Travelators: Are You Ready?

A wooden travelator in New York, 1924

A couple of weeks ago the BBC article used some British Pathé footage in their article ‘Why Travelators Still Trundle On’

In the piece Jon Kelly wrote “They belong to an age of hovercraft and monorails, a Tomorrow’s World imagining of the 21st Century rooted firmly in the past. Even their name – travelator! – evokes the sci-fi innocence of a post-war world which had not yet learned to be cynical about the transformative power of technology.”

Well today we came across this fantastic short clip of a 1924 travelator in New York.

A far cry from Heathrow Terminal 5, it’s a wooden model that has four lanes: stationary, slow, medium and fast. The fast lane holds seating, described in the British Pathé canister notes as a “bizarre adult merry-go-round”

What was the name of that incredibly fast conveyor belt contestants had to run up on Gladiators? Weren’t they called travelators?

We think travelators are overdue for a major comeback. There are more clips of these remarkable moving sidewalks in the British Pathé film archive, but it’s 6pm and we’re off home to watch Time To Remember on BBC4, so you’ll just have rummage in the archive yourself!


Author: British Pathé

British Pathé holds the world's finest newsreel collection. We also represent the Reuters historical collection. All 220K films are viewable on our website.

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