This film is part of Free

Winning the V.C.

A Boer War skirmish… filmed in Blackburn

War 1900 1 mins Silent


This recreation of an imagined 'typical' scene from the contemporary Boer war was shot not in South Africa but somewhere in around Blackburn, by local filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon. The staging and filming of distant newsworthy events was a common practice in early film, with audience demand for 'news' of distant events insatiable. Attempts to feed these appetites could push the filmmakers (and their bulky cameras) to the limits.

This particular piece of footage shows just how far some filmmakers were willing to go to give audience what they wanted - including a very early example of post-production special effects. Two explosions on the hillside are created by scratching off part of the emulsion from the original negative. Mitchell and Kenyon were particularly associated by film historians with these kind of 're-enactment' films, until the mid-1990s discovery of hundreds of their local non-fiction films shot mainly around the north of England.