The glamorous world of cinema and TV wouldn’t be the same without the impact of the Brighton School of film pioneers based in Brighton and Hove in the 1890s and early 1900s.

The Film and Media collections contain objects from 1896 to 1970. Many of these focus on the work of early innovative film-makers such as George Albert Smith and James Williamson. These men, along with other Brighton School pioneers, worked with the exciting new technology of the day to create some influential films which are still fascinating to watch today.

Kromscop, c1898
Kromscop, c1898

The collection records the history of image-making through the magic lantern, early photography, and other optical equipment which led to the development of the moving image. We hold an amazing 10,000 magic lantern slides, magic lanterns, stereoscopes and early still cameras and photographs.

The collection also includes film-making apparatus, such as moving image cameras and printers from as early as 1896 that were made in Brighton and Hove. These objects are supported by a large collection of photographs, journals, books and other ephemera pertaining to the Brighton School. The collection also charts the history of cinema in Brighton & Hove with objects such as seating, projectors, and ticket booths from local cinemas.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • Biunial magic lantern, 1850
  • Experimental cine camera of 42mm gauge by Alfred Darling & Sons Ltd, Brighton, 1896
  • The Biokam, the world’s first amateur film camera by Alfred Darling & Sons Ltd of Brighton, 1899
  • Special Effects cine camera for capturing reverse motion and close-up shots, by Alfred Darling & Sons of Brighton, 1900
  • Kinemacolor cine camera, the world’s first commercially viable colour cine film process developed by George Albert Smith of Hove and made by Moy & Bastie, 1910.
  • A collection of cartes de visite photographs by William Friese-Greene
  • Aerial camera used for military reconnaissance by the RAF, made by Williamson Kinematograph Co., 1917.