BFI launches Britain on Film archive

Thousands of unseen videos dating back as far as 1902 offer a charming insight into life around Britain.

The British Film Institute has launched a new online collection of film clips from around the UK, offering a charming and rarely seen insight into the hidden histories and forgotten stories of everyday people and places.

Many of these films have never been seen and now can be searched for by specific locations through BFI Player’s new Film and TV Map of the UK, which also allows people to share films with their family and friends.

Gathered from the UK’s film and TV archives, the collection features clips from the length and breadth of the country, including such gems as a 1929 video of porters in Covent Garden porters performing near-impossible balancing feats with stacks of baskets, a 1927 clip of a Scottish Old Norse Viking festival  – a wonderfully bizarre folkloric ritual with locals dressed as Michelin Men, walruses, sheep and Vikings – and, from southern England, a film from 1951 of a Father Neptune ceremony on Brighton Beach featuring fun and frolics at Brighton Swimming Club, England’s oldest swimming club.

The oldest films – from 1902 – are a collection of 10 home videos called The Passmore Collection, which feature the Passmore family on holiday in Bognor Regis and The Isle of Wight, and at home in Streatham, London.

Michael Passmore, the filmmaker’s grandson, who still has his grandfather’s original camera, purchased in 1900, said: “The films capture the joys of family occasions and holidays so beautifully. I am delighted that they will be able to be shared with the rest of the country.”

View the full collection on the Britain on Film website.

Related articles

BRITAIN’s Top 10… film and TV locations
Wolf Hall filming locations
The history of Wimbledon Tennis
Celebrate the British countryside at Harewood House

Click here to subscribe!

Download BRITAIN Magazine to your mobile today

iOSAppStoreGoogle-PlayNo mobile device? Purchase directly on Zinio for your desktop!