Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast




Belfast, Falls Road, Royal Victoria Hospital





06min 23sec





black and white


British Film Institute


British Film Institute

Rights Holder

British Film Institute, Crown copyright

It is illegal to download, copy, print or otherwise utilise in any other form this material, without written consent from the copyright holder.


Overview of the iconic medical institution. Features typical scenes at the hospital, as the viewer is shown the work of various departments.

From diagnosis to treatment, this curious film allows us to see the everyday life of the hospital and provides a glimpse into what was, at the time, the height of medical science. It is believed these are earliest moving images of the hospital and the film allows us to see just how radically scientific medicine has evolved in subsequent years.

This film was digitised as part of the BFI's Unlocking Film Heritage project.




The Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) has its origins in a number of successive institutions, beginning in 1797 with The Belfast Fever Hospital and General Dispensary. Completed in 1906, the current RVH on the city's Grosvenor Road is a landmark in building engineering which claims to be the first air-conditioned public building in the world. Despite the myriad changes that are apparent since this film was made, it is notable that the footage ends with an appeal by the Chairman of the Board of Management to reduce waiting lists.

Digitised as part of the BFI's Unlocking Film Heritage Project   

Shot List

0:00-0:04 Arched metal sign reading Royal Victoria Hospital. 0:04-0:13 Aerial photograph of Royal Victoria Hospital. 0:14-0:17 Steamships line dock at port of Belfast, seagulls fly around the ships. 0:17-0:21 Ship being built, lined with scaffolding. 0:21-0:25 Woman to one side of frame, works at machinery used for spinning. 0:25-0:27 Spining machinery, presumably bobbins winding thread. 0:27-0:30 Women in floral print dresses working at weaving machinery on a large factory floor, a man walks by them. 0:31-0:35 Farm with haystacks, hay being collected on horse drawn waggon in the distance. 0:36-0:39 Working class street lined with houses, washing hanging across end of street, 2 women and 3 children stand in street. 0:40-0:42 Residential district houses with front gardens, fences and hedges. 0:42-0:53 Belfast City Hall with trams crossing the frame, tops of cars visible. 0:53-0:57 Aerial photograph of Royal Victoria Hospital. 0:58-1:09 Presumably Grosvenor Road, lamp posts and tramlines along road, behind wall there are tall buildings, people walking on pavement. 1:10-1:11 Arched metal sign reading Royal Victoria Hospital. 1:12-1:19 Covered entrance to 1 storey outpatient building on street, people walk towards entrance and enter building, police walk by, taller buildings in background. 1:19-1:26 Men and women sit on crowded pew-style benches that fill large room. 1:28-1:31 Young men in white smocks stand at table littered with bowls and bottles, handling gauze and presumably mixing cast plaster, while patient looks on in background. 1:32-1:35 CU of injured hand being wiped clean. 1:36-1:39 CU of foot and lower leg as two hands take bandage of woman’s ankle. 1:40-1:48 Nurse with wide white head covering massages womans bare shoulders. 1:49-1:53 X-ray apparatus, pipes and lightbulbs in CU. 1:54-1:56 X-ray machine, long tubes connected to cylinder, hangs over patient in bed, taking image of neck. 1:57-2:03 Tilt up from male x-ray operator’s hands on machine with various dials, to man with x-ray machine on neck, behind lead lined partition. 2:03-2:15 John Tamms Safe opened by two hands revealing radium cylinders in case, hand pulls out cylinder. 2:16-2:20 CU of radium cylinder as tweezers old up radium needle. 2:21-2:31 Large dentistry ward shown, three patients sit in chairs as two male and one female presumably dentists or assistants in white lab coats inspect mouths. 2:32-2:40 Woman with bare back, wearing dark eye mask, receives artificial sunlight from large lamp. 2:41-2:51 Entrance to casualty department shown from street, people stand around door under awning, accident case being carried into building on stretcher. 2:52-2:59 Patient’s leg being examined by doctor in white coat in casualty room, two women presumably nurse and assistant are present, nurse hands doctor clipboard with document. 3:00-3:08 Leg on table is x-rayed by machine that pivots on pole. 3:09- 3:12 X-ray machine shown as hand turns various dials. 3:13-3:16 CU of x-ray image of compound fracture. 3:16-3:19 Hand reaches for telephone attached to wall below chart, nurse picks up telephone. 3:19-3:26 In the operation theater one surgeon washes hands and another is aided by nurse in put on white muslin head cover and mask. 3:26-3:30 Mirror on white tiled wall shows nurse tying muslin mask on surgeon. 3:30-3:39 CU hands carefully putting on rubber gloves. 3:40-3:48 Nurse uses clamps to pull surgical tools out of sterilizer and put on cloth covered table, with other instruments on it. 3:49-3:58 Operating room from above as unconscious male patient is brought in and moved from bed to operating table by many people in white smocks and masks. 3:58-4:00 Operating room from above as surgical tools are moved on table using clamps. 4:01-4:05 Return patient on operating table, breath mask is attached to his face. 4:05-4:21 Ward with many beds, doctor watches as nurses push patient on rolling gurney next to bed and lift on to bed, he is then covered with blanket and leg put in gantry. 4:22-4:34 CU of leg in gantry, long table with flower bouquets in background, nurse pushes man in wheelchair past, and other patients and nurses seen in background. 4:35-4:39 Main corridor is bright with many nurses walking towards camera then entering door of hallway. 4:39-4:45 Crowd of men and women visitors enter through main gates on visiting day. 4:46-4:49 Woman with young girl and other women enter doorway with Notice keep to footpath sign in background. 4:50-4:54 Nurse and man and woman walk out of hospital, onto pavement, sign for to eye, ear, throat and dental department, hangs in background. 4:55-4:56 Man shakes hand with nurse, both smile. 4:57-4:58 CU of nurse smiling and waving, fade to black. 5:02-6:24 Chairman of Board of Management narrates hospital treatments, elderly balding man in dark suit stands at desk with dramatic background shadows, camera moves closer to man as he points to camera appealing for funds. 6:24 Film ends.



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