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British Film Firsts


England First in Film

*The very first motion picture camera patented in the WORLD.. was patented in England in 1888 (see below)
*The first film produced in England AND in the world was called Traffic Crossing Leeds Bridge in 1888.
*5 years before Edison's first film.*
The first feature film over 1 hour (4 reels) was the Hepworth production of
Oliver Twist in August 1912.
The first COLOR feature film over 1 hour was the World, the Flesh and the Devil in 1914

The first 'talkie' produced was Blackmail in 1929. The Terror was released earlier but wasn't produced in the UK.

The Mystery That Started It All

The very first motion picture camera patented in the WORLD.. was patented in England by French-born Louis Aime Augustin Le Prince in 1888.

The first films were made on a sensitised paper roll a little over 2 inches wide. In 1889, Prince was able to obtain celluloid roll film from Eastman when it was introduced in England.

Prince started commercial development of his motion picture camera in early 1890 with an updated version. He arranged for a demostration to M. Mobisson, the Secretary of the Paris Opera.

On September 16 1890, Prince boarded a train at Dijon bound for Paris with his motion picture camera and films. He never arrived in Paris. No trace of Prince OR his motion picture camera were EVER found. The mystery was never solved.

2 fragments of film is all that has survived from Prince and his camera. Both taken in 1888, one at 10 frames per second and one at 20 frames per second. For full biography, click here.

Other Firsts

The first presentation of film to the public was at 70 Oxford St. in London. The Continental Commerce Co. of New York opened a Kinetoscope parlour with 12 machines on October 18, 1894. This was individuals and not a public screening.

Birt Acres gave the first public screening at the London headquarters of the Royal Photographic Society at 14 Hanover Square on January 14, 1896. The films shown were films that he had taken himself.

The first public screening to a paying audience was on February 20, 1896 by Felicien Trewey. Felicien was a French magician that gave a 3 weeks at the Rengent Street Polytechnic. Trewey used the Lumiere Cinematographe and used Lumiere films in his program. Admission was 1s.

The first public screening to a paying audience outside of London was done by Birt Acres at Cardiff Town Hall on May 5, 1896.

The first feature film shown was the Australian film The Story of the Kelly Gang. The film was shown by the Colonial Picture Combine at the Assembly Rooms, Bath in January 1908.

Progress in early silent films was measured in the length of films released. Here's the records in silent films development;

It was customary for British film producers to shoot without a script or write their own. Britain's first hired scriptwriter was Harold Brett hired by British and Colonial Kinematograph Co. His first script was for A Soldier's Honour released in 1911.

The first western film in colour was a British film 'Fate' released in 1911. If was filmed in Kinemacolor by the Natural Colour Kinematograph Co.



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