowds in Barnstaple for fairground attractions

Outing on the Thames
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Outing on the Thames

Amateur film19339 minsSilent Location: Henley-on-Thames

An interwar outing on the River Thames with a reminder of the Great Western Railway's influence in Birmingham.

Our Holidays 1932
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Our Holidays 1932

Amateur film193210 minsSilent Location: Walton-On-The-Naze

With the luxury of a beach hut as their base, the Mann family from Southend took any opportunity to head up the coast to spend many happy days at Walton-on-the-Naze

Memoirs of our Holiday at Aberystwyth August 1931
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Memoirs of our Holiday at Aberystwyth August 1931

Amateur film193110 minsSilent Location: Aberystwyth

Waterfalls, rocks and St. Catherine's Fort, Tenby, are just a few of the wonderful highlights in this short film that explores the west Wales area