This film is part of Free
Jack's Game of Cricket on Board H.M.S. Gibraltar
Sailors strip off for a playground game with shovels for bats and coal for a ball
You heard it here first - Jack Tar is going to be the next big name in English cricket. Not test cricket, with its spotless whites and tea breaks, not even the modern short forms of the game. We'll never know whether this was a staged event for the camera, or a common pastime to while away the hours at sea, but these navy men just need a couple of shovels for bats, and a pile of coal for their sport. Howzat?
With long ocean journeys the only option for those travelling long-distance in the Victorian era, there was a lot of time to fill, so activities like this - whether organised or spontaneous - were common. 'Fun and games on deck' films like this one are common in early film, so there was clearly an audience for them - perhaps they offered filmgoers the chance to fantasise about voyages of their own to far-flung places.