This film is part of Free

Wanderings in Peking

These wanderings of an amateur filmmaker take in city streets, markets and Chinese acrobats in lively 1930s Beijing.

Amateur film 1939 11 mins Silent


This captivating and richly detailed film of 1930s Beijing (then Peking) was shot by a British scholar studying in China. His wandering camera captures vivid snapshots of a lively city: trams jostling with camels and motorcars, a herd of sheep by the Qianmen gate, lantern shops outside the Forbidden City and vibrant street markets where vendors peddle hot snacks and acrobats perform for a jolly crowd.

The film was made by Sidney Howard Hansford, who went on to become Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology at the University of London and Fellow of the School of Oriental and African Studies. Hansford was deeply interested in the subjects he filmed, though his pictures are also touristic. It's fascinating to see his fellow European students enjoying a day at the races and relaxing at a country house, in among the Beijing street scenes.