Goodbye from British Pathé

Friends and loyal followers,

It has been terrific sharing our collection with you over the last five years. We do hope you’ve enjoyed these blog posts (if you haven’t, we can only apologise) and that you’ll follow us to our new home. Our blog is leaving WordPress and will now be hosted on the main British Pathé website. You’ll find our favourite past blog posts up there too. And, just like with WordPress, you can enter your email address to continue getting new posts sent straight to your inbox.

Click here to visit the new British Pathé blog.

Do let us know what you think of the new blog and the sort of posts you want to read. You can get in touch by emailing info@britishpathe.com, leaving a comment beneath this post, or connecting with us via Facebook Twitter.

Our very best wishes,

British Pathé

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British Pathé is considered to be the finest newsreel archive in the world and is a treasure trove of 85,000 films unrivalled in their historical and cultural significance. Spanning the years from 1896 to 1976, the collection includes footage from around the globe of major events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, science and culture. The entire archive is available to view online for free via the British Pathé website and YouTube channel.

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Celebrate Scotland

In a previous post, we looked at a selection of films related to Scottish Independence. Now, with the referendum date looming, we’ve dived into our entire Scottish archive. We’ve compiled a sample of some of the finest 20th century reporting on Scotland and, as with our First World War centenary collection, organised them by topic. The films are presented on a single navigable page for the first time. You’ll find coverage of North Sea oil, NATO and nuclear power, as well as terrific celebrations of Scottish culture. You’ll even catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness monster.

Click here to begin exploring Scotland: The Heritage Collection.

Just some of the topics covered by the new collection.
Just some of the topics covered by the new collection.

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Scotland: The Future’s Past

On 18th September 2014, the people of Scotland will vote on a matter of great importance – “Should Scotland be an independent country?” It is not a new question and the British Pathé archive contains a few (and unfortunately only a few) films related to Scottish nationalism during the Twentieth Century. A selection of vintage videos can be viewed below. Particularly interesting is the 1951 newsreel, “The Stone Returns”.

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SCOTS’ WHA’ HAE’! (1929)

 

Full title reads: “SCOTS’ WHAE’ HAE’ – Scots Nationalists commemorate 624th anniversary of martyrdom of Sir William Wallace at his birthplace at Elderslie.” Silent newsreel released in cinemas on 29th August 1929. (William Wallace is more popularly known as “Braveheart”.)

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AROUND SCOTLAND – ARBROATH (1947)

 

The first part of this film documents the International Music and Drama Festival which took place in Edinburgh in 1947. The second features footage from Arbroath in which an historical pageant commemorating Scotland’s Charter of Independence takes place in the ruins of Arbroath Abbey. Released in cinemas 28th August 1947.

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“THE STONE” RETURNS (1951)

 

A very interesting film about the theft of the Stone of Scone / Destiny by young supporters of Scottish Home Rule from beneath the Coronation chair at Westminster Abbey in an attempt to return the historic object to the Scottish people. The event was even turned into a film in 2008.

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P.M. FOR COMMONS (1963)

 

Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home stands in by-election at Kinross against Arthur Donaldson, the Scottish National Party candidate, and television star William Rushton who hands out “No Home Rule” posters. Released in cinemas on 7th November 1963.

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Ageless Iraq

Basra – The Venice of the Middle East

For the last few decades, holidaying in Iraq has, sadly, been almost impossible. The country has been synonymous with war, violence and oppression for such a long time that the idea of visiting seems very fanciful for anyone born after the 1960s. 40 years ago, Iraq was in fact a popular destination for tourists. But for now, we can only travel there through the medium of film.

We posted an article, “Iraq Before Saddam“, a few days ago, featuring ten films from the history of Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion. But one of them deserves special attention.

The Pathé documentary unit shot a two reel documentary called Ageless Iraq back in the 1950s. If you disregard that the film was probably made for propaganda reasons (the notes say the film was made for the Iraq Petroleum Co.) and instead just view it as a travelogue, it paints a fascinating and extremely appealing picture of this ancient land.

Afternoon sailing trip

It is easy to forget that Iraq is in fact a country steeped in rich history and culture and as the first reel tells us, the very beginnings of civilisation started here. This is a country where writing was conceived and where man began cultivating the land. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow through Iraq, fertilising the plains and during the 1950s agriculture production was thriving and self-sufficient. Iraq is also home to the ancient walls of Babylon and is the birthplace of the prophet Abraham.

Baghdad – this could be a resort in any other holiday hot spot

Both reels show images of a landscape, culture and society that we just don’t associate with Iraq anymore: art, horseracing, music, cuisine and boats leisurely sailing down a canal in Basra otherwise known as “The Venice of the Middle East”.

The narrator states at the end: “Ageless Iraq, a new country but one that hasn’t forgotten the glories of its history. A country that is now emerging from the shadows of it past to a future bright with promise.” Let’s hope that this will soon be true again and that perhaps, one day, we will be able to book a flight to explore this fascinating land.

View both reels of Ageless Iraq below:

Iraq Before Saddam

During this time of turmoil in Iraq, it is interesting to look back at that country and its history prior to Saddam Hussein coming to power. In the British Pathé archive, there are some fascinating stories and images from that beautiful, if troubled, state. This selection of 10 films includes footage of King Feisal, the construction of Iraqi oil fields, and vintage looks at Iraqi culture.

For those wanting more recent footage from Iraq’s history, these short overviews by John Humphrys document Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991, Operation Desert Storm, the fall of Iraq during the 2003 invasion, and the capture of Saddam Hussein by US troops.

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1.  BAGHDAD AND BEYOND (c.1932)


The British mandate in Iraq came to an end in 1932 after twelve years. This film presents an intriguing picture of life in Iraq at around that time, including footage of the Iraqi army.

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2.  A ROYAL WELCOME (1933)


Full title reads: “Dover & London. A Royal Welcome. The King and Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Duke of Gloucester, Prime Minister and Officers of State, greet King Feisal of Irak on State visit for first time.”

There is an interesting outdated spelling of Iraq used in the title card.

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3.  IRAQ (1942)


This short little film provides a glimpse of life in Baghdad during the 1940s.

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4.  BOY KING OF IRAQ (1943)


Six-year-old King Feisal II tours a British military camp in Baghdad, Iraq with his uncle and regent Emir Abdul Illah. From the Second World War.

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5.  NEW OIL WEALTH FOR IRAQ (1952)


This newsreel concerns the opening of a new desert oil field near Basra by the Iraq Petroleum Company. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri Pasha al-Said, can be seen in the film.

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6.  AGELESS IRAQ – PARTS ONE AND TWO (1954)


This longer film, split across two reels, was made for the Iraq Petroleum Co. in the 1950s and documents life in Iraq – its political history, traditions, industry, and its religious life.

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7.  KING FEISAL ENTHRONED (1953)


The Duke of Gloucester attends the enthronement of Iraq’s young King Feisal in Baghdad, 1953.

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8.  IRAQ BOMBSHELL (1958)


A revolution in Iraq sweeps away King Feisal and his Prime Minister. This newsreel takes a quick look at the life of the monarch, including his state visit to England and the inaugurating of an oil well at Kirkuk.

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9.  BRITISH TROOPS DEFEND KUWAIT (1961)

Threatened by neighbouring Iraq, Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah of Kuwait seeks protection from British forces. News story with an American commentary.

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10.  FIRST PICTURES – REVOLT IN IRAQ (1963)

Prime Minister Kassem of Iraq is killed during a brief revolution in 1963. American commentary.

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Further Viewing
There are simply too many interesting films to list here. Additional films can be found by searching our YouTube channel or our website. But we’ve selected this “bonus” film. It features Ernest Bevin and the Iraqi Prime Minister Sayyid Salih Jabr in Portsmouth, England at the signing of a new treaty between Iraq and the United Kingdom in 1948.

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The Pathé World Cup Archives

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is underway in Brazil. At Pathé, some of us are football crazy – others less so! But whether you like your footie or not, there are some stories in the Pathé archive of interest to all. So, if you love football or just don’t want to feel left out of the conversation, here are some essential videos from Pathé’s vintage World Cup coverage.

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 MIGHTY ENGLAND – 1966

British Pathé has excellent coverage of the 1966 World Cup in fabulous Technicolor. The match, between England and West Germany, took place at Wembley. Note how the English and German fans are intermingled.

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PICKLES THE DOG FINDS THE WORLD CUP – 1966

Incredibly, there almost wasn’t a trophy to give England that year. The Cup was stolen, only to be discovered wrapped in newspaper on a London street by a dog called Pickles. This Pathé film shows Pickles getting his reward. Sadly, Pickles died the following year.

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HOW FOOTBALLS ARE MADE

This 1966 film shows footballs being made in Yorkshire for the World Cup. A surprisingly interesting look at something most of us never really give much thought to.
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1966 – IN-DEPTH

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Here’s our gallery of fun 1966 World Cup facts for those who want a more in-depth look at that fantastic year for English football: http://www.britishpathe.com/gallery/world-cup

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THE COMPLETE BRITISH PATHE WORLD CUP COLLECTION

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For those of you less enamoured with the great game (like your author – sorry, football fans!), if friends or colleagues mention a game from pre-1966 (unlikely) or from the post-Pathé era (quite likely), don’t panic! Just nod and say, “That was a very memorable match” – this can be used for both good and bad games. You’ll blend right in.

For those who want to delve more deeply into the Pathé archive than 1966, the company’s coverage of other World Cup years was more limited, but there are some good films, especially of qualifying matches. You can find every Pathé World Cup film in this collection on our website.

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To everyone everywhere, enjoy the World Cup!

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The British Pathé D-Day Archives

On 6 June 1944, the invasion of Normandy began. British Pathé newsreels documented every stage of the liberation of Europe. Three videos are especially worth bringing to your attention.

INVASION – PICTORIAL REPORTS FROM FRANCE

This contemporary Pathé newsreel documents D-Day for cinema audiences watching back home. It’s interesting to magine what they must have thought watching these pictures. Many would have had sons, brothers or husbands on the battlefield.


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D-DAY – THE GREATEST COMBINED OPERATION IN WORLD’S HISTORY

Another contemporary newsreel, longer than the first, really shows the scale of the Normandy landings, looking not just at the beaches but the operations at sea and in the air.


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A DAY THAT SHOOK THE WORLD: 6TH JUNE 1944

John Humphrys narrates this brief overview of D-Day in an episode of the series A Day That Shook the World, which British Pathé co-produced with the BBC.


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COLLECTIONS & GALLERIES

For a more in-depth look at the D-Day landings and subsequent battles, you can explore a collection British Pathé has compiled of  footage from the archive and organised by topic. You can see a screenshot of the collection below, very similar to the one we recently produced for the First World War. You can find the collection on our website via this link.

Finally, we’ve also put together a new gallery of 10 Amazing D-Day Facts. Do take a look.

D-Day

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