Colour on the Thames, 1935

This rare colour footage from the British Film Institute archive shows life on the River Thames in the 1930s. Its quite magical to drift along the river during a time when sail was giving way to steam.

Sail gives way to steam on the Thames

This rare, colour film of the Thames in the 1930s gives us a slow and moody glimpse of river life. Starting upstream, with children paddling along the banks and bystanders helping to haul steam barges, we pass under the bridges towards Tower Bridge amid the grime and smoke of the city. As we approach the Port of London and Docklands, two barges under sail drift across the screen although the majority of river traffic is now steam-powered, belching out great clouds of smoke. Tugs pull large vessels alongside and out to sea while steam barges tow their cargo butties.

BFI National Archive