The distant ancestors of today's TV news, 'topical' films captured news of their day - though typically that meant public events like parades, royal occasions or sporting fixtures rather than, say, politics.
It was a lucky filmmaker who managed to be on hand to capture real 'hard news', as in the disastrous launch of HMS Albion. The second Boer War, the biggest international story of the late-Victorian era, lured several cameramen to South Africa. Others responded to audience demand for moving pictures of such events by dramatising them for the camera.
Launch 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.
Arrival of Train-load of Visitors at Henley Station
Non-Fiction18991 minsSilent Location: Henley-on-Thames
Jolly boating weather as the hordes descend on Henley for the Regatta.
Blackburn Rovers V. West Bromwich 1898
Non-Fiction18981 minsSilent Location: Ewood Park, Blackburn
A little piece of football history from the people's game: possibly the earliest surviving game on film
Bumping Race (Cambridge May Races)
Non-Fiction19000 minsSilent Location: Cambridge
University teams navigate a bend on the river Cam in no ordinary rowing race.
Charity Costume Parade - Manchester or Salford, C.1900 -no.2
A light-hearted parade makes a wonderful charity appeal - and film
Dewsbury Fire Brigade C. 1900
Non-Fiction19002 minsSilent Location: Dewsbury
A particularly fine filmed demonstration of cutting-edge fire-fighting kit by the Dewsbury brigade
Football Final - Entry of Teams
Spurs prepare to clash with The Blades to decide the winner of the 1901 FA Cup - the earliest surviving final on film
Football Final - Play in Progress
The 1901 FA Cup final replay between Spurs and The Blades sees William 'Fatty' Foulkes’ ample backside in action
Launch of the Worthing Lifeboat Emerging from the Boathouse
Non-Fiction18981 minsSilent Location: Worthing
Lifeboat paraded through the streets of Worthing on way to demonstrate a launch
Savage South Africa - Savage Attack and Repulse
Members of a South African performance troupe arrive for an Earl's Court date
A Corner of Barnet Fair
Non-Fiction18962 minsSilent Location: Barnet
Two for the price of one! This reel of film was among a small haul of early films and fragments, by then around one hundred years old, discovered and then donated to the BFI in the 1990s. In this case, two items were joined together on the reel. The first is believed to be A Corner of Barnet Fair, one of the films made by pioneer Birt Acres.
Practising for the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race
The Cambridge crew practising for the University Boat Race.
AAA Championships at Fartown, Huddersfield (1901)
Non-Fiction19014 minsSilent Location: Fartown Ground, Huddersfield
The annual championship meeting of England's premier athletics association.
Bailey's Royal Buxton Punch and Judy Show in Halifax (1901)
Documentary19013 minsSilent Location: Halifax
Classic Victorian Punch and Judy show against a magnificent view of Halifax town.
Birmingham University Procession on Degree Day (1901)
Non-Fiction19019 minsSilent Location: Birmingham
Female graduates and gents sporting spectacular Edwardian whiskers take part in Birmingham’s first Degree Day ceremony.
Drill of the Kansas City Fire Department
Non-Fiction18991 minsSilent Location: Brighton
Incredible scenes at Crystal Palace highlight cutting edge firefighting 1900 style
E. H. Williams's Merrie Men: Double Dance and 'The School' sketch
Non-Fiction18992 minsSilent Location: Rhyl
Fun on Rhyl seafront as E. H. Williams and his troupe entertain crowds with much ducking and diving in this hectic act.
Fire Brigade Turn-out in the Country
Non-Fiction18991 minsSilent Location: Shere
Slightly leisurely fire turn out from the volunteer firemen at Shere, Surrey
Gosport: Camper and Nicholson Boatyard
Non-Fiction19004 minsSilent Location: Gosport
Double-take of a giant yacht launched from Gosport dockyards into a bustling sea
Leeds Lifeboat Procession and Sports at Roundhay Park (1902)
Non-Fiction190119 minsSilent Location: Leeds
Jolly japes and jumping in the lake - it's the water carnival in Leeds on Lifeboat Day.
Liverpool Church Parade and Inspection (1901)
Non-Fiction19014 minsSilent Location: Liverpool
Crowds gather to watch hundreds of Edwardian policemen marching through a Liverpool street.
Liverpool Street Scenes (1901)
Non-Fiction19014 minsSilent Location: Liverpool
Traffic and pedestrians - including an early motor car - in Edwardian Liverpool.
Liverpool v Small Heath (1901)
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Liverpool
Early league football, with the team who will become Birmingham City losing at Anfield in a relegation year.
Lord Durham at Sunderland (1901)
Non-Fiction19013 minsSilent Location: Sunderland
Durham Light Infantry veterans collect their medals for valour in the Boer War.
Magnificent Reproductions of the Great Yorkshire Show in Bradford (1901)
Non-Fiction190115 minsSilent Location: Bradford
Great fashions, hefty livestock, horse jumping and a few spectacular falls on display at an agricultural show.
Manchester and Salford's Harriers Procession (1901)
Non-Fiction19014 minsSilent Location: Manchester
A small boy impersonates military hero Lord Roberts, much to the delight of the crowds.
Manchester Band of Hope Procession (1901)
A temperance society decries the demon drink on the streets of Edwardian Manchester.
Manchester Catholic Orphanage Boys (1901)
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Manchester
Young orphans march through the streets of Edwardian Manchester with heads held high.
Manchester Spiritualists Procession (1901)
Non-Fiction19017 minsSilent Location: Manchester
Exponents of Britain's newest religion don their Sunday best for a parade through Edwardian Manchester.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade Turn Out
Non-Fiction18991 minsSilent Location: Westminster
"London's Burning, London's Burning"... A dynamic early film of horse-drawn fire engines 'turning out' at Southwark Bridge Road.
Morecambe Church Lads Parade at Drill (1901)
Non-Fiction19015 minsSilent Location: Morecambe
Larking about during Church Lads' Brigade drill and parade in Morecambe.
Newcastle United v Liverpool (1901)
Non-Fiction19017 minsSilent Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
An Edwardian football match at Newcastle's St James' Park ground.
Oddfellows Procession in St Helens (c.1901)
Non-Fiction19013 minsSilent Location: St Helens
Members of this Friendly Society stream past the camera.
Old Poulton Parish Church, Morecambe (c.1901)
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Morecambe
Worshippers stroll out of church after the Sunday service.
Parade of Widnes School Children (1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Widnes
A multitude of Lancashire schoolchildren is ushered past the camera.
Parade on West End Pier Morecambe (1901)
Documentary19014 minsSilent Location: Morecambe
Edwardian visitors promenade in front of the camera on sea-side pier.
Park V. Fernie at Musselburgh, 1898
Non-Fiction18981 minsSilent Location: Musselburgh
Fore! Clear the way for the earliest golf footage from the world's oldest course at Musselburgh.
Police Annual Inspection at Birchfields Park (1901)
Non-Fiction19019 minsSilent Location: Manchester
Edwardian Manchester bobbies are put through their paces.
North Sea Fisheries, North Shields (1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: North Shields
Girls gut herring on the quay at North Shields while a Showman tries to stir up trouble.
Public School in Annan (c.1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Annan
A continuous stream of children dash joyously past the camera in the Scottish town of Annan.
Salford v Batley (1901)
Non-Fiction19018 minsSilent Location: Salford
Batley go down to Lancashire rivals Salford in the very first season of the Northern Rugby League.
Race for the Muratti Cup at Manchester Wheelers' Annual Meet (1901)
Non-Fiction190115 minsSilent Location: Manchester
Exciting scenes of amateur cycling's 'Race of Champions' at Manchester's Fallowfield track.
Runcorn v St Helens (1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Runcorn
Runcorn, Lancashire Senior Competition winners in 1900 and third in 1901, face a fierce challenge from visiting St Helens.
Scholars Leaving St Andrew's Roman Catholic School, Dumfries
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Dumfries
A lively group of Scottish primary-school children plays up for the camera.
Schoolchildren at Dalbeattie Public School (c.1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Dalbeattie
Scottish primary schoolchildren parade for the camera in well-regimented groups.
Special Parade of St Matthews Pupils and Special March Past of St Joseph's Scholars (1905)
Non-Fiction19002 minsSilent Location: Blackburn
Rival displays of orderliness and frivolity in a parade of Lancashire schoolchildren.
St George's Day Procession in Liverpool (1901)
Non-Fiction19018 minsSilent Location: Liverpool
Remarkable scenes of St George's Day celebrations in early 20th century Merseyside.
St Helens v Swinton (1901)
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: St Helens
The crowds at Knowsley Road await a Rugby league match between the Saints and the Lions.
Procession of Children at Tyldesley Church School (1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Tyldesley
Waves of children fill the frame in an Edwardian school parade.
Turn Out of the Leeds Fire Brigade (1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Leeds
Scenes in Leeds city centre as Edwardian firemen roll through on drill.
Turn Out of the Newcastle Fire Brigade (1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Glistening brass and galloping horses thrill the crowds at a municipal Fire Brigade drill.
Turn Out of the Rochdale Fire Brigade (1901)
Non-Fiction19014 minsSilent Location: Rochdale
A fire drill for the benefit of residents of Edwardian Rochdale - and the camera.
Tynemouth Swimming Gala in the Haven, North Shields (1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Tynemouth
Edwardian crowds enjoy a fancy-dress swimming race.
Warrington v St. Helens (1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Warrington
Match action and scenes of an Edwardian rugby crowd at Warrington's Wilderspool stadium.
York Road Board School, Leeds (1901)
Non-Fiction19013 minsSilent Location: Leeds
A small battalion of Yorkshire schoolchildren lines up for a playground photograph.
Turn Out of the Winsford Fire Brigade (1901)
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Winsford
The streets of the Cheshire town are lined with spectators to see their fire brigade.
Football Match at Preston C.1900
Sport19002 minsSilent Location: Preston
Relentless pressure from the Lilywhites leads to some cracking action but no goal for the camera
Launch of H.M.S. Albion at Blackwall
Non-Fiction18981 minsSilent Location: Blackwall
Fine images of a mighty ship's launch - but missing a crucial bit of the story...
Turn Out of the Preston Fire Brigade (c.1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Preston
Locals line the streets for the fire brigade's procession through Edwardian Preston.