Long before it acquired its modern reputation as a hipster mecca, Hoxton, in Shoreditch, attracted a very different clientele, thanks to the presence of East London's most celebrated music hall, the Britannia. But in 1920 (if the date on this film's title card is to be believed) there was no less of a buzz to the place. The Britannia, badly damaged in a fire in 1900, had by then been taken over by the Gaumont chain and reused as a cinema.
In scenes that recall the films of Mitchell and Kenyon from earlier in the century, the streets teem with people, most of them transfixed by the presence of the camera. Despite the opening title, at least one source suggests that the footage was shot a decade earlier - and the absence of motorised transport makes it hard to be sure either way. All the same, it's an extraordinary picture of old East End energy. Also featured are the London Apprentice pub - still standing at 333 Old Street and now home to the bar and club 333 Mother - and the tower of St Leonards Church.