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Hyde Park Bicycling Scene (1896)

Many of the cyclists are women, and wearing skirts. Although women had been riding bicycles since the 1880s, it was only towards the end of the 1890s that they could do so comfortably ... See full summary »

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Many of the cyclists are women, and wearing skirts. Although women had been riding bicycles since the 1880s, it was only towards the end of the 1890s that they could do so comfortably without wearing trouser-like garments such as bloomers, as the design of early bicycles made riding in skirts impossible. This had been controversial for observers and cyclists alike, the former because they were convinced that women in 'male' outfits or even split skirts were immoral in some way, the latter because wearing such garments suggested a radical political outlook that they might not possess.The side of the road is lined with promenading onlookers, and the pace of the cyclists and pony-traps is gentle and leisurely, suggesting a Sunday outing of some kind.

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1896 (UK)  »

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Originally published on Screenonline under the title Cyclists and Pony-Traps and a date of 1900, it now seems more likely that it was shot in Hyde Park some four years before, making it one of R.W. Paul's earliest actuality firms. See more »

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Women on Bikes
13 November 2009 | by See all my reviews

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.

This film was shot in November 1896. It's a very short piece showing women cycling through Hyde Park. Women cyclists were apparently considering very daring back then, and were therefore often the subject of early filmmakers.


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