This film is part of Free

Beijing - Coal Hill Street Scenes and the Forbidden City

This delightful colour film features Beijing's Forbidden City, the Summer and Winter palaces as well as parks, processions, a drama school and a Chinese picnic.

Amateur film 1938 15 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


Many of Beijing's architectural treasures feature in this film. We start at Coal Hill and the artificial mound, Jingshan. Next we see various processions on Beijing's streets, where traffic consists of rickshaws, bicycles and the occasional motorcar. There are also extensive views of the Forbidden City, followed by the Summer and Winter Palaces before moving to a drama school where children practice martial arts and dance routines. The film ends with a Chinese picnic.

S. Howard Hansford was an archaeologist and jade expert based at London University. He published a number of authoritative books on the subject of jade, as well as contributing several academic papers and contributions to journals on Chinese decorative art. During the Second World War, Professor Hansford worked on code-breaking at Bletchley Park. The few visitors to the Forbidden City, as seen in this film, contrasts sharply with the experience today - when it's estimated that 7 million people will visit the Imperial Palace complex each year.