Robert Paul is a largely forgotten name today, but he was a major pioneer of British cinema, and was quick to grasp the commercial potential of cinema in ways that better known pioneers such as William Friese-Greene were not. He was more of a mechanic than a filmmaker making, with Birt Acres, his own camera on which to shoot films in 1895, and also Britain's first projector, the Animatograph, with which to screen them in 1896. Early in the 20th century he had a custom-made studio built in Muswell Hill.
The Switchback Railway was the forerunner of the roller coaster. Passengers sit in a small car which trundles up a swooping railway track then performs a 180' turn at its summit before swooping back down on a parallel track. As fairground rides go, it's pretty tame, but the well-dressed kids in this film seem to be enjoying it.
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