This film is part of Free

China II

Unique footage, shot by Quaker missionaries, of Yangtze River life and landscape.

Amateur film 1930 17 mins Silent


This remarkable footage was filmed during a mission to China by the Society of Friends (Quakers). One of four reels of 16mm film brought back to England, it’s mostly filmed from a riverboat, probably on the Yangtze. As often with amateur films, it makes for slightly haphazard viewing – which is rewarded with a wealth of fascinating, occasionally beautiful, imagery of people and scenery alike.

Highlights include a striking shot of a bow-hauling team on the riverbank, a motorcar being unloaded onto a barge, and fascinating scenes of local crafts and mealtimes. The film was deposited with the BFI by the Society of Friends in 1989 as part of the collection of John Cuthbert Wigham. He was an Irish-born Quaker, retired businessman and active member (later chairman) of the Friends Service Council which undertook trips to Syria, Palestine, India and Madagascar as well as China, with Wigham’s 16mm camera usually in tow.