This film is part of Free

The King's Tour Round the Napier Motor Works

George V checks the new-fangled "aero engines" are up to scratch in a West London factory

1917 6 mins Silent


Two worlds collide when George V, in a black armband, chats to workers in a factory in Acton, West London. This fascinating early footage of Britain's aviation industry also offers a glimpse of female welders and Belgian workers. The excitement of the royal visit is palpable in the expressions of the factory hands, on which the camera lingers long after the King has passed them.

The scale of the operation here was evidently huge: the intertitles refer to the Napier Motor Works having its own fire brigade. Napier was at the heart of Acton's strong automobile industry, but its focus shifted to producing aircraft soon after the outbreak of WWI. Numerous company officials and military personnel are seen tailing the King on his tour through the factory.