Film: 11683

London | 1900 | Silent | B/W

Synopsis:

Remarkable footage of men, women and children strolling, talking, trading, joking and performing before the camera in and around a East End London market, possibly Petticoat Lane (then known as Middlesex Street) in the predominantly, poor working class Jewish area of Whitechapel.

In the foreground, a woman dances round and round, while a row of three other young women dance behind; they are possibly sisters, all being identically dressed in pale skirts, darker shirts and knotted linen scarves, and each holds some half-eaten food; two boys in caps with small peaks are at the right edge of the picture, and behind the dancers can be seen older women wearing boaters and a moustached man in a cap smoking a pipe; the setting seems to be a park of some kind, perhaps on a Sunday or Bank Holiday, as an upward slope can be seen in the distance on which more figures are strolling, while a caravan is visible at top left; finally, all four young women dance together in a row, their arms around each other.

A scene in a market around a lamp-post which has on its thick base the letters 'B.W.' (perhaps 'Board of Works'), above a design of some kind (possibly a castle or building), and below that 'W.D.'; a woman in a headscarf sits with her back to the base, while on the left in the foreground stands a small boy in a cap, with an old woman behind him and a girl and a taller boy behind her; there appear to be clothes stalls in the background, with awnings above them; two boys, one rather tubby, both in caps, start to walk across from the right, the tubby boy raising a handkerchief to his lips and looking directly at the camera.

The woman sitting against the base of the lamp-post can now be seen to be selling some vegetables; the old woman is still standing to the left, but there are now two small boys in front of her, standing side-on to us, looking down at the seated woman, and a woman carrying a small girl behind; to the right of the post, a ragged-bearded man wearing a bowler hat stands smoking a clay pipe, while in front of him a boy in a cap and white overalls stares cheekily at the camera before looking down at the seated old woman.

A briefer clip of the same scene, with the old woman on the left now leaning against the post, a bag visible around her wrist; at the left edge of the picture, a small boy in a cap is looking across, with the tall boy seen earlier standing behind him; the woman seated against the base of the post is looking at the camera more now and is holding some vegetables in her left hand; the boy in the white overalls leans against the right-hand side of the post, while behind, at the right edge of the picture, stands an elderly man with a trimmed white beard (glimpsed side-on in the previous shot), wearing a winged collar and a railwayman's hat bearing the letters 'MBS' or 'MRS'.

Against a brick wall, a vegetable-seller wearing a headscarf stands before a raised tray of vegetables, with piles of vegetables below to the left, and serves a woman glimpsed at the left edge of the picture; just to her left, behind piles of vegetables, a grey-bearded man in a cap is seated, with a small boy to the left of him against the wall; at the right edge of the picture, a woman stands against the wall and looks ahead at the camera, before walking across leftwards; the tubby boy seen earlier appears mischievously from the left and stands beside the small boy, looking towards the camera.

A charismatic stall-holder, wearing a smart top hat and a kind of fur or woollen waistcoat, waves handkerchiefs or napkins, talking all the while and evidently entertaining the entirely male crowd (a sea of caps, bowlers and homburgs) behind, he has a very large nose; hands appear every now and then to purchase one of his handkerchiefs; to the left of the picture, in the foreground, part of the frame for a stall juts out, on which several caps hang.

A moustached man in a cap holds up two small bags containing something he has purchased, smiling at the camera before he looks away to the left; a woman stands to the right of him, first looking directly at the camera, then moving towards the right.

In the middle of the picture, a short woman lifts up what looks like a duck, moving it in such a way as to suggest flight, and laughing; the tubby boy appears in the foreground at the left of the picture, while another boy looks directly at the camera at the right edge; a boy of very Jewish appearance, in white overalls, stands to the right of the woman with the duck, laughing; behind the woman is a bowler-hatted man with a ragged beard, from which sticks out a cigarette; there is a dense crowd of people behind: a chubby woman in overalls is tapped teasingly by a boy further back in the crowd, causing her to turn round, annoyed; a small boy appears at the front of the picture, smiles at the camera and raises his arm.

A brief clip from beside a fish stall: the fishmonger in overalls and cap stands in the middle of the picture, leaning on the stall with his left hand; a hand is seen holding up a fish tail on the left; some scales are visible in the foreground; to the right of the stall, a moustached man in a cap holds a chunk of fish; a crowd in the background looks and points.

An old woman with a chain of flowers around her neck, and flowers and bulbs or vegetables in her hands, stands in the foreground looking ahead; to the right of the picture, a boy and a man in a rounded bowler hat each hold out and wave fish, moving towards the centre; a moustached policeman walks from left into the background, waving at a small boy brandishing a plank of wood on his way, before taking up a position at the back, looking ahead at the camera; the camera moves leftwards, bringing into view the now familiar tubby boy also waving a plank, and a woman wearing a straw boater passing across to the left; a shop window can be seen in the background, displaying posters saying 'House To Let' and 'Shops To Let'.

A crowd surrounds a woman who holds a baby in a shawl that has bobbles hanging from it; a bowler-hatted man walks into the foreground and stops to look directly at the camera, before proceeding left; the camera moves right a little to show a woman with a tray on her head and, in the background to the right, a man lifting up some fowl; on the wall behind there is a sign about 'Bill Stickers' and a poster on which the word 'Foresters' is visible at the top.

A fairly elderly woman stands in the foreground looking at the camera, with the corner of a tray of vegetables or fruit visible at bottom right; behind, to the left, a grey-bearded man in a panama hat, smoking a clay pipe, pulls another bearded man off-screen to the left, while a number of bystanders look on in amusement; the camera moves leftwards to show the man in the panama seizing fowl of some kind from the other man; the woman in the foreground turns round to watch, then gives an amused expression to the camera.

The camera follows rightwards a bearded man in a cap, who carries a small paper bag, and has a pair of trousers slung over his shoulder, glancing towards the camera as he walks; in the background is a wooden fence, on this side of wooden scaffolding, on which there are traces of peeling posters; on the left, a moustached man in a bowler hat is addressing a group of small children; in the middle is a cart of probably potatoes, with a number of bystanders around it, particularly women in broad, shallow boaters; a small boy in a cap appears in the foreground to the left and looks at the camera rather quizzically; an older boy wearing a cap and a white knotted scarf tucked into his jacket passes in front of the bearded man, moving leftwards and looking directly at the camera; as the bearded man moves off the right edge of the picture, a moustached man in a bowler hat and high, starched collar occupies the centre, looking directly at the camera before turning away; at the right edge of the picture, another bearded man in a cap can be seen standing behind a tray of potatoes.


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