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Family Fun on Stilts, Boxing day 1954

What was the most exciting gift for Christmas 1954? The answer ‘Stilts’ would possibly come from this family who were captured on 8mm film on Boxing Day 1954. They certainly seem to be having fun trying to walk in them.

This short film is part of a reel which unfortunately has some sequences where the exposure was not correctly set and so the images are very dark. There are a few other interesting few seconds, but the part featured in this post is the longest and most entertaining section.

I know the date the film was shot because the box has some quite clear handwritten notes which detail all the subject matter for the film with the dates they were taken. The film itself is shot on Kodak black & white Panchromatic. It could be that colour film was too expensive or that the photographer chose black & white because it was winter and black & white film was faster than colour.

As for the content of the film, I imagine the stilts were a Christmas gift for one of the children, and on Boxing day the adults decided that they would like to have a go on them as well. From the evidence in the film, it seems most of the adults were not very good on stilts!

As I watched the film, I was interested to see, just outside the back door what looked like a Barbeque on a stand. That seemed unlikely however, and after watching it a few times I realised that it is in fact a mangle – a way of drying clothes after they have been washed by squeezing them between two rollers1. After I realised what it was it brought back a memory for me of my mother using one when I was about 4 in the backyard at home, which would be about 8 years after this film was taken.

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If you see anything in the film which you recognise, or you think gives clues to the location or date, please let me know in the comments below. Also, please share this post with your friends if you think they may be able to help locate a scene in this film.

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A software developer by profession and an amateur photographer by hobby I've been interested in all things photographic since I was a teenager some 40 years ago. Many of my interests centre around vintage film photography and cinematography.

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