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Surprise time-travel video takes you to London in 1927

October 20, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A striking new six-minute video is providing a remarkable insight into the development of London over the past 87 years.

During the 1920s, cinematographer Claude Friese-Greene travelled around Britain with his new colour film camera. (They had them way back then!) His trip ended in London, where he shot some of his most stunning images in 1927.

The footage was recently revived and restored by the British Film Institute (BFI) and shared across social media and video websites.

Last year, British cameraman Simon Smith attempted to capture every one of Friese-Greene’s shots, standing in his footsteps, and using modern equivalents of his camera and lenses. They are now shown side-by-side.

Petticoat Lane, London, 1927 (left) and 2013 (right)

“This has been a personal study, that has revealed how little London has changed,” Smith writes.

By looking at the left of the screen, you can see scenes taken in 1927, while on the right are scenes from exactly the same vantage point, taken in 2013. They are presented with Friese-Greene’s original captions to his silent film.

The Thames, Lords Cricket Ground, the Tower of London, Westminster Bridge, Whitehall, London Bridge, Marble Arch and other tourist highlights are shown.

In many ways, London looks better now. Cranes have been moved from Thames-side and much has been cleaned. Traffic lights have replaced policemen on “point duty” (directing traffic with hand signals) and new buildings like the Gherkin have sprung up.

Surprisingly, traffic looks just as heavy back in 1927 as now.

Changes in the city’s ethnic composition are apparent in a segment shot in Petticoat Lane – which also demonstrates the almost universal wearing of hats and caps by men in the 1920s.

It’s a fascinating study of a city’s development over 87 years. Many cities have done far worse!

Filmmakers in Australian cities such as Sydney, Melboune and Brisbane might look around for old footage and make their own versions.

You can watch ‘London in 1927 & 2013’ here.

Note, it may not work with Firefox browser. The soundtrack, by the way, is Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major.

Written by Peter Needham

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