Friday, January 25, 2013

1903 movie of London street scenes


(Direct link to video) This vintage film records ordinary street traffic in central London in 1903. Pedestrians dodge horse carriages in Hyde Park Corner, Parliament Square and Charing Cross Station. A motorcycle zips past a lamppost at 3:38 and a horseless carriage appears at 3:50-3:60.

"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, while 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."


8 comments:

Will Kelly said...

That is so fascinating! Thank you for sharing this. It is so interesting to see how people moved about in those days, and also the prevalence of advertising comes as quite a surprise to me.

Also, as a side note, at about 3:42 in the video, you can see Arthur Denison and Bix jumping out of a double-decker carriage. But maybe my eyes are just playing tricks...

Dan Haycocks said...

Wow, just fascinating. Made me think how wonderful it would be to hear the sounds of London around that time. Had a root around and found this incredible archive of field recordings:
http://www.soundsurvey.org.uk/index.php/survey/radio_recordings/1930s/1514/
30 years later, but interesting nonetheless.
I think 'Tiny Tim the busker' is my favourite so far...

Johan Derycke said...

lot's more motorized vehicles in this view of San Fransisco in 1900 (according to the title of this 12min video)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IJfTa5SjDCY#!

A lot less advertisements as well.

It occured to me that everyone was wearing a hat in this film. Can you imagine this today?

Leif said...

Thanks so much, this was really fun to watch. Enjoy seeing the mix of odd and familiar shapes to the vehicles.

I've probably mentioned this before, but your blog is one of the handful of most interesting pages I visit often -- up there with the NY Times.

TJ Scott said...

You have the most fascinating blog! I'm a vintage photo junkie especially for that time period. These films are great. Thank you for making my Saturday morning.

Michael Oxley said...

I've always wondered why the English drive on the 'wrong' side of the road... it's because their carriage transports disembarked on the left!

Seriously, thanks for posting this footage, it shows the organized chaos city streets were back then and knowing that is good for illustrators. It helps us put a bit of unexpected realism into illustrations with subject matter of that time period.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

We went to the london Transport museum recently and it contains examples of all the horse drawn omnibuses. We also learned that there was a phenomenal amount of horses droppings on the roads. see http://bytesdaily.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/great-horse-manure-crisis-of-1894.html

I think this was the quotation we read in the Museum.
"London had 11,000 cabs and several thousand buses, each using 12 horses per day - more than 50,000 horses in public transport alone. Each horse produces 15-35 pounds of manure per day."

It doesn't look too safe being a pedestrian!

That said I recognised every place in the film. The one of Charing Cross is the bit where I cross the road to go to M&S Food before catching a tube home!

Joe Kulka said...

Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, wore a hat in 1903.