'The Navy's Mail', c 1916.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of sailors struggling with a large sack of mail, taken by an unknown photographer in about 1916. This photograph is from an album entitled 'Britain Prepared', prepared by Charles Urban (1867-1942) under the patronage of King George V and Queen Mary. When at sea large sacks of letters and other supplies had to be swung from the decks of one ship to another. This could prove a tricky and dangerous business in bad weather, but the British Navy recognised the importance to morale of getting regular post from home. The American Charles Urban was an influential figure in early British cinematography. He developed his own projection system, the Bioscope, in 1896. Moving to England in 1897 he began to make his own films, establishing a strong reputation for producing documentary, travel and news films. Together with George Albert Smith (1864-1959) Urban developed Kinemacolor in 1908. This was the first successful natural motion picture colour system, used in 1911 to make the