TV Ads: British Pathé’s Forgotten Work

There’s an interesting film in the archive concerning the production of television commercials by Associated British-Pathé (as the company was known from 1933 to 1958). It is introduced by McDonald Hobley, better known for his work with the BBC, who takes the audience – in this case, prospective clients – on a tour of Pathé’s Wardour Street studio, the newsreel archive, and the history of the company. This presentation, entitled Introducing Ourselves, was intended to show advertisers the good work that Pathé could do on television commercials, a new media they had begun to exploit only eighteen months previously (circa 1954).

As Hobley’s presentation reveals, Pathé produced about two hundred commercials a year and some of them are included in the film as a showreel. Hobley tries to limit expectations of the selection, not terribly convincingly, by describing the choice as “random…Not necessarily the best that we have produced, but we have tried to limit our selection to those which offer the types of production which we feel will appeal to you – the advertisers – in this area.”

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Some of the ads are really quite entertaining and worth a watch, if you can stomach twenty-five minutes of what we’re now used to just fast-forwarding through. The showreel begins with Dunlop Tubeless Tyres, then moves on to: Max Factor’s Top Secret hair spray, Dunkies doughnuts, Guards Trousers, Amami Wave Set, Hiltone, Mum antiperspirant, Brylcreem, Disprin, Twinings Teas, Maxwell House coffee, Black & Decker tools, another Maxwell House ad, Burtons trousers, Hi Fi Lipstick from Max Factor, Mac Fisheries, Blackstone Opticians, Electrolux vacuum, Fred Fearnley Ltd.  Scooters and Motorcycles,  Scentinel Quiff air freshener, D.D.D., Dinneford’s, Setlers, Fray Bentos, an ad for bread, Bristow’s Hair Tonic, Tide detergent, Wm Younger’s Beer, another Fray Bentos commercial, Heinz, Brylcreem again, Peter Robinson, another for Dunlop, Huntley and Palmers, M & B BitterTide, and Esso Extra.

What’s somewhat odd is that there appears to be some additional later footage tacked onto the end of the presentation. This dates from the 1970s, and must have been added to the film when the archive was under EMI ownership. These are a trailer for Love Story, starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal and a “rather fab” Chrysler Sunbeam ad from 1978.

Introducing Ourselves is valuable for its enticing glimpse behind the scenes of Pathé in the 1950s, the way in which the newsreel archive has by then already been deemed of historical significance worthy of preservation, and for including the only – at least in our collection – examples of Pathé’s commercial work, often forgotten due to the organisation’s usual focus on cinema news and theatrical films.

Watch Hobley’s introduction and behind-the-scenes footage in Part One here.

Watch the various commercials in Part Two of the presentation here.

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www.britishpathe.com

Emily Davison Killed by King’s Horse at 1913 Derby

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Title card from 1913 Pathe Newsreel

On June 4 1913, suffragette Emily Wilding Davison made her way in to the history books of political protest  when she fell under the hooves of George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby. She sustained fatal injuries and she died 4 days later.

Davison had studied at Oxford University before becoming a teacher. She joined Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1906. The WSPU’s mission was to pull together people who felt strongly that radical and confrontational methods were required in order to achieve women’s suffrage. Their main aim was winning the vote for women. Davison left her teaching post in 1908 to devote all her time to the cause. In her 41 years, Davison had been force fed on 49 occasions and had been jailed 9 times, including one prison term for a violent attack on a man she mistook for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As such she gained a reputation for being a violent militant activist and was well known to the police.

 

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Emily Davison stands on track just before the king’s horse strikes her

The 1913 Derby

Despite camera technology being in its infancy, three newsreel cameras captured the tragedy from different angles. At the time, cameras were bulky and there was no such thing as a tracking camera, instead they were static and were limited in what they could cover. However, the Pathe News camera was placed to the right of Tattenham Corner and was waiting to capture the horses as they raced around the corner.  It happens in a flash but Davison can just be made out running on to the track. Some horses sweep by her but the king’s horse Anmer, who is third last, ploughs into Davison. The horse somersaults, catapulting its jockey Herbert Jones in to the air. Spectators flock on to the track to attend the injured. Jones suffered mild concussion and later he went on to say that he was “haunted by that poor woman’s face”. Some 30 years later, Jones was discovered to have committed suicide after his son found him in a gas-filled kitchen.

 

 

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Anmer and his jockey Herbert Jones somersault after colliding with Emily Davison

Was it suicide?

There has been much speculation about Davison’s intentions on that fateful day and many are divided as to her true motivation. The 1913 title card from the Pathe Newsreel reads “Suffragette Killed in Attempt to Pull Down the King’s Horse”. This was the general consensus at the time – that it was a deliberate act. Sylvia and Emmeline Pankhurst had no doubt that Davison deliberately killed herself out of downright passion for her cause whilst others saw her actions as reckless and anarchic. However, evidence suggests that Davison was not at the Derby to commit suicide but instead she was there to attach a flag to the horse’s bridle in order to bring attention to women’s suffrage. In fact police reports suggested that two flags were found on her body. Other evidence to support that martyrdom was not her intention includes her return train ticket back to London plus a ticket she had for a summer festival later on that day. Also a postcard she had written to her sister suggested that they were due to holiday together in the near future. Evidence which seems to clearly indicate that she intended to leave Epsom Downs that day. Historians have also suggested that Davison and other suffragettes were seen practising grabbing horses in a park near Davison’s mother’s house and they drew straws to decide who was going to be the one to go to Epsom.

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Emily Davison’s Funeral

The Funeral

Whether she deliberately sought after death or not, suffragettes embraced Davison as a martyr to her cause and used the funeral to highlight the WSPU movement. On 14 June 1913, Davison’s coffin was taken in procession through the streets of London to St George’s Church in Bloomsbury. 6000 women turned out for the service.  At the inquest in to her death, police reached the verdict of ‘misadventure’.

Emily Davison Throws herself under the King’s Horse – A Day that Shook the World

The Emancipation of Women

The Suffragette Movement

 

British Pathe: A Witness To Terrorism, 1919-1972

Terrorism is nothing new. As early as 1885 the first bomb exploded on the London Underground. Even before then, terrorist groups had made their respective marks – the People’s Retribution in Russia, the Jacobins in France, Guy Fawkes and his Gunpowder Plot, the Scarii Zealots of Judea. The list is endless, the victims countless, the motives diverse.

Though the British Pathé archive is limited to the years 1895-1979, there is an overwhelming collection of material related to terrorist attacks. This post, along with our new gallery, presents just a few examples from that period, using images taken from contemporary newsreel footage.

Click the stills to view the original film.

New York, USA (1919)

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Probably the earliest film in the archive concerning an act of terrorism, the footage from which this image is taken features just one of a series of bombings during 1919 carried out in many American cities by anarchists aiming to bring down the “tyrannical institutions” of the State.

It is not clear from British Pathé’s records exactly what this image shows, but it is possibly the ruined home of Judge Charles C. Nott, Jr. on 151 East 66 Street, which was a target of the terrorists. Although Nott was unhurt, one night watchman, who had seen a suspicious package left on Nott’s doorstep and had gone over to investigate, was killed when it went off in his hands.

As well as in New York, bombs were detonated in seven other cities and thirty-six letter bombs were posted, though many were intercepted before they could explode.

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New York, USA (1920)

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The same anarchists were allegedly behind this 1920 attack on Wall Street, the financial heart of the United States of America, though no group actually claimed responsibility and the perpetrators were never caught. In this case, explosives were hidden in a wagon which exploded at lunchtime on 16th September, killing 38 people along with the horse that was pulling the deadly vehicle. A further 143 were injured.

Footage shows the confused aftermath of the bombing, the police presence, and some of the bodies of the victims laid out on the pavement. Evidence of the blast can still be seen on some of the buildings today.

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Liverpool, UK (1920)

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Later that same year, England was also targeted, this time by Irish republicans, in the midst of the Irish War of Independence.

This image is taken from a newsreel announcing “Sinn Fein outrages” in which “agents” of the group set warehouses alight across Liverpool and the suburb of Bootle – 27 fires in all. Police officers were shot during the incident, along with a young passer-by named Daniel Ward. Five men were arrested.

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New York, USA (1927)

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On 6th August 1927, two bombs detonated in the New York City subway. This image reveals some of the damage done, along with workmen hurriedly repairing a station.

The attack was again the work of anarchists. It was carried out in retaliation for the trial of the Italian anarchists Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti who were executed later that month in Boston.

At least one person died in the bombing, with others wounded.

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Germany (1931)

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Political agitators blew up this train travelling from Berlin to Frankfurt in early August 1931. Newsreel footage shows the derailed carriages and the damage done to the tracks by the bomb blast.

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London, UK (1939)

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This image is from just one of many terrorist attacks in London during 1939 carried out by the Irish Republican Army, or IRA. Investigators comb through the rubble looking for evidence after an explosion at the Central Electricity Board building in Southwark. A pedestrian was killed.

Leicester Square and Tottenham Court tube stations, shops in Piccadilly, an aqueduct, and Hammersmith bridge were also subsequently targeted. All were documented by Pathé News and relevant films can be found in this collection. Not covered by British Pathé were additional incidents at various banks, King’s Cross and Victoria station. Seamus O’Donovan, who had drawn up the attack plans, later noted that the bombing campaign “brought nothing but harm to Ireland and the IRA.”

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Rehovot, Palestine (1947)

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Another railway bomb, this time in Palestine – one of numerous attacks by Jewish militants during 1947. The aims of the “Irgun”, the group responsible for the attacks, were to force the British to withdraw from Palestine (where they had been stationed since defeating the Ottoman Empire during the First World War) and to bring about the creation of an independent Jewish state. On 14th May 1948, David Ben-Gurion would declare the establishment of the state of Israel. Britain officially recognised the new nation on 28th April 1950.

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Simpang Tiga, Malaysia (1947)

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A devastated rubber factory caused by terrorist occupation in the small town of Simpang Tiga. Footage shows locals walking through the debris.Throughout the 1940s, Malaysia was troubled by violence as communist groups sought to expel the British from the Malayan peninsular.

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Jaffa, Palestine (1948)

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Another attack by the “Irgun”, this time in the town of Jaffa, on 4th January 1948. The headquarters of the Arab National Committee and several surrounding buildings were destroyed.

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New York Nabs the “Mad Bomber”, USA (1957)

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In this image, George Metesky stands smiling behind bars after his arrest by New York police. Metesky had been responsible for twenty-two explosions in the early 1940s and throughout the 1950s at public places in New York City, such as libraries and cinemas. He planted a further eleven which never went off. His motive was anger. After an industrial accident left him injured and without a job, he sought revenge on both the company he had worked for (Consolidated Edison) and the public at large.

Known as the “Mad Bomber”, Metesky was never tried for his crimes and was committed to a mental hospital. Eventually released in 1973, he died in 1994 at the age of 90.

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Algiers, Algeria (1962)

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On 20th April 1962, three plastic explosives were detonated in the capital of Algeria. Luckily, no one was killed. The attack was the work of Organisation de l’armée secrète (or OAS). This French terrorist organisation hoped to stop Algeria from becoming an independent nation, free from French colonial rule, which the Algerian National Movement had been fighting for since 1954. The OAS failed, and that same year the Algerian War came to an end with a new People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria entering the international arena.This silent, unedited and unused footage features devastated buildings and burnt out cars, probably in front of the Algiers Rectorate of the University.

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Zarka, Kingdom of Jordan (1971)

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This image is from the Dawson’s Field hijackings by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in September 1971. In the incident, five planes were hijacked and forced to Dawson’s Field, an airstrip in Zarka, Jordan. Amazingly, not one of the 310 hostages were killed. They were released in exchange for four PFLP members – three serving sentences in Switzerland and one in British custody.

The plane featured in this still is British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) Flight 775. It is taken from raw, unedited and silent footage in the British Pathé archive. In the film, Swissair and BOAC planes land in Beirut before being forced to take off again for Dawson’s Field by the hijackers while police and security officials watch helplessly nearby.

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Belfast, UK (1972)

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This telling still of a burning bus derives from a film in the British Pathé archive entitled “IRA Outrages In Northern Ireland”. Although there is no paperwork accompanying the film that can accurately date and identify the three seemingly separate events depicted in it, one of our Facebook followers provided some helpful information. This image specifically is probably from the Bloody Friday attack on the Ulsterbus depot on Oxford Street during the afternoon of 21st July 1972. A total of twenty-two explosions across Belfast caused carnage that day. Nine people were killed.

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After 1972

The British Pathé archive ends in 1979. However, the series A Day That Shook The World, co-produced with the BBC, covers important world events up to the year 2006. It therefore includes additional acts of terror not originally filmed by the Pathé cameramen. The relevant episodes can be viewed by clicking on the links below:

British SAS storm Iranian Embassy in London (1980)

IRA attack on British Government (1984)

Lockerbie Pan-Am jet explosion (1988)

Oklahoma terrorist attack (1995)

World Trade Center (2001)

Beslan School Siege (2004)

London bombings (2005)

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View the Twenty Acts of Terror Gallery on the British Pathé website. Additional films can be found by searching the archive database.

www.britishpathe.com

The Queen’s Speech

On May 8th, Queen Elizabeth II officially opened Parliament and read the speech prepared for her by the Government listing the bills that would be put to the Houses during the course of the next year. Much is being made of Prince Charles’ unusual attendance, a sign perhaps of his increased role as the Queen grows older. The full text of the Queen’s speech can be read on the Number 10 website here.

British Pathé has a great many films of previous state openings of Parliament. But particularly noteworthy are the clips outlined below. Click the links to take a look.

King Edward VII opens Parliament in 1901

Description: State coach bearing King Edward VII and escort pass camera on arrival at Houses of Parliament for State Opening of Parliament.

State coach and escort leave by the Victoria Tower and turn past camera.

Watch the film here.

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King George V Opens His First Parliament (1910)

Description: Intertitle reads: “King George V Opens His First Parliament. Scenes from Buckingham Palace along with route to the Houses of Parliament”.

London.

Scenes of the state coach carrying King George V with escort making its way along Mall through Horse Guards and arriving at Houses of Parliament for the State Opening of Parliament.

Watch the film here.

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King Edward VIII opens Parliament, 1936

Description: Various shots of crowds in the rain, men from the Yeoman of the Guard file in to search vaults in House of Lords. The royal car carrying King Edward VIII (later Duke of Windsor) drives through, he has chosen a closed car because of the bad weather. He is wearing Admiral’s uniform and waves at the crowds. M/S as his car enters the Palace of Westminster. 

M/S as he drives out again afterwards, crowds are still gathered to see him. M/S as his car enters the gates of Buckingham Palace.

Watch the film here.

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State Opening Of Parliament (1937)

Description: Royal coach leaving Buckingham Palace. Large crowds running towards the coach. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Mother) are see in coach. Various shots of the coach moving very slowly through packed London streets towards Parliament. Crowds cheering. Several shots of the Yeomen of the Guard preparing for the Royal Reception. Various shots of the coach returning to Buckingham Palace after opening of the Parliament. A car with Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret follows the coach on the way to the Palace.

Watch the film here.

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Queen Opens Parliament (1952)

Description: GV. Royal carriage leaving Buckingham Palace. SV. Pan, royal carriage leaving Buckingham Palace. SV. Royal Household escort leaving. GTV. of massed crowds at Horse Guards. GV.STV. Royal carriage driving through Horse Guards. LV. Royal carriage driving through Horse Guards. SV. Crowd as horses pass. SV. Pan Queen’s coach passing crowds. LV. Household Cavalry arriving on foot outside Parliament. LV.SV. Beefeaters arriving from coach. LV. Gentlemen at Arms arriving and assembling. SV. Lords arriving. SV. Yeomen of the Guard (Beefeaters) going into Palace of Westminster. SV.Back view, Yeoman of the Guard going into Parliament. LV. Crowd: and Guards present arms. SV. Pan Princess Margaret’s car arriving, also with her is the Princess Royal. LV. Escort Cavalry trotting past towards Parliament. SV. Pan, escort Cavalry trotting past towards Palace of Westminster. LV. Towards and pan, State Coach approaching Guard of Honour. LV. Escort passing Guard of Honour, Guards present. SV. People watching from balcony. LV. Towards and pan State coach passing Guard of Honour. SCU. Coach turning and driving into courtyard. Angle shot, Parliament. LV.SV. Household Cavalry lined up outside. SCU. Queen’s coach leaving Parliament. CU Royal Standard flying from Flag Pole. MS. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on balcony. GV. Crowds outside Palace.  LS. Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall and Princess Anne on balcony.

Watch the film here.

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State Opening Of Parliament (1969)

Description: Colour item.

M/S as the Irish State Coach leaves Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II waves from it. M/S as it drives along. M/S travelling past Guard of Honour. M/S state crown in carriage. M/S parade. M/S Queen and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, in carriage.  M/S escort riding along. M/S’s coach coming up Whitehall.   M/S as the coach arrives at Parliament and drives through gates.

Watch the film here.

There is also some very good silent footage of the interior from 1969.

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British Pathé’s complete collection of State Openings can be found here.

www.britishpathe.com

Imphal and Kohima

The British people have voted for their “greatest battle” in a poll conducted by the National Army Museum. The combined victories at Imphal and Kohima against the Japanese in the Second World War are now taken to be the “Greatest British Battle” in history, winning more than half of the votes cast. The runner up was D-Day, with 25 per cent of the vote. A full list of the contenders can be found here, in an article for The Daily Telegraph. For each of these engagements, the British Pathé archive has some relevant films that should be of interest.

Imphal and Kohima

“Invasion Scenes Far East” is a newsreel item showing British troops advancing towards Imphal in India. “Japs Trapped At Imphal” follows Indian infantry of 5th and 7th Indian divisions as they advance through the Hills of Manipur, past the bodies of dead Japanese soldiers, to trap the enemy.  Finally, “Driving Out The Japs” follows Lord Louis Mountbatten inspecting Indian soldiers and British men of the 14th Army at Imphal and Kohima. You can find all three films in this collection.

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D-Day

There’s an extensive collection of films from the Normandy landings during WW2 in the British Pathé archive. Click here for a selection. A more general Second World War Collection can be found here.

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www.britishpathe.com

In the News: Boston, Texas, and the Queen’s birthday

There’s been many traumatic incidents over the last few days – earthquakes, shootings, terrorist atrocities, industrial accidents… Sadly, these are nothing new, and the British Pathé archive contains a great deal of past tragedies. The Day That Shook The World series, for instance, features many acts of terror, including the IRA bombing in Brighton, 9/11, the London Bombings of 2005, the Belsan School Siege, and the Oklahoma attack. You can find every episode here.

The following may also be of some interest:

Boston Marathon

The world’s oldest annual marathon was twice covered by Pathé News – in 1938 and 1967. Watch both films here.

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Texas Fire

Texas has seen many industrial accidents in the past, including the worst in the history of the United States – a terrible fire at an oil refinery in April 1947. Nearly 600 people lost their lives.

In March of 1937, an explosion at a Texan school, caused by a natural gas leak, killed nearly 300 people.

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The Queen’s Birthday

Although her Official birthday is not until June, Elizabeth II was actually born on 21st April 1926. She will be 87 this year. As the daughter of the Duke of York, her birth did not earn newsreel coverage at the time. But there is some early footage of her as a young princess and a collection of key films from her reign.

Perhaps of particular interest is this newsreel celebrating her 21st birthday, which includes great footage of a care-free princess.

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www.britishpathe.com

Funerals of Former Prime Ministers

As thousands of mourners including world leaders and dignitaries get ready to pay their respects to Margaret Thatcher, we take a look at the funerals of previous British Prime Ministers that were filmed and can be found in the British Pathé archive. In all, the funerals of eleven PMs feature in the collection. You can view the individual films via the links below, or cycle through this image gallery.

Image: Horse-drawn hearse of William Gladstone.
Image: Horse-drawn hearse of William Gladstone.

 

Funeral films for the following prime ministers:

Lord Asquith

Clement Attlee

Stanley Baldwin

Arthur Balfour

Neville Chamberlain

David Lloyd George

William Gladstone

Andrew Bonar Law

Ramsay MacDonald

and Archibald Primrose

Probably the most notable funeral is that of Winston Churchill, who was given a state funeral in 1965. You can view Pathé’s coverage of the occasion here.

The state funeral of Winston Churchill. Click the still to view the film.
The state funeral of Winston Churchill. Click the still to view the film.

View British Pathé’s Prime Ministers’ Funerals Gallery.