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Colourised Footage From 1901 Shows Victorians Fascinated By Camera

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Colourised Footage From 1901 Shows Victorians Fascinated By Camera

Amazing footage has surfaced of people gathering around a video camera in England more than 100 years ago.

The colourised clip, which is from 1901, shows several children, women and men point, stare and laugh at the camera, which is filming on a busy, cobbled street in the north west of England.

A few children can also be seen raising their caps to the camera, whilst others push each other right in front of its lenses.


It's no surprise the crowd are distracted by the camera. It was only in the 1890s that the first 'movie camera' was made readily available to the public, with handheld operated cameras only reaching British shores in 1909, some eight years after this footage was taken.

The clip, which was tweeted by @eliistender10, blew up on social media over the course of the weekend, amassing over 7,000 retweets, 41,000 likes and close to 1.8 million views.

It triggered some fascinating conversations in the Twitter comments too, with many users stunned by the number of women wearing shawls over their heads and the fact so many children were walking on their own.



"Interesting how so many young kids are out on the streets alone," one user tweeted. "Today's 10 year olds would be with parents, who would be watching their every move."

"As an author who writes novels set in this time period, I'm a bit in awe of this footage. Wow," another one said.

"It's almost as though they are looking into the future, directly at us," one user suggested. "I wonder if some of them felt us looking back."


The footage is part of a wider series of films made by the Mitchell and Kenyon film company about labourers in Victorian England.

Filmed sometime between 1900 and 1901, the full colourised footage shows workers, old and young, gathered outside northern factories as they head in and out of work.

Conditions in these facilities were not the greatest, as illustrated by the number of people on film whose faces and coats are covered in dirt.

Credit: Mitchell and Kenyon
Credit: Mitchell and Kenyon

In 1994, a significant amount of film negatives, such as the one this footage is from, were discovered and restored, meaning the Mitchell and Kenyon Collection is now the largest set of early non-fiction actuality films in the world.

Words: James Aldred

Topics: UK News, History

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