Video of ‘Trip through British North Borneo in 1907′ by Charles Urban Trading Company

This video is one of the earliest films of British North Borneo ever recorded that shows how life was in the country.

The film was made by The Charles Urban Trading Company was formed in 1903 by the Anglo-American film producer Charles Urban. It specialised in travel, educational and scientific film.

An advertisement for A Trip through British North Borneo in The Era in January 1907 offered some insights into the production history of the film. It referred to this new series ‘by courtesy of the British North Borneo Company’ and reported that ‘this unique and beautiful subject contains the best photographic results of two expeditions organised and conducted by the Charles Urban Trading Co. Ltd.

The photographs and moving pictures ‘had been instrumental in helping the company to raise during the last few years over £500,000’ (The Times, 7 December 1904)

Here’s the summary and captions of the video:

Start to 1:22

Opening with a train journey, the film shows views from the train as it passes through a village and crosses a bridge.

1:23 to 2:18

The camera is next on a boat, showing rapids, the jungle, locals on a raft and members of the expedition fording the stream.

2:18 to 4:03

This is followed by scenes of the local industries. Locals quarry for manganese ore, gather rubber from a tree (watched by Europeans) and pick and sort tobacco leaves from the fields. Further scenes reveal locals at a trading post and performing for the camera.

4:04 to end

Next, Chinese convicts collect their food, before a sequence showing a European supervising two locals as they chop a sago palm tree. Once felled, the trunk is sawed off and buffaloes (ridden by locals) haul the logs off screen.

Now watch the video here:

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I love the history of North Borneo (Sabah) and strive to digitally any related information on this website. I'm also the author of and Follow me on Twitter @richardker.

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