Leeds nostalgia: Patents of Louis Le Prince’s famous camera

Patent for Louis le Prince's camera.
Patent for Louis le Prince's camera.
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In the late 1880s the race was on to be the first to perfect and unveil a camera that could record the moving image. Among the runners and riders were ruthless American industrialist Thomas Edison and, in France, brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière.

There were several others on both sides of the Atlantic, all working separately and probably in isolation from one another. As time passed and the notion of cinema became the norm the United States claimed Edison as the father of the movies while France embraced and aggressively promoted the Lumières.

Yet the first moving pictures were actually recorded in England, not in London but in Leeds. Thus Yorkshire was the unlikely birthplace of the movies.

Yorkshire Film Archive, which is based at York St John University, worked with the BFI to make part of its 50,000-title archive available.

The local footage unveiled today includes some of the earliest films recorded in the region - including footage from the start of the 20th century, little over a decade after Louis Le Prince filmed the world’s first moving images in Leeds in 1888.

It was October 14, 1888. In the garden of a house in Roundhay, Leeds, and from a building overlooking Leeds Bridge Le Prince recorded the first motion pictures on paper film using a single-lens camera. These fleeting sequences - known as Roundhay Garden Scene and Traffic on Leeds Bridge - have been accurately dated to the autumn of that year, thus crediting Le Prince as the first to invent cinema.

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