Jan 2, 2011

England in the early 1900s.

I just came across some amazing visual records of how everyday life was in Britain at the beginning of the twentieth century. They have been released by the British Film Institute, and there are many other examples to watch on their Youtube Channel, although some digging is needed in order to find them as they have them mixed with other kinds of films. And they have a lot.

Some of them are commented and are a delight to watch and see how the cities, the people and the customs were in those times. The first one, although not having an audio commentary, depicts a number of scenes shot around central London, taking in locations such as Hyde Park Corner, Parliament Square and Charing Cross Station. We see crowds of people disembarking from a pleasure steamer at Victoria Embankment, pedestrians dodging horse-drawn carriages in Pall Mall, and heavy traffic trotting down the Strand.
There are plenty of famous landmarks to spot here, including Big Ben, the National Gallery and the Bank of England, and it is fascinating to see the similarities between the customs of "then" and "now" - the dense traffic (mainly horse-drawn, with the occasional motor car) is highly reminiscent of today's London rush hour, whilst advertising on public transport is clearly no new phenomenon - in one scene, an advert for Nestlé's Milk seems to be plastered on every other vehicle.

The second one does have a very enlightening audio commentary, and depicts a tram ride from Forster Square in Bradford in 1902:

This one is set in Wigan in August 1902:

And the last video, set in 1904 in the Victoria Pier, in Blackpool:

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