London’s Screen Archives enables Londoners see their past come alive on film. Managed by Film London, we are a unique network of historic film collections that cares for, collects and screens heritage film across the city. Together we preserve London’s rich film heritage from feature films to home movies, public information films, newsreels, and records of the capital’s many different industries.
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Mills Chimps, Olympia
Chimpanzees from one of London’s best-known circuses clown around for the Christmas audience at Kensington Olympia.
Amateur film 1954 8 mins Silent
From the collection of:
The Bertram Mills Circus held their annual show at Olympia since 1920 - the first was staged to win a bet – and was credited with reviving the circus as a form of entertainment in the UK. The Christmas show was held until the 1960s and this short reel comes from the mid-1950s. It demonstrates a very different attitude to animals, with the performing chimps dressed in clothes, riding bikes, climbing tightropes and pushing prams for the amusement of a large crowd.
Animals on Film
Documentary 1940 12 mins
Fun mixture of natural history and wartime public information.
Comedy 2004 4 mins
Sweet and funny short about a potty-mouthed dog who loves his owner
Non-Fiction 1959 3 mins
Six legged competitors take to the starting blocks as a Midlands pub brings the sport of beetle racing to the world.
News 1971 5 mins Location: St Keverne
Daisy the pet alligator living on the Lizard in Cornwall
Children's 1972 52 mins Director: David Eady
Fun-packed comedy for kids, in which a boy befriends a baby elephant – then teams up with his friends to stop it being sold
Amateur film 1967 14 mins Location: Thompson Common
Should you look hard enough, you’ll be amazed at the antics that creatures get up to, says Dorothy Maxey, amateur filmmaker and naturalist.
Amateur film 1932 2 mins Silent Location: Olympia
Travel back in time to the National Wireless & Radio Exhibition at Olympia London to view the technology of yesteryear.
Amateur film 1962 10 mins Silent Location: Olympia
Heads up, tails up, ears brushed? Furry frolics from London's Olympia, and a starring role for man's best friend.
Promotional 1935 4 mins Silent Location: Olympia
Elephants, acrobats, clowns and cowboys all feature in this highlights reel from the annual Bertram Mills Circus at Olympia.
Promotional 1955 15 mins Silent Location: Olympia
Bears, tigers and elephants perform for the crowds in this compelling colour footage from the Christmas circus at Olympia.
Promotional 1935 15 mins Silent Location: Olympia
Illuminated carriages, exotic acrobats and boxing clowns all feature in this extended film of highlights from the Bertram Mills Circus at Olympia.
Promotional 1959 5 mins Silent Location: Olympia
Swoon at the costumes, laugh at the clowns and wonder at the elephants as the cast of the Bertram Mills Circus enter the ring for another stellar performance.
Documentary 2021 13 mins
A poetic response to the experience of the Coronavirus pandemic, drawing on the collections of 12 UK film archives.
Promotional 2021 1 mins
The 65th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express.
1955 17 mins Location: Brighton
Kids face the closure of their Brighton playground but fight back to reclaim it, with a little help from the iconic Volks Railway
Children's 1954 59 mins Location: Goudhurst
Child actor Mandy Miller shines in this children's adventure set in the traditional hop picking season in Kent.
Drama 2020 4 mins
A driver tries some small talk to connect with his Uber passenger, but ends up raising bigger issues.
Performance 1979 36 mins Location: Liverpool
Black music and culture in the community
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