This film is part of Free

Launch of the Filey Lifeboat

On the Yorkshire coast, a Victorian crew launch their lifeboat the old-fashioned way, with a horse-drawn slipway

Non-Fiction 1900 2 mins


Not the perilous rescue you might imagine, but a demonstration of how a lifeboat is launched on a mobile slipway drawn by six horses. Across six shots, a Victorian lifeboat crew from Filey, Yorkshire, show how they use horsepower to propel the vessel on to the water and bring it safely home. Three camera setups are taken on dry land, but two are filmed from a parallel boat, giving the audience a close view of the lifeboat and its passengers, and as well as the sense of being in the water.

This film was made by the Williamson Kinematograph Company. The Scottish-born pharmacist James Williamson moved to Hove, East Sussex in the 1880s. An interest in photography led him to begin making films in the late 1890s and his new firm shot several 'actuality films' around the country, before pioneering more complicated multi-shot, narrative movies. This film, with its chain of scenes creating a non-fiction narrative, is poised somewhere between the two styles.