Colour footage of London, 1920s

This film was made in 1927 by Claude Friese-Greene. It shows scenes of London Bridge, the Thames, the Tower of London, Greenwich Observatory, the London docks, Whitehall, the Cenotaph, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, Marble Arch, Petticoat Lane, the Oval, the Changing of the Guard, Rotten Row, and the Houses of Parliament.

The Cenotaph sequence from around 3:37 to 3:54 is very poignant. This was filmed only nine years after the end of the Great War. The women and looking at the wreaths would very likely be wives and mothers of the men killed, and the Second World War was, at that time, inconceivable.

The footage is part of London’s Screen Archives and the British Film Archive.

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47 comments to Colour footage of London, 1920s

  • Evan Skuthorpe

    What a fantastic movie film.

  • Niall

    Incredible! Makes you realise we’re all just passing through really…

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  • Nigel Walsh

    Lovely to see London as it once was…

  • kamira

    hi! find this through twitter! it´s awesome! congratulations for your work!

  • Original Sin

    Incredible to see how *little* has changed over almost 100 years.

  • Skeilak

    (6:52) The little peanut girl is so adorable. What a cute lil’ pumpkin. She’s so serious about keeping that little paper bag open. I’m sure they told, “Don’t look at the camera.”, but you’ll notice, when she takes the boy’s penny, she can’t help but look, and smile.

    (9:28) Mr. Friese-Greene left us a nice image to remember him by. Seems like he might have been a nice fellow.

  • Jim Diamond

    Interesting but the film was mostly of things which have not changed. A pity there were not local shopping streets full of people and ordinary houses (inside and out) of the time.

  • Steve Thomas

    Can you see that bloke answer is mobile phone ….. at 3.28
    Great footage.

  • Brian

    The cricket match shown appears to be one played between Australia and England between August 14 - 18, 1926.

  • D Maclean

    People were mostly slim then.

  • Kal

    Hi, found this via Phill Jupitus’ tweet; some great footage of London.

  • Pink Zoe Realm

    About 5 or 6 years ago David Dimbleby did a series of I think 6 programmes for BBC4 on this very thing, if you contact BBC or the British Film Library they will be able to tell you if it on DVD, it features scenes of Britains early Roads, first Petrol Garage, & how in Wales the Mining Towns/Villages looked, it starts in Cornwall & goes to John O Groats, sorry I cant give name of program & more details.

  • Lynn Jackson

    I was born at StThomas’ Hospital just across from the Houses of Parliament, as was my Father and my Daughter great views, lovely it is amazing how little really has changed except the level of traffic.

  • admin

    That’s right - it was The Lost World of Friese Greene, and this one was Dan Cruikshank rather than Mr Dimbleby. The London film was released more recently, which is a real treat. An even more comprehensive version is The Open Road from the BFI.

  • Super colour film from the 1920s and other resources « BuzzingEd Blog

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  • Jay

    So clean, no road markings, no road signs, just plain common sense.

  • John Ball

    I remember a lot of the sites as shown in the film.It brings back wonderful memories. But what has happened since those days.A war and the bombing of London and of course the traffic. Ive put the programme on my favourites so I can watch many times in the future.Good luck to all.regard.John in Thailand.

  • Scalerious

    This is awesome footage.

  • renoir renee

    Awesomeness to the max.

  • London 1927 « ecos blog

    [...] Colour film from the 1920s is exceptionally rare, and this is a very powerful example.” Mehr dazu … Kategorien:Uncategorized Schlagwörter:London Kommentare (0) Trackbacks (0) Einen [...]

  • Ken Bristow

    6th Feb. 2024.
    What’s surprising is just how many of the buildings seen are still there. Well over 90%! What has changed is the speed everyone travels at today. It all looks a far more civilised and serene setting. It was filmed at the peak of the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties, the Charleston Era. My mother lived nearby in Farringdon. She would have been 26 then. It’s just possible she was in the film! I keep looking out for her!

  • Philip King

    Really nice film. I’m not sure if the lack of changes over the last hundred years are a good or bad thing. Time will tell.

  • Helen Grieve

    I recorded “The Lost World of Friese-Greene” onto DVD when it was on - I’m so glad that even more footage has been found.

    The Cenotaph scene was very poignant, knowing that in a few short years so many more would be killed.

    I’d love to know, who was the only man in the Ashes crowd not wearing a hat! Naughty boy!

  • Thomas Dorn

    It is sad to know that all the people seen in this film have probably passed on…………..

  • Barbara Steward

    I just wish there were as few cars and people now and I love the ‘hat wearing’. Maybe we could bring that back again.

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  • Richard Gordon

    Well, well, just who has ruined the beautiful country that was….never the same again, modernity excepted.

  • 60s, Californian-esque, tartan dress!

    Absolutely brilliant. Nostalgia to the max.

  • Andrew S

    Although this video footage is brilliant, I’m a little sceptical…Was England really aware of Hollywoods existence in 1927?

  • Andrew S

    according to that ever reliable source of information, Wikipedia:
    “On January 22, 1947, the first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River, KTLA, began operating in Hollywood”

    Seems a little odd.

  • Cam

    save the sceptical energy. a few years after these were taken…hitler was busy making his own colourized films on the industrialization of germany. and yes…london was very aware of hollywood. look no further than the talented comedians of the time in the silent movies. some were british, charlie chaplan and harold lloyd, for instance, went to hollywood. the gish sisters were drawn to hollywood from canada. fattie arbukle was american but included him in this because he was such a great talent that was assassinated by hollyweird (my lil hommage).

  • cam

    oooopsss! remove harold lloyd from what i was saying. he was an american! i thought he had been bron in england. sorry.

  • London in einem Farbfilm des Jahres 1927 – Das Philoblog

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  • Paul Trickett

    Fantastic old film. Hard to believe that women were still one year away from full voting rights! I wonder how many of those young men in the street scenes were to sign up just 12 years later and go to war in Europe again.
    Well done for this.

  • Marista

    Beautiful stuff, even if the titles are horribly slow to leave the screen! Maybe people were illiterate or semi-literate then? And everyone was white back then! Well, we took care of that!

  • Ben Coleman

    Andrew S: TV came after movies, my friend. Hollywood has been the babylon of movie making since the likes of D.W Griffith put out blockbusters like The Birth of a Nation in 1914. Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars (Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers) were at their peak in the 1920s.
    Anyway, this footage is indeed spectacular, and makes this ex-pat pine for London.

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  • TidiousTed

    Beautiful footedge, Have just linked your movie to the top post on my blog. Great work Retronaut :-)

  • severus snape

    To Andrew S… um yes England was aware of Hollywood in 1927… have you not heard of silent films and Charlie Chaplin? The world was very aware of Hollywood during the Roaring 20s. Please don’t bring your negativity and skepticism here. This is a brilliant video.

  • Retro video and photos — Hail Britannia

    [...] machine powered by a database of video, photos, documents, recordings, and more. My favorites are the color film of London shot by cinematographer Claude Friese-Greene in 1927. There’s a brief shot of the women bending down to leave flowers at the Cenotaph in [...]

  • Ann

    Read 21 Aldgate set in the late 20′s early thirties.

  • John

    The Sentry at 1.22 is having a “fly” smoke if you look closely ;)

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