Title ID 3211Collection ID519
TitleBathing Beauties
CollectionStaley Family
Genre/TypeAmateurIndependent AmateurNon-fictionFamily Life
ThemeSeaside Case Study Brighton Fashion
KeywordsBeaches Children Domestic Gardens Family Fathers Food Play Clothing Fashion Beachwear Dresses Uniforms Hats Old Age
LocalBognor Regis
RegionalWest Sussex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionRalph Staley
CameraRalph Staley; Nellie Staley
ParticipantsPam Staley (daughter); Ralph Staley (father); Nellie Staley (mother); Elsie Wilmer (Ralph's 1st cousin); Dr Robert Staley (Ralph's brother)
Format16mm Black & White Silent
Duration4 min. 40 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


An edited home movie showing playful scenes of the Staley family at the beach in their home town of Bognor Regis and in their garden in the late 1920s. The film includes some camera effects using slow and reverse motion.


The film opens with Nellie Staley, Elsie Wilmer, Dr Robert Staley, Pam, and an older man on the beach at Bognor Regis. Pam, Elsie and her mother Nellie wear swimsuits and swimming caps (Nellie in flower/circle cap, Elsie in stripy cap); beach huts and people on deck chairs are visible in the background. Pam and her mother paddle and splash each other in the sea. Filmed in slow motion with intertitle, Dr Robert leapfrogs over Elsie's head as she is bent forward. Pam dances for the camera on the sand, plays leapfrog with her mother and paddles in a shallow pool. There is a close-up of parents, Ralph Staley and Nellie Staley talking on the beach, and further scenes of Ralph and Pam playing together- he throws her up in the air and catches her.

A brief, and rather unclear, shot of two women cooking is followed by scenes of a tea party in a garden, under the title “School Treat”. Friends and family sit around garden tables and chairs with cake stands and tea served on a silver tea service. The intertitle “The Head Teacher” introduces a close-up of a woman wearing a pince-nez style spectacles. The intertitle “Naughty Children” presents a scene in reverse-action, of a woman drinking from a glass giving the illusion of the glass filling up. The same effect is used for an older man eating cake, giving the illusion of him pulling the cake out of his mouth whole!. A group shot of Pam and several smartly dressed women, most in hats, is followed by a final scene of the women fussing over a doll in a toy pram (?) in the Staley family garden. They all stand talking.


A still from 'Bathing Beauties' (1929) - three bathers on a beachA still from 'Bathing Beauties' (1929) - a mother and daughter paddling

Contextual information

Fashion Notes: This film shows everyday clothing for different generations and is particularly rich in children's wear. It includes examples of holiday wear, bathing suits, school uniform, coats and hats. The film also reveals holiday wear and bathing suits for women and depicts a nursemaid in uniform.

Fashion keywords: bathing suits, aprons, dresses, headdresses, stockings, uniforms, hats

For further information see Screen Search Fashion online resource.

Related resources


Screen Search Fashion

This online resource provides a thematic guide for students interested in fashion and dress. The site offers pathways into aspects of fashion and dress as depicted in archive film from the inter-war period in the Screen Archive South East collections.