Bristol Celebrations 1935

Reviewed by John Lang, June 2006

The Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. This, the first film produced by the Bristol Film Society, was of course using the medium of the time - black and white film with no sound. Being a fine sunny day it was ideal for the celebrations but made for very contrasty pictures.

The opening shots are of the street decorations from the Victoria Rooms to the streets of the then shopping area taken before the big parade. Noticeably in the Centre, there were arguably more cycles than cars while pedestrians strolled nonchalantly across the roads.

Thousands of people gathered at the Centre to watch the procession heading to the Cathedral. Led by a policeman on a white horse and then a military band, there were groups representing many aspects of civilian life in Bristol including the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Councillors. There follows views of decorations in other areas of the City and street parties.
Then 'END' appears but after two or three seconds, the film restarts. On the Downs organisations such as Boy Scouts marched past a saluting base where the Lord Mayor took the salute.

Action switches to the Memorial Ground for sports and games for younger children followed by speed-boats in the docks and on the river. Then back to the Downs for group physical exercises and parades of men and equipment from the Army and Navy, possibly reservists.

The last scenes are illuminations of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and notable buildings in the City.

Bristol Celebrations 1935

Reviewed by WBJ Higgins, 1974

This record of scenes in Bristol during the Jubilee celebrations in honour of King George and Queen Mary's 25 years of reign was shot, according to the credits, by cameramen of the Bristol Amateur Cinematographers. When the film was shown at the IAC Fellowship meeting in May 1935 it was announced that it had been made by members of the Bristol Branch of the IAC Fellowship. It appears therefore that the Bristol Amateur Cinematographers and the IAC Branch were either one and the same thing or at least that they enjoyed a number of common members. The film, in two parts, is still in the Society film library and has been shown to the public on many occasions over the years. In 1968 the original 1935 film was placed in the archives of the British Film Institute for preservation as historic footage and the BFI helped the society purchase a copy of the film for future use.

The coronation of their Majesties took place on May 6th 1910, and on May 6th 1935 celebrations took place all over the Kingdom. In Bristol, a similar service to the one at Westminster Abbey was held at the Cathedral and was attended by all the civic dignitaries. It was preceded by a civic procession. During the week, events of all sorts were held: a youth rally on the Downs, speedboat racing on the Avon, a military display at which the Duke of Beaufort took the salute. All over the city street parties were held; and all this was filmed. It is now of great interest, particularly because so much of the Bristol shown in the film does not exist any longer. Within a few years changes were wrought under the weight of Nazi bombs and there have been radical changes since the war. In the film the Bridgehead had not yet been filled in at the Centre, Wine Street, now wholly changed, features prominently and we have a glimpse of the now almost legendary Dutch House in Bridge Street. There is an example of early Dufaycolor in a sequence devoted to a now much altered College Green.*

The second spool of Celebrations has, for some reason, been dismissed as much less interesting than spool one; and so it has been shown far less frequently. It is, however, of great interest to Bristolians. Much of it was shot on the Downs and is worth seeing if only from a fashion point of view.  Ken Pople wrote a commentary for the film in 1955.

For a Films From Bristol show in 1972, Part I was shown with a slightly amended commentary and a piano background played by Len Mitchelmore, a teacher friend of Joe Higgins, was transferred to the sound track, Ron Elson was responsible for the recording.**


* Not seen because our copy was made on black and white film stock.

** In 2013 a comprehensive search for this recording was made.  Nothing was found!