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Picturesque Portsea Provides Perfect Pageant (c.1926)


This silent footage features a newsreel segment, filmed by Gordon Gidney, of bathers and holiday-makers on Portsea Beach in the 1920s. Intertitles are used throughout.

Curator’s notes

This clip of the popular beach and pier at Portsea in Victoria vividly captures the beach fashions and social customs of the 1920s. At the time this newsreel was made, Gordon Gidney lived in the nearby suburb of Mount Eliza, making Portsea a familiar place of recreation. This familiarity comes across in the footage. Gidney’s beautiful camerawork and steady pans balance focusing on individuals and capturing the overall atmosphere of the scene. Beach umbrellas, distinctive tents, inflatable toys, and swimwear can all be clearly seen.

According to his grandson, Gidney wanted to be a professional photographer, but remained an amateur for most of his life. He did work on a few professional productions, such as this newsreel. With a large family inheritance, Gidney was able to pursue his hobby by travelling the world, making travelogues and experimenting with his camera. During the Second World War, he filmed the Battle of Britain.

See also Snap Shots around ‘Madras’, in which Gidney uses the camera to take moving portraits of his family members at home in Mount Eliza.