This film is part of Free
Diving at Port Skillion, Isle of Man
Victorian athletes demonstrate their diving skills at the pool - until an interloper makes the wrong kind of splash
Open-air swimming pools were a Victorian innovation, and this one, built in Port Skillion in 1884, was one of the first. The pool was for men only, although it was said to attract a few female onlookers, and in this short film, men in skimpy Victorian bathing trunks demonstrate their prowess with a series of increasingly complex dives. It's quite an impressive show, until a cheeky chap drops in to join them, suited, booted and utterly clueless in the water.
The company that made this movie, Paul's Animatograph Works, made many similar 'actualities' at this time, before moving on to specialise in 'trick' films using early special effects. Director Robert W Paul was one of Britain's earliest filmmakers. He was a successful instrument-maker by trade and became the co-inventor of the country's first moving-picture camera in 1896. He built a studio in London's Muswell Hill in 1898 and continued to make films there until around 1910, when he turned his focus back to instruments and military technology.