Edwardian Britain in Colour

Black-and-white films of the era are colourized to bring Edwardian Britain back to life to offer a fascinating window on a vanished world.

Episode 1

Edwardian Britain in Colour takes black-and-white films of the era and colourises the footage, to bring the period vividly back to life.  Many of the films from this time have been lost or destroyed, but some survive and offer a fascinating window on a vanished world.

We reveal how our Edwardian ancestors lived, worked and enjoyed the time off they could get. We see what they fought for and even what they were prepared to die for.

We show the great state occasion of Queen Victoria’s Funeral in 1901, with her successor Edward VII riding behind the coffin. Coronation celebrations include a fancy dress bicycle parade celebrating the new King, new era and pride in the British Empire.

Edwardian Britain was the richest, most powerful country in the world. We look at what this means for men, women and children hard at work in the mills and the mines of the North, and London’s docks and markets.

We see footage of Thames boatmen in what was then the biggest port in the world, and Covent Garden porters hard at work.  In the Edwardian era a million men worked in mining. We see footage of life in the Lancashire coalfields, and how women too were needed to pick coal. The cotton industry was a massive employer too. The colourised footage brings cotton workers - including women and children - back to life outside the factory gates.

After the austerity of the Victorian era, working people now had some access to leisure.  We see footage of days out, parades, fun parks and seaside holidays. With its illuminations, newly opened piers and Pleasure Beach, Blackpool towered above everywhere else, as a magnet for Edwardian holiday-makers. It was the first holiday resort in the world for working people.

Episode 2

We feature a film showing people celebrating the arrival of a new tram in Wigan. It captures the excitement which change meant in this era. Rare footage of a public swimming gala in Tynemouth shows how proud Edwardians were of their local communities.  Footage of a football match in Burnley captures this local pride and the beginnings of mass leisure.

Life in Edwardian Britain wasn't all fun and games. The Siege of Sydney Street, in East London in 1911, is the perhaps the first terrorist attack ever caught on film. Remarkably, a young Winston Churchill then Home Secretary can be seen controversially directing operations just yards away from the gunfire.

Conflict is in the air. At this time, workers of all kinds - dockers, miners, mill workers, teachers, tram drivers, shop workers - were taking to the streets to fight for better pay and conditions. We see vivid footage of hotel workers risking their livelihoods to demand more pay and a reduction on the 14-hour working day.

Women were also now taking on the old order and fighting for their place in the modern world. We see the shocking footage of Emily Wilding Davison colliding with the King's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.

The Edwardians demanded change, and change did come but in a way that few could foresee.  By 1914 war is looming. We see men from Lancaster signing up in their thousands, to fight for King and Country, as a whole generation would make the ultimate sacrifice.