The Silver Jubilee 1935 saw Bristol bedecked in flags and hosting a military parade near the Cathedral.
The Silver Jubilee of King George V
Despite being third in line to the throne when he was born during Queen Victoria’s reign, on 6 May 1910 King George V became King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India.
25 years later, in 1935, the people of Bristol held magnificent Silver Jubilee celebrations.
Less than a year later, on 20 January 1936 King George V died. The next few months were turbulent as Edward accepted and then rejected the crown in favour of Wallace Simpson.
Bristol Celebrates The Silver Jubilee 1935
The opening scenes, showing flags draped across the streets of Bristol and decorations running along the buildings, are impressive. The park flowerbeds, and impressive street plant pots outside the Kings Cinema, are all stuffed with vibrant blooms.
It’s very charming to see the traffic and pedestrians going about their daily lives with this special backdrop.
The title card tells us that the Jubilee Carnival took place on the Downs. Unfortunately, the event isn’t included in this footage.
However, the film does show us the military parade, held outside Bristol Cathedral.
We see the military parade on a wet day, when pavements shone with puddles. The crowds are already waiting as the city’s dignitaries arrive to stand in their allocated places.
Charles Theodore Budgett, 1935 Mayor of Bristol
The Mayor is clearly identified in his robes and hat. Charles Theodore Budgett was a director at his family firm, the leading grocer H. H. & S. Budgett. I believe at one point he lived at 7 The Paragon, Clifton, and is probably the Charles T Budgett who died in Bristol in March 1947.
A man with the same name married in Barton Regis in Gloucestershire in December 1897. But there’s also another marriage of a Charles T Budgett to Ethel F Parr in December 1926, this time at Long Ashton in Somerset.
Budgetts began as a small shop in 1820, remained in the family for 140 years, sold Scribbans-Kemp in 1961 and disappeared in 1977.
Mixing together history, aerial footage, and dynamic illustrations, this 1930s short film was created to raise awareness about the importance and economic reach of the Bristol Docks.
This 1930s film from the Huntley Film Archives is both silent and in black and white. However, the images are quite clear, if a little darkened by the (necessary) watermark.
Starting at the port, which holds a wide range of ships, there’s a slow scan across the waters.
History Of The Bristol Docks
The title card tells us the Port of Bristol has a history of over 2,000 years.
“It was the terminal place for Phoenician traders, and later, the Navigators of Ancient Rome” adds the next title card.
“John Cabot sailed in 1497 with Bristol sailors, in the Matthew under Letters Patent from Henry VII. On June 24th of the same year he discovered and landed in America”.
In reality, North America was, of course, ‘discovered’ by the indigenous population about 15,000 years ago. And both the Vikings and Welsh may have ventured across the Atlantic hundreds of years before John Cabot. In 1492 Christopher Columbus landed in the West Indies, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, though not mainland America.
When the Venetian captain John Cabot dropped anchor at Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland, on June 24 in 1497, he and his English crew stayed on land long enough to pick up some fresh water. They also discovered the tools, nets and remains of a fire left by native people, who remained out of sight. He then headed back to present the new land to Henry VII who had commissioned the voyage, and received a £10 reward.
The next title card tells us “John Washington, ancestor of George, sailed from Bristol to America”.
The Economic Reach Of The 1930s Bristol Docks
“BUT…Bristol does not live in the past…her distributing and collecting area extends over a radius of more than 100 miles..with a population of over 12 millions, or one fourth of the population of Great Britain”, says the title card.
To back up this astonishing claim, we see a map plot the numerous counties focused on the city. It goes as far as Birmingham, with the two cities reached by railway, canal and road. London is then added, with the information card that Avonmouth to London is 120 miles or 2 hours.
A Plan Of Bristol’s Docks In The 1930s
A title card announcing “Plan showing the position of all the Docks within the Port” is followed by a rudimentary illustration of the shape of the docks. City Docks, Portishead Docks and then Avonmouth Docks are each plotted in turn.
“Bristol’s modern ocean docks at the mouth of the River Avon” appears over the image of a small plane. Next, we see the film recorded from the plane as it flies over the docks. Lots of ships can be seen.
“From Avonmouth seven miles up the River Avon are the Bristol City Docks”.
Now we see the small plane taking off. Next, footage from the plane shows a ship sailing down the river. The riverside is open countryside, but a couple of shots along there’s smoke, and traffic, and a lighthouse-type structure, before open waters.
Finally, we see the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The message on screen says
Pride in the Past
Provision for the Present
Preparation for the Future”
And then the film ends with a lovely shot of the river, a hillside of buildings and the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the background.
This footage from the Huntley Film Archives is actually of two different items.
In the first, it’s 1927 and 30 year old Princess Mary visits the new Dockland Club in Bristol. After that, we take a look at the new Portway road, one of the early roads designed with motor vehicles as its focus.
Princess Mary Visits Bristol’s New Dockland Club 1927
Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood (25 April 1897 – 28 March 1965) was the only daughter of Queen Mary and King George V, and the aunt of Queen Elizabeth II. Notably, in 1914 she backed a public fund, called the Princess Mary Gift Fund Box, which sent an embossed brass box containing tobacco and chocolates to men serving their country in the Great War.
Here in Bristol in 1927 she arrives in a black horse-drawn carriage, next to the Mayor, who wears the cloak and three-cornered hat of office.
In the next moment she’s holding a bouquet of flowers, presumably presented on her arrival. She and the Mayor stand at the centre of a well dressed group of people praying. Then they go inside.
Suddenly the royal visitor leads a procession of dignitaries through the small gap in a huge crowd of children. They all wear scout and brownies uniforms.
The Portway Wonder-Road
In the second item, there’s a few shots of the road in Bristol now known as the Portway. It’s near the famous suspension bridge.
The title cards read:
“The Road: a Bristol-Avonmouth Study….One of the most striking (but almost unnoticed) revolutions in Britain since the war has been the growth of new wonder-roads – …This great low-level road is one of the new traffic arteries which will make our country fit for modern wheels to turn in.”
We see a van and several cars travel down a very wide road. Today it’s known as the Portway, and is part of the A4. It runs under Brunel’s Suspension Bridge, and out from the docks to Avonmouth.
Then the camera looks over the water. A steam cargo tug boat is towing a pair of cargo hulls. A pedestrian watches from the road, and there’s a high hill of trees on the bank behind it.
“Hewn through rocky cliffs and in face of many problems few roads combine the charm of river and winding gorge as this Bristol and Avonmouth one does -” says the next title card.
Next shot is of an attractive house. It’s next to a small metal bridge crossing the river, with acres of lush bushy trees behind.
Suddenly the scene jumps to a large white ship proceeding along the river. Rocky cliff faces and greenery flank the valley. A man sits watching the passing boat.
The 1920s Portway From Above
Next the Portway road is seen from the heights of the bridge above. This makes moving vehicles look tiny as they drive along. The road splits into two, the main leg continuing around the cliff beside the river. Meanwhile, the other branch leads uphill and around the trees, emerging at the top of the hill in Clifton, in an area today known as the Downs.