Title ID 5253Collection ID728
Title[Uncle Mack’s Minstrel Seaside Show]
Date[ca. 1927?]
CollectionEnid Briggs pt2
Genre/TypeAmateurIndependent AmateurNon-fiction
KeywordsFancy dress Entertainment Beaches Performing Arts
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionEnid Briggs
CameraEnid Briggs
FormatBlack & White Silent
Duration10 min. 23 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A single performance by Uncle Mack's Minstrels, made up of various musical and dance acts in this silent film by Enid Briggs from the 1920s.


Men in "blackface" make up are filmed (without sound) on stage wearing striped Pierrot suits with white collars, white hats and shoes. A single performer sings, accompanied by piano, tapping his foot along to the music. A different player now sings, with several others seated on chairs at the back of the stage. Another moves forward to sing while the last performer plays the banjo from a chair stage left. He walks in time from one side to the other, and breaks into dance, tapping, shuffling and kicking his legs into the air. Two men in "blackface" make up, and black bowler hats and coats perform a clown act with a chair, joined by another performer in a long white gown. The audience seated in deck chairs is seen from behind, with the stage and performers playing banjos in the background. Three male performers in "blackface" and Victorian women's period costume sing accompanied by the piano. They dance and curtsey to the audience.


A still from [Uncle Macks Minstrel Seaside Show] (1927)

Contextual information

Uncle Mack’s Minstrels were an integral part of the Broadstairs summer entertainment in the early part of the twentieth century. In 1911 Uncle Mack’s Minstrels were voted the most popular troupe of the British Seaside resorts. Now considered unacceptable as a form of entertainment, black-faced entertainers were a popular act in the 1930s and were often seen at seaside resorts where the additional character of ‘Uncle’ befriended children and encouraged them to take part in singing and dancing competitions. It is thought that film-maker Enid Briggs was a friend of Uncle Mack’s (real name James Henry Summerson); he and his troupe appear in many of her local topical films. Enid Briggs’ films were edited together at a later date (by others), consequently these films now appear out of chronological order.

Uncle Mack features in a number of other Enid Briggs’ films such as Broadstairs Items 1927-1935 (1927 - 1935). Uncle Phil, a performer with Uncle Mack in the late 1930s, also appears in At the Sign of the Ram and Gate (1957).

Uncle Mack's Minstrels appear in Marion Grierson's films for the Travel and Industrial Development Association (TIDA). They are seen during a performance on stage at Broadstairs in Southern Seaside and the sound picture Beside the Seaside, in which Uncle Mack and another performer also tell each other jokes for the camera.

Related titles

Related resources

Journal Articles

“Uncle Mack, Sultan of the Sands (founder of minstrel troupe).” Bygone Kent 6.12 (December 1996): 735-738

A copy of this article about Uncle Mack and his minstrels is avaiable at the Kent History and Library Centre.