110 years ago, on 22 June 1897, Queen Victoria processed through London to mark sixty years of her reign. Numerous motion picture cameramen were positioned around the route, including Birt Acres, Robert Paul, R.J. Appleton, Dr J.H. Smith, Alexandre Promio (filming for Lumière), Henri Lavanchy-Clarke, Alfred Wrench and John Le Couteur. A number of these short film survives, mostly in the collection of the BFI National Archive. Ten years ago I put together a commemorative show which combined the surviving films with photographs from around the route and actors reading our eye-witness testimony from Mark Twain, Edward Burne-Jones, Molly Hughes, G.W. Steevens and others. Recently I revived the show, and this is just a bit of advance notice that it will be featuring at this year’s Canterbury Festival, on Friday 19 October, with Stephen Horne on the piano, Neil Brand (away from the piano for once) taking the male parts and Mo Heard the female parts, with me as narrator. Booking opens 13 August!
The image above shows a section of the crowd in the stands outside St Paul’s Cathedral, where the main ceremonies took place (the Queen being too infirm to scale the steps and go inside). In the centre of the photograph you can see the camera and tripod of Mr Hunt, one of Robert Paul’s team of cameramen. And you can see footage taken by Paul himself (positioned on the other side of the square, in this QuickTime video clip from the New Zealand Film Archive.