Image: King George V, Queen Mary and civic dignitaries on the balcony overlooking the Great Bath in Bath in 1917

Film footage of Bath and North East Somerset dating from 1914-1918 

It is rare to find film surviving from before the 1920s.  Most of the film produced during World War One was officially commissioned, and heavily censored by government agencies.  Twenty-two newsreel clips of Bath and North East Somerset dating from 1914-1918 have been located. Seventeen of these are available to view online and the links have been included in the titles on this page.  You can scroll through the full list or use the place and event search terms at the top of the list to explore this film collection.  We would love to discover more official or amateur film of the area dating from the First World War.  Please get in touch if you know of any clips we have missed.  All of the film clips listed here are Black & White and silent. (Image: King George V, Queen Mary and dignitaries on the balcony overlooking the Great Bath in Bath in November 1917, copyright Roman Baths Museum, Bath & North East Somerset Council)

Places in films:

Roman Baths - clip 1; clip 2; clip 6; clip 8; clip 13; clip 15; clip 18; clip 20; clip 21; clip 22

Bath War Hospital - clip 1clip 2clip 22

Sydney Gardens - clip 4; clip 5; clip 12

Bath Abbey - clip 8; clip 9; clip 10; clip 16; clip 19

Bath Spa Station - clip 3; clip 17

Chew Magna - clip 11

Events in films:

Royal Visit to Bath - clip 6clip 15clip 22

Opening of facilities at New Royal Baths - clip 7; clip 14clip 18

Wedding of Major Lloyd George - clip 9clip 10clip 16clip 19

Red Cross Fair clip 4clip 5clip 12

Independence Day - clip 8

Girl Guides celebration - clip 20

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1. Our Dominion Press Visit Roman Baths

Date: 1917/1918

Duration: 52 seconds

Source: British Pathé

In this film a group of men, presumably Dominion Press journalists, views the Great Bath at the Roman Baths.  In the second part of the clip the group visits recuperating Canadian and Australian soldiers, probably at Bath War Hospital.   

2. Dominion Press visit Roman Baths

Date: 1917/1918

Duration: 29 seconds

Source: British Pathé

In this film a group of men, presumably Dominion Press journalists, views the Great Bath.  In the second part of the clip the group visits recuperating Canadian and Australian soldiers, probably at Bath War Hospital. Please note this is a lower quality duplicate of clip 1 above.

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3. Duke of Connaught at Bath

Date: 18 August 1917

Duration: 57 seconds

Source: British Pathé

In this clip the Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria’s third son and Governor General of Canada, walks out of the booking hall at Bath Spa Station with the Mayor and other senior military officials. Later he inspects the troops and salutes during a march past (possibly in or near Bath). During the Duke’s later visits to the city he stayed in a hotel in Great Pulteney Street.  The building is now a block of apartments known as Connaught’s Buildings. (Clip 17 has similar footage).

4. Bath Red Cross Fair

Date: 14-16 June 1917

Duration: 57 seconds

Source: British Pathé

This clip shows footage from the three-day Red Cross Fair held in Bath in 1917.  Visitors to the Fair are shown enjoying the event in Sydney Gardens.  The Countess of Waldegrave opened the event and is shown amongst the dignitaries.  Speeches are given and children dance round a Maypole. (Clip 5 and clip 12 are from the same event).

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5. BATH RED CROSS FAIR: The Countess of Waldegrave performs the opening ceremony of a charming 3 days' function

Date: 14-16 June 1917

Duration: 15 seconds

Source: British Pathé

This clip duplicates a clip from the film listed above of a three-day Red Cross Fair held in Sydney Gardens, Bath in 1917.  Guest of honour, the Countess of Waldegrave, is shown amongst a parade of dignitaries flanked by nurses and other medical staff.  Countess Mary Waldegrave was awarded a DBE in 1918 for her work as Deputy President of the Somerset branch of the Red Cross Society. (Clip 4 and clip 12 are from the same event).

6. Bath's famous cure resort (King and Queen’s visit)

Date: 9 November 1917

Duration: 50 seconds

Source: British Pathé

This film shows the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bath on 9 November 1917.  They are pictured on the terrace overlooking the Great Bath at the Roman Baths with the Mayor of Bath and other dignitaries. (Clip 15 and clip 22 below have similar footage).

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7. Field Marshal Sir John French officially opens new swimming baths at Bath

Date: 28 February 1916

Duration: 1 minute 10 seconds

Source: British Pathé

This clip shows Field Marshal (Viscount) John French visiting Bath in 1916 for the official opening of the reconstructed Royal Baths. He is shown with the Mayor of Bath and as part of a civic procession.  Viscount French had been Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force at the start of the First World War and then became Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces, before serving as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1918. (Clip 14 and clip 18 have similar footage).

8. Bath Celebrates Independence Day

Date: July 4 1918?

Duration: 34 seconds

Source: British Pathé

This film shows American troops marching along Abbey Churchyard, Bath, in a parade to mark Independence Day on 4th July.  The servicemen are then shown shaking hands with the Mayor and Mayoress of Bath and standing around the edge of the Great Bath waving to the camera.

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9. Wedding of Richard Lloyd George at Bath Abbey

Date: 11 April 1917

Duration: 1 minute 19 seconds

Source: British Pathé

Richard Lloyd George, son of Prime Minister David Lloyd George, married 19-year old Roberta Ida Freeman McAlpine at Bath Abbey in April 1917. Large crowds are shown outside the Abbey to watch the arrival of the Prime Minister and the bridal party. The newlyweds leave the west door under a guard of honour before leaving in an open top car. (Clip 10clip 16 and clip 19 below have similar footage).

10. Wedding of Major R. Lloyd George

Date: 11 April 1917

Duration: 1 minute 1 second (different footage to clip 9 but poorer quality)

Source: British Pathé

Richard Lloyd George, son of Prime Minister David Lloyd George, married Roberta Ida Freeman McAlpine at Bath Abbey in April 1917. This clip shows wedding guests arriving at the front of the Abbey by car.  Large crowds are shown outside the Abbey’s west door. (Clip 9clip 16 and clip 19 have similar footage).

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11. The village roll of honour at Chew Magna

Date: 1916/1917

Duration: 32 seconds

Source: British Pathé

Young boys are seen reading the names on the Roll of Honour at Chew Magna, a community where every eligible man had signed up to fight. The names are painted on to boards outside a shop.  Above the lists of names is a sign reading ‘Not once, or twice, in our rough Island story, The path of Duty was the road to Glory.' 

12. Red Cross Fair (Original)

Date: 14-16 June 1917

Duration: 9 minutes 58 seconds

Source: British Film Institute - BFI National Archive

This film is not available to view online but a full description of the (locally made) newsreel can be found on the BFI website. To summarise: this newsreel shows the Red Cross Fair held in Sydney Gardens, Bath, in aid of local hospitals. Dignitaries including Countess Waldegrave, the Marquis of Bath and the Mayor of Bath C.H.Long process and make speeches.  An orchestra plays and an ambulance is presented by the Licensed Victuallers' Association. Entertainment is provided by Miss Lilias Webb's Ladies Choir, children from South Twerton School and dance pupils of Miss Charl and Miss Pow.  Various dances and songs are performed and a Punch and Judy show is enjoyed.  Nurses and soldiers are shown taking refreshments. (Clip 4 and clip 5 are footage from the same event).

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13. The Old Roman Bath

Date: 1916

Duration: not known

Source: British Film Institute - BFI National Archive

This film is not available to view online but a full description of this ‘War Office Topical Budget’ newsreel can be found on the BFI website. The film shows wounded soldiers in hospital uniform posing for the camera around the Great Bath. The accompanying titles read "2,000 years ago the Romans discovered the healing virtues of the hot mineral spring at Bath. Over 8,000 wounded soldiers suffering from Rheumatism, Sciatica, etc. have been restored to health". (Clip 21 below has similar footage).

14. Viscount French at Bath

Date: 28 February 1916

Duration: not known

Source: British Film Institute - BFI National Archive

This film is not available to view online but a full description of this ‘War Office Topical Budget’ newsreel can be found on the BFI website. The film shows Viscount French inspecting a guard of honour and entering the Guildhall accompanied by the Mayor and other civic dignitaries. It was taken during the Viscount’s visit to Bath to open new bathing facilities. The accompanying titles read "Field Marshal Viscount French being received in state by the Mayor and Corporation of Bath and opening new addition to the Royal Baths." (See clip 7 and clip 18 for similar footage).

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15. ‘Our Wonderful Wounded’ (Royal visit to Bath)

Date: 9 November 1917

Duration: 1 minute

Source: British Film Institute - BFI National Archive

This film is not available to view online but a full description of this ‘War Office Topical Budget’ newsreel can be found on the BFI website. The film shows King George V and Queen Mary greeting and speaking with convalescing soldiers in Bath.  The royal visitors and Mayor pass through the streets with large crowds looking on. The accompanying titles read "The King and the Queen were deeply impressed with the cheeriness and courage of the wounded they visited at Bath". (See clip 6 and clip 22 for similar footage).

16. The Prime Minister at Bath

Date: 11 April 1917

Duration: 1 minute

Source: British Film Institute - BFI National Archive

This film is not available to view online but a full description of this ‘War Office Topical Budget’ newsreel can be found on the BFI website. The film shows David Lloyd George arriving at Bath Abbey for the wedding of his son.  Large crowds have gathered to see the Prime Minister and the finely dressed guests.  The accompanying titles read "PRIME MINISTER AT BATH. Mr. Lloyd George attends the wedding of his son, walking from the Abbey to the Imperial Hotel." (See clip 9clip 10 and clip 19 for similar footage).

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17. Duke of Connaught inspects troops at Bath

Date: 18 August 1917

Duration: 50 seconds

Source: ITN Source – Gaumont Graphics Newsreels (Reuters)

This film shows the visit of the Duke of Connaught to Bath to inspect volunteer troops.  He emerges from Bath Spa Station with local dignitaries including the Mayor.  The Duke takes a salute and inspects lines of soldiers marching, including some with bicycles.  He meets officers and the clip closes with a view of wounded soldiers waving their caps towards the camera. (Clip 3 has similar footage).

18. Viscount French at Bath

Date: 28 February 1916

Duration: 52 seconds

Source: ITN Source – Gaumont Graphics Newsreels (Reuters)

This clip shows Field Marshal (Viscount) John French visiting Bath in 1916 to open the extended Royal Baths. Viscount French is shown with the Mayor of Bath and other dignitaries near the Guildhall. Wounded soldiers are shown around the edge of the Great Bath. Viscount French had been Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force at the start of the First World War and then became Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces, before serving as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1918. (Clip 7 and clip 14 have similar footage).

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19. Marriage of Major Richard Lloyd George

Date: 12 April 1917

Duration: 55 seconds

Source: ITN Source – Gaumont Graphics Newsreels (Reuters)

Richard Lloyd George, son of Prime Minister David Lloyd George, married Roberta Ida Freeman McAlpine at Bath Abbey in April 1917. David Lloyd George and the groom are shown arriving by car.  The arrival of the rest of the bridal party follows. The guard of honour and departing procession is shown, along with troops and large crowds gathered outside the Empire Hotel. (Clip 9clip 10 and clip 16 above have footage from the same event).

20. Princess Beatrice visits Girl Guides

Date: 2 March 1918

Duration: 42 seconds

Source: ITN Source – Gaumont Graphics Newsreels (Reuters)

Princess Beatrice, accompanied by guide leaders, inspects local girl guides outside the Pump Room in Bath. Guides are shown parading and cheering.  Princess Beatrice was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s youngest (and longest living) child.  The King of Spain, Felipe VI, is her great-great grandson.

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21. Topical Budget film showing recuperating soldiers round the Great Bath

Date: February 1916

Duration: 58 seconds of Bath at end of 3 minute: 30 second film

Source: Imperial War Museum

The official War Office produced and issued this film. After footage of a military football match and soldiers having a snow ball fight in London there is footage of recuperating soldiers standing around the Great Bath at the Roman Baths in Bath.  The title page for the film reads “THE OLD ROMAN BATH: 2,000 years ago the Romans discovered the healing virtues of the hot mineral spring at Bath. Over 8,000 wounded soldiers suffering from rheumatism, sciatica etc. have been restored to health”. (Clip 13 has similar footage).

22. Topical Budget film of King and Queen’s visit to Bath 

Date: 15 November 1917

Duration: 1 minute 3 seconds at start of longer film

Source: Imperial War Museum

King George V and Queen Mary visit wounded soldiers in Bath.  The King is seen speaking to soldiers outside Bath War Hospital in Combe Park.  Both royal visitors speak to wounded men gathered outside the Roman Baths, accompanied by the Mayor and civic dignitaries. (Clip 6 and clip 15 above have similar footage).

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