London Line No. 373 - Britain on Film: Black Britain

Britain on Film: Black Britain

Dir: Various|UK|1901 - 1985|91 mins|12A

The third programme from Britain on Film on Tour explores the vital history of black Britain throughout the 20th century. 

Bringing together films spanning 1901 to 1985 and taken from many different regions of the UK, it offers incredibly rare, little-seen and valuable depictions of black British life on screen.

Watch miners in the collieries of Edwardian Lancashire and Yorkshire; and soldiers from across the Empire joining the services to fight for King and 'mother country' in World War I. See rare colour footage of multi-racial Cardiff in 1957, a Nigerian wedding in Cornwall in 1964, and touching interviews with black school leavers in 1965; witness growing racial tensions on a Liverpool housing estate and in New Cross, London; communities in search of their roots and partying on the streets of Notting Hill during Carnival.

Revealing new voices from across a century of vast and turbulent social change in the UK, Britain on Film: Black Britain is not just an important educative tool - offering audiences the chance to explore stories of migration, community and the struggle against inequality - but also an opportunity to celebrate vivid black British life and culture on screen. 


London Line No. 373 - Britain on Film: Black BritainFor the Wounded (1915) - Britain on Film: Black BritainFrom Trinidad to Serve the Empire (1916) - Britain on Film: Black BritainMiners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery (1901) - Britain on Film: Black BritainAfrican Student FamiliesBlack Police OfficersBlood Ah Go RunGrove CarnivalHello West IndiesJah PeopleLiverpool 8London Line 373Nigerian Wedding in CornwallNigerian Wedding in CornwallTo the Four Corners

Booking information

Available formats
DCP, Blu-ray and DVD
Released on 18 March 2017. Available for booking now
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Independent Cinema Office
Cinemas and theatres - 35% / £100 MG (plus DCP transport costs)
Community cinemas, film clubs, film societies – 35% / £50 MG
Community groups and membership organisations - £20

Films in the programme

Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery (1901) Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery (1901) & Hull Fair (1902)
These rare films from Yorkshire and Lancashire feature two of the earliest representations of black people on screen, remind us that black immigration into Britain did not begin with the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948.

For the Wounded (1915) For the Wounded (1915) & From Trinidad to Serve the Empire (1916)
During World War One, black men from Britain and across the Empire joined the armed services to fight for the King and "mother country". These are two of very few glimpses of black servicemen in early British newsreels.

Hello! West Indies (1943) Hello! West Indies (1943)
Cricketing legend Learie Constantine, the first black man to sit in the House of Lords, introduces this extract which highlights civilian jobs undertaken by West Indian workers in Britain during World War Two.

Mining Review 2nd Year No. 11 (1949) Mining Review 2nd Year No. 11 (1949)
American actor and singer Paul Robeson visits Woolmet Colliery near Edinburgh. Robeson had long been something of a hero to the British mining community, ever since he starred in the film The Proud Valley, and was a renowned left-wing political activist. In 1938 he was voted one of the top 10 most popular British film stars.

To the Four Corners To the Four Corners (1957)
This extract of rare colour footage of multiracial Cardiff is the obvious highlight of this travelogue of Britain's four nations. Look out for the newsstand promoting local rising star Shirley Bassey, who had only very recently enjoyed her first UK hit single.

Black Special Constable Black Special Constable (1964) & Black Police Officers (1966)
In these two television clips from the Midlands, Reg Harcourt investigates attitudes towards what was then a controversial issue: ethnicity within the police force.

Cold Railway Workers Cold Railway Workers (1964)
As temperatures plummeted during the Big Freeze of 1963, local TV reporter visits a group of railway workers in the Midlands to see how they’re coping. All the interviewees are West Indian, and the questions assume that they are unused to cold weather, which might explain some of the droll, monosyllabic responses.

Nigerian Wedding in Cornwall Nigerian Wedding in Cornwall (1964)
The congregation of Trevenson Church near Redruth in Cornwall turns out to celebrate the wedding of these two Nigerian students. Leaving the church in traditional British wedding attire, the happy couple change into national Nigerian dress for the reception party.

Coloured School Leavers (1965)Coloured School Leavers (1965)

Recent black school leavers talk about their career ambitions and how racism may prevent them achieving their goals in this extract from current affairs TV programme ‘This Week’.

London Line No. 373 (1971) London Line No. 373 (1971)
Weekly TV programme London Line follows Ghanaian student Barbara, currently in her second year at the London College of Fashion and Clothing Technology, who hopes to 'set the world of fashion alight'.

African Student Families (1975) African Student Families (1975)
A television report investigating the support available for African overseas students, this is also a moving depiction of the work of the Commonwealth Students Children's Society as they explain how their services operate and the different attitudes to fostering among British and African parents.

Liverpool 8 (1972) Liverpool 8 (1972)
This Week visits the Falkner housing estate in Liverpool to investigate recent incidents of racially-motivated violence and tension between communities. In this extract, local black and white youths relate encounters with one another, police discrimination and social deprivation.

Blood Ah Go Run (1982) Blood Ah Go Run (1982)
This prescient documentary by Menelik Shabazz was made in the aftermath of the New Cross Fire in January 1981, in which thirteen young black people were killed. The bungled police investigation outraged the black community and eventually led to a massive day of action and demonstration that is the subject of this short film.

The Jah People (1981) The Jah People (1981)
Central Television magazine programme Here and Now reports from the Rastafari community in Handsworth. This extract presents interviews with a range of passionate and dedicated members of the religion, revealing a community like many others in search of roots, self-discovery and a spiritual homeland.

Grove Carnival (1981) Grove Carnival (1981)
One of the world’s largest street festivals, the Notting Hill Carnival has been taking place annually since 1966. This kaleidoscopic record from the 1980 event invites audiences both into and above the busy streets, taking in the diversity of the crowd and echoing the event’s relaxed yet ecstatic rhythm.

Supported by

Britain on Film

BFI Unlocking

Esmee Fairbairn

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