Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Video: A Glimpse Back to the Edwardian Past, c. 1900

Friday, April 26, 2013

Isabella reporting,

This isn't a single video, but a series of short, silent clips pieced together. The description notes that it's also been "enhanced," with the focus sharpened and the speed made consistent. That said, it's a wonderful slice of Edwardian life, a medley of street scenes, factory-dominated landscapes, amusement parks, family scenes, dockside farewells, and holidays at the beach. The caption on YouTube says the clips were mostly shot in London, with some perhaps from Cork, Ireland as well.

Much like one of our earlier Friday videos from 1895, the people here may have been arranged before the camera, but no one is acting. Seeing how everyone walks, how their clothes move and how they carry themselves, the carriages and wagons and early motor cars - it's as close as we'll get to being able to look backwards in time more than a hundred years.

Several things stood out to me while watching this:
    1) Everyone dressed much more formally then, no matter what the occasion.
    2) Boys and men have always been willing to stick their faces in front of a camera.
    3) Wherever the people in the last scene are, it's an incredibly happy crowd. So many smiles!
    4) The women's hats are fantastic, and so are the men's moustaches.

What do you see?

13 comments:

Hels said...

We tend to think of crowded streets and traffic jams as modern phenomena. But not so. The Edwardian streets were chockablock full of horses, horse drawn carriages, bicycles, commercial vans, one car and above all, endless pedestrians.

Even the scenes not in the streets looked very crowded eg in front of the cinema or on board the ship. Nobody seemed to mind, though.

Genevieve Graham said...

What wonderful footage! Do you know how I might find something similar around 1917?

Kismet said...

Absolutely wonderful. I watched it twice. No one looked poor or ragged and dirty or overweight. Do you think it might have been staged?
So fascinating to see the streets, signs, the clothing, hats, the carriages. Thank you.

Lesley Hulonce said...

Lovely, lovely film, thanks for the opportunity of seeing it. Around this time film makers like Mitchell and Kenyon used to travel around Britain filming workers coming out of factories or in the streets and then advertise that they would be able to see themselves on the screen at the later performances. The screenings were very popular apparently.

Carol Dent said...

Absolutely fascinating! Did anyone catch the one-legged man at about 4.36? The clothes and hats are just wonderful - I love the boys' collars and caps.

Heather said...

Kismet,
Ah, times have changed haven't they?
I don't think this was staged. Personal pride in looking your best whenever you walk out the door has changed, unfortunately. No convenience stores to stop into on a whim,adding 1,000's of calories to your daily diet; no dreaded fuzzy pajama pants and comfy slippers to throw on and shlep into Wal-Mart... and as my grandfather would always say "Soap's cheap and water's free; there's no excuse to be dirty". And he was by no means a rich man. I won't go on...
It was a wonderful piece of footage to view- Thank you, ladies, I always look forward to your Friday posts.

Gloria said...

Things change, but not really. These are regular people going about their business. But no obesity, (only a couple of tummies), a uniformly neat crowd. A few men had a recognizable swagger. Loved it and thank you.

Heather said...

Yes- I did see the one legged man- very proficient with just a cane- quite amazing, and just seeing him, made me want to know, how did it happen? Was it a factory accident, farming mishap, Was he a veteran? Did anyone see the little boy,close to the end, running in the crowd, wearing what looked like a graduation cap and gown? He couldn't have been more than 8 years old.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Genevieve - I don't know of anything right off the top of my head. I found this through browsing on YouTube - a wonderful way to research/procrastinate!

Lesley, that's fascinating. I wonder if some of this footage was done for that purpose? It would certainly explain why people are so eager to engage with the camera.

Kismet, I don't think most of this was staged. The people (family?) standing on the steps certainly were, but most of the street scenes look like they just "happened." There are too many people hurrying about their own business for it to be otherwise.

And yes, the more you watch it, the more you see! I love how several of the gentlemen smooth their moustaches at the camera - was that preening? flirtatious? Or is that what is meant by "twirling your moustache"?

I also like seeing how briskly the women walk and move, despite all obviously wearing corsets. Today we tend to think of corsets as being horribly restricting, but these women all obviously regard them as part of their ordinary lives and no bother at all.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was wonderful. Such a find! It was really great to see how they dressed in for being seen in public in what looked like a variety of situations. As for the corsets, I read somewhere that they provided support. I'm sure being laced so tight wasn't good for their health, but even the maids wore looser corsets that provided back support. I'm sharing it on FB.

KWillow said...

I was struck at how the women really strode about! I always imagine them mincing along in their long skirts and tight corsets. Everyone seemed to take long, brisk strides, I didn't see much ambling along.

Chris Woodyard said...

Wonderful footage! I was struck by the large bill-boards on wheels in one of the earlier scenes--something new to me. And also loved the ladies striding along. Interesting to see how some of the older ladies kept to earlier styles of hats and not the wide-brimmed creations the younger ladies are wearing.

Ashlea said...

I noticed how few women there were, percentage wise. Preumably they were at home?

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