This film is part of Free

Switchback Railway

Fairground visitors enjoy a bumpy ride.

Non-Fiction 1898 1 mins Silent


This dynamically composed actuality observes a popular Victorian fairground ride. The switchback railway was a primitive kind of rollercoaster, with cars that travelled up and down a short stretch of track. What's particularly interesting about this film is that it documents a Victorian fairground, the most likely venue where early films like this one would have been exhibited.

The filmmaker, RW Paul, arguably missed a trick by not placing the camera inside one of the moving cars to simulate the ride from the passenger's perspective, though he might have had trouble keeping the camera steady. Nonetheless, the film was clearly a success, so much so that Paul's rivals James Williamson and the Riley Brothers released their own switchback railway films only a few months later.