This film is held by the BFI (ID: 19191).


Scenes in Jamaica, featuring shots from a train.

A title introduces 'Montego Bay. The Market Square and Main Street'. The camera shows horse and carts travelling in front of the camera, while locals stand by the roadside and walk by. The next title reveals 'A Logwood forest', as the camera pans across the forest and shows four locals chopping down wood. The film now shows scenes from a moving train, as a title reads 'Leaving Montego Bay'. After shots of the water, the train pulls away from Montego Bay station, watched by a small crowd. Further shots from the back of the train reveal locals (carrying goods on their head) and houses. The train passes through a station and continues its journey.

The next title introduces 'The Bogue Islands, where oysters grow on trees', as the film shows the landscape (and homes) from the travelling train. The journey continues through a further station and under a number of bridges, before a final title introduces 'Banana and Sugar Plantations'. The plantations are briefly seen from the moving train, before the film ends abruptly.



The Gleaner of 10 February 1913 contained a letter from Harold A. C. Sintzenich in which he explained that he was currently in Jamaica, with his colleague Chas. Weddup, ‘filming pictures by the Kinemacolor process (on behalf of the Natural Color Kinematograph Co. of London) of scenic and industrial subjects for production all over the world’ (Gleaner, 10 February 1913, 13). The Natural Color Kinematograph Company was formed in March 1909 by Charles Urban, but the completed pictures were released in monochrome through Kineto, another Urban company, which since its formation in 1907 had specialised in the production of travel, scientific and other broadly ‘educational’ films (McKernan, 2009, 122).

Sintzenich stated that he had just returned to Kingston ‘after a week’s photographing of the country on the sugar plantations’ (Gleaner, 10 February 1913, 13). This material seemingly featured not only in Montego Bay to Williamsfield, Jamaica but also in Sugar Industry of Jamaica, the first of Kineto’s West Indian films, which was released in Britain on 7 June. Over the summer, Kineto released further pictures from the trip. These included Port Royal and Newcastle, Jamaica (released 19 June), an ‘attractive and beautifully photographed subject, showing some of the principal spots in the island of Jamaica’ and emphasising ‘the historical interests of Britain’s largest possessions in the West Indies’ (Bioscope, 12 June 1913, xxxvii); Industries of Jamaica (released 14 July), which Bioscope described as ‘an excellent example of education without tears’ (Bioscope, 3 July 1913, 66); On the Rio Cobre, Jamaica (released 21 July), which contained familiar ethnographic sequences (‘a native scales the trunk of a coconut palm without any aid whatever and drops the fruit to the ground’) (Bioscope, 10 July 1913, vi); and The Islands of Trinidad and Barbados (released 11 September). Montego Bay to Williamsfield, Jamaica was released on 30 June and described by Bioscope as a ‘charming picture [which] affords a very complete idea of the scenic attractions of Jamaica’. The review noted that the film shows oysters in the trees on the Bogue islands as the ‘branches of the trees dip into the water’, and travels through ‘Hurricane country’, before finally showing a railway ride ‘of great beauty and interest’ (Bioscope, 19 June 1913, xxxiii).

Further footage was released in May 1914 in A Trip to the West Indies, and then in September 1916 in Native Life in West IndiesThe Gleaner published a report from the West India Committee circular from July 1916, which stated that Kineto ‘are just releasing a further series of films descriptive of West Indian life and scenery. They were taken – and admirably taken, too – by Mr C. Weddup on behalf of the company, and will no doubt prove a great attraction in these days when Englishmen have special reason to be interested in everything Colonial, and are tired of the unpatriotic “Charlie Chaplin”’. The report described the scenes as ‘quite the best we have ever seen’ and urged ‘cinegoers – as we believe patrons of the cinema are called – to ask for these West Indian films at their local halls’.

Kineto produced short films throughout the British Empire during the 1910s, culminating in the release, in 1917, of a ten-reel film entitled The Building of the British Empire. The film was praised as one of the most ‘instructive’ films for children, and the Canadian section of the film, which is held by the BFI National Archive, was re-released during 1918. 



As the title suggests, Montego Bay to Williamsfield, Jamaica charts a journey across Jamaica. With the camera, for the most part, placed at the back of a train, the film positions the viewer as a tourist, glimpsing the scenery (and people) of the island as they travel. In keeping with many colonial travelogues, the film promotes a rhetoric of progress and exploration through the train journey. In showing the train entering and leaving stations, it highlights the developed rail links across the island (Jamaica was the first rail link opened outside of Europe and North America and in 1845 was the second colony, after Canada, to have a railway system) (Satchell and Sampson, 2003). Through the journey, the camera offers glimpses of the European and ‘native’ populations, reveals local housing and, as the review noted, images of ‘hurricane country’. Only a few months earlier, in November 1912, a hurricane had killed over 100 people on the island, destroying banana crops, and some rail and road links.

This series of Kineto films also highlights the local industries – a stated aim of the filmmakers – once more defining the colonies on film in economic terms through their products. The camera pans to reveal four locals logging in a forest (a scene also featured in On the Rio Cobre, Jamaica) and concludes (abruptly) with footage of banana and sugar plantations. As well as displaying scenes of rural life, the film opens by presenting, from a fixed camera position, the daily activities in the market square and main street of Montego Bay. These scenes of Jamaican life, while intended primarily for British audiences, played throughout the Empire, for example in Australia and New Zealand. In noting a screening of Industries of Jamaica in November 1913, the Poverty Bay Herald in Gisborne, New Zealand stated that the film ‘served to give dwellers in the Dominion a better knowledge than they have hitherto possessed of this portion of the Empire’. These early West Indian travelogues thus served to promote a broader imperial identity, by bringing the Empire, and its scenes of development and progress, not only to British audiences but also to other dominions and colonies.

Tom Rice (October 2009)


Works Cited

‘Port Royal and Newcastle, Jamaica’, Bioscope, 12 June 1913, xxxvii.

‘Montego Bay to Williamsfield, Jamaica’, Bioscope, 19 June 1913, xxxiii.

‘Industries of Jamaica’, Bioscope, 3 July 1913, 65, xviii.

‘On The Rio Cobre, Jamaica’, Bioscope, 10 July 1913, vi.

‘Taking of Pictures Here’, The Gleaner, 10 February 1913, 13.

‘West Indian Films’, The Gleaner, 5 August 1916, 21.

McKernan, Luke, ‘”The Modern Elixir of Life”: Kinemacolor, Royalty and the Delhi Durbar’, Film History, Volume 21: 2 (2009), 122-136.

‘Pathe Pictures’, Poverty Bay Herald, 25 November 1913, 4.

Satchell, Veront M. and Cezley Sampson, ‘The Rise and Fall of Railways in Jamaica, 1845–1975’, The Journal of Transport History, March 2003. 




Technical Data

Running Time:
7 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
35mm Film
460 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Great Britain
Camera Operator
Camera Operator
WEDDUP, Charlie
Production Company