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.

Eid Mubarak

British Pathé wishes a very happy Eid to Muslims worldwide. This vintage newsreel shows English Muslims attending celebrations at Woking Mosque in Surrey in 1926.

The lives of Muslims in Britain was well-documented by Pathé News. As well as the above Eid al-Fitr footage, there is news coverage of Ramadan, Eid al-Adha, and the opening of London’s first Mosque. For some reason the cameramen often seemed reluctant to travel further than Woking, but the films are nevertheless interesting and a selection of them can be viewed on the British Pathé website via this link.

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The Pope Visits the Holy Land

THE PAPAL PILGRIMAGE (1964).

It is 50 years since Pope Paul VI became the first pontiff to visit the Holy Land. British Pathé documented his journey in widescreen and Technicolor. The trip was brief, but historic. It took place on 4-5th January 1964. Click here to view the newsreel.

The archive also includes unused material that was not included in the final edit, as well as a black and white version of the film. If you’re interested, you can see those here.

2013 was a big year for the Papacy, with the resignation of Benedict XVI and the election of Francis as the increasingly popular 266th Pope. British Pathé has a substantial collection of footage for past pontiffs:

Benedict XV – died 1922

Pius XI British Pathé filmed the election of Benedict XV’s successor, who served from 1922 until his own death in 1939.

Pius XII – Pope from 1939 until 1958.

John XXIII – Pope from 1958 until 1963.

Paul VI Pope from 1963 until 1978.

View Paul VI’s visit to the Holy Land here.

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Lest We Forget

Remembrance Sunday will shortly be upon us. The British Pathé archive is rich in footage from twentieth century conflicts. We share some select films in the collections listed below.

The First World War

British Pathé holds one of the finest and most comprehensive First World War archives in the world. You will find chilling shots of young troops huddled in their trenches, wearing gas masks, and going “over the top”, as well as battleships at sea, and aerial warfare. There is also footage of shell shock victims at Seal Hayne military hospital in Devon.

The above link is just a selection and you can find more than 2,000 relevant films by searching on our site.

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The Second World War

The archives of World War Two material filmed by British Pathé are wide-ranging. Pathé cameramen went with the troops all around the world as well as documenting the destruction at home. Footage details warfare on land, at sea, and in the air.

A general Second World War Collection can be found here – just a selection of the 4,000 films available.

WW2

Korean War

The Korean War is often referred to as “The Forgotten War”. Two and a half million people lost their lives in this conflict, including many British soldiers. Our Korean War Collection (just a selection) can be found here, or you can search our website for what you need.

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Remembrance

As well as contemporary coverage of various remembrance events and religious services. A catalogue of our Remembrance Day footage can be found here, or you can search our website for more specific films. A particularly interesting one details the work of the Royal British Legion, and visits the factory in Richmond in which war veterans make poppies.

REMEMBRANCE

Remembrance Sunday is on 10th November. Remembrance Day is on 11th November.

www.britishpathe.com

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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

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.

On this day… This week round-up

70 years ago, the submarine HMS Thunderbolt sank for the second time, with the loss of everyone aboard. It had sunk four years previously, raised, and renamed. British Pathé has footage of HMS Thunderbolt, its launch at Birkenhead, and the original sinking off North Wales. Click here to view the collection.

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HMS Thunderbolt.

Cheltenham Gold Cup  (15 March)

Tomorrow, the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup will take place. British Pathé has footage of the very first Gold Cup jump race, in 1924. Watch the film here.

Six Nations: England v Wales  (16 March)

On Saturday, England will play Wales in a deciding game. England’s 1924 Grand Slam can be viewed here.

Marshal Tito visits London  (16 March)

60 years ago, the leader of Yugoslavia came to Britain and met the Prime Minister in London and toured Cambridge. British Pathé newsreels covered the state visit. You can view them here.

50 years since the death of Sir William Beveridge  (16 March)

British Pathé conducted interviews with Sir William on his welfare report and covered his wedding in 1942. Click here to view the films. He died on 16th March 1963.

In other news…

Nick Compton

Nick Compton recently made his England Test cricket debut (November 2012) and is currently touring with the team in New Zealand. Nick is the grandson of cricketer and footballer Denis Compton, who features heavily in the British Pathé archive. A selection can be found here.

Past Popes

The British Pathé archive has a great deal of footage for the Twentieth Century popes from 1922 until 1972. A selection for each can be found via these links:

Benedict XV – died 1922

Pius XI British Pathé filmed the election of Benedict XV’s successor, who served from 1922 until his own death in 1939.

Pius XII – Pope from 1939 until 1958.

John XXIII – Pope from 1958 until 1963.

Paul VI Pope from 1963 until 1978.

www.britishpathe.com

Popes of the Twentieth Century

Today’s news is full of stories about the Pope’s resignation. After eight years, Benedict XVI will step down due to ill health. He will be the first pope to relinquish the position since Gregory XII in 1415. This was the statement that was released by the Vatican:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.

I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.

For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

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The British Pathé archive holds a great deal of material related to the papacy and to many of the previous popes who served during the Twentieth Century.

Benedict XV

The earliest footage of a pope in the archive dates from 1922. Benedict XV died in this year and newsreels announced his death. His twenty-first century namesake called him a “prophet of peace” for his role in the First World War.

"Requiescat in Pace. Late Pope Benedict XV lying in State", 1922 newsreel.
“Requiescat in Pace. Late Pope Benedict XV lying in State”, 1922 newsreel.

Pius XI

British Pathé filmed the election of Benedict XV’s successor, who served from 1922 until his own death in 1939. During his tenure, he presided over the transformation of Vatican City into a sovereign state. Click here to view a selection of news stories from his reign.

Pope Pius XI has a public appearance after recovering from a heart attack, 1938.
Pope Pius XI has a public appearance after recovering from a heart attack, 1938.

Pius XII

Pope Pius XII was on the Vatican throne from 1939 until 1958, serving notably during the years Second World War.

Pope Pius XII is crowned, 1939.
Pope Pius XII is crowned, 1939.

John XXIII

“Good Pope John” served from 1958 until 1963.

Pope John XXIII prays in the Vatican Grottos.
Pope John XXIII prays in the Vatican Grottos.

Paul VI

Pope Paul VI (r. 1963-1978) was the first Pope to visit the United States. The archive contains footage of the visit, as well as other events from his tenure.

The Pope visits Uganda, 1969.
The Pope visits Uganda, 1969.

John Paul II

When Paul VI died in 1978, he was succeeded by John Paul I. Sadly, 33 days after his succession, John Paul was discovered dead in his bed. John Paul II replaced him, the first non-Italian pope for more than 400 years. He died in 2005 and an episode of A Day That Shook The World documents the funeral.

Search for more footage at www.britishpathe.com

90,000 Historical Newsreels For Use in Your History Lessons

The British Pathé Education service has been nominated for a 2013 BETT Award for its digital resource available to British schools and academies. For any of you who are interested, here’s a bit of information about the subscription.

Teaching History Ad

You can also watch a demo of the subscription in action below:

If this is of interest to you or your school, you can find out more information here and get in touch with us.

Review of the Year 2012 – A Pathé Tradition

From 1922 to 1969, British Pathé produced lengthy round-ups of the year’s news stories that collected together the most dramatic images and covered the most important events. Not confined to British politics, these reviews act as a whirlwind tour of the world at the time in which they were made, chronicling everything from war to royal christenings, technological innovations to key sports matches as they go. You can view the entire Review of the Yearcollection here or choose from the list at the bottom of this page.

Now, in that tradition, we take a look at the last 12 months in a review of 2012. Here are some highlights (one for each month) of this tremendous year for which the British Pathé archive holds some relevant footage:

January

Our review of 2012 begins with something that happened many years before, for January marked an important anniversary. 90 years ago, on 3rd January 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Egyptian pharoah Tutankhamun. British Pathé has footage of Carter outside his discovery, as well as coverage of the treasures found within. Click here to explore the collection.

Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun. Click the still to view the collection.
Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun. Click the still to view the collection.

February

It feels just like yesterday but it was in fact back in February that we all came out in celebration for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. There was a royal river pageant (a gallery of previous royal barges can be found here), a concert, a Royal Tour of the country, and street parties across the nation.

British Pathé’s celebration of the life of Elizabeth II can be found here. Beginning with the Queen as a young girl with her grandmother, it features her marriage, her coronation, the royal tours, select royal visits within Britain, and the home life of the Royal Family. The collection concludes with footage of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Click the still to view the film.
The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Click the still to view the film.

March

In March, the economic situation in the UK looked no better. Unemployment reached its highest figure (2.67 million) since 1995, though it was still not as high as in 1984. The ups and downs of unemployment can be traced via newsreels in the British Pathé archive. Click here to explore.

10,000 workers demonstrate in Trafalgar Square - 2,500 similar demonstrations were held in other parts of country - on Unemployment Sunday in 1923. Click the still to see our archive of unemployment-related clips.
10,000 workers demonstrate in Trafalgar Square – 2,500 similar demonstrations were held in other parts of country – on Unemployment Sunday in 1923. Click the still to see our archive of unemployment-related clips.

April

The Cutty Sark re-opened to visitors after a dreadful fire. But in April we also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the loss of Titanic. The British Pathé archive contains not only footage of the legendary liner herself, but also of her great sister ships Olympic and Britannic, both of which had accidents of their own. You can explore our centenary collection or read about the footage in the blog post, Titanic and the Other Two.

Click the still to visit our Titanic Centenary Collection.
Click the still to visit our Titanic Centenary Collection.

May

Yet another important anniversary, this time of Amelia Earhart’s crossing of the Atlantic 80 years prior. Interestingly, an expedition was launched in 2012 in an attempt to discover her remains. We wrote a blog post about it that included links to various clips featuring that amazing personality.

Click the still to read about The Hunt of Amelia Earhart.
Click the still to read about The Hunt for Amelia Earhart.

June

On 14th June 1982, the Falkland’s War came to an end, with Britain having reclaimed sovereignty over the islands following an Argentine invasion. June 2012, therefore, marked 30 years since the conclusion of the conflict. We wrote about it in our blog post When the Falklands Were Forgotten, and you can view relevant footage in this collection.

Click the still to view footage of the Falkland Islands and the 1982 war.
Click the still to view footage of the Falkland Islands and the 1982 war.

July

One cannot think of 2012 without thinking of the Olympics. British Pathé has footage of many Olympic Games, including the two other London years, 1908 and 1948. We also digitised 300 Olympics clips, making them available on the website for the very first time. You can read about them here.

Click to view 15 still images from what is now considered to be the first of the modern Olympic Games.
Click to view 15 still images from what is now considered to be the first of the modern Olympic Games.

August

One of the highlights of 2012 was the Paralympic Games, which began at the end of August and were also held in London. The Paralympics started life in the British village of Stoke Mandeville and the Ninth Annual International Stoke Mandeville Games (1960) are now known as the first Summer Paralympics. British Pathé’s collection of material on the Stoke Mandeville Games can be viewed here.

Click this still to visit our gallery, "Paralympics: Pictorial History".
Click this still to visit our gallery, “Paralympics: Pictorial History”.

September

Barack Obama accepted the nomination of the Democrats to run for re-election. He went on to win the 2012 Presidential Election and became the only Democrat to have won the popular vote twice since Franklin Roosevelt. You can see some clips from Roosevelt’s three presidential election wins here.

President Roosevelt takes the oath for his second term. Click the still to view films covering his three presidential election wins.
President Roosevelt takes the oath for his second term. Click the still to view films covering his three presidential election wins.

October

A YouTube sensation! Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier, leaping from a balloon 24 miles above the ground.

In 1960, balloonist Captain Joseph W Kittinger made the then-highest ascent and longest jump. Click the still to view the film.
In 1960, balloonist Captain Joseph W Kittinger made the then-highest ascent and longest jump. Click the still to view the film.

November

It was the Queen and Prince Philip’s 65th (blue sapphire) Wedding Anniversary in November, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Windsor Castle fire in what was the Queen’s “annus horribilis“. You can watch footage of the fire and A Day That Shook The World episodes on the British Royal Family in Crisis and the separation of Charles and Diana, or view the the announcement of the Queen’s engagement and the coverage of her wedding.

The Wedding Day in 1947. Click the still to view the film.
The Wedding Day in 1947. Click the still to view the film.

December

In the final month of 2012, the world received the news that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William were expecting their first child. We took a guess at possible baby names in this gallery. You can also vote in our poll here.

This still shows the Queen holding baby Prince Andrew. Click to visit our Royal Baby Names gallery.
This still shows the Queen holding baby Prince Andrew. Click to visit our Royal Baby Names gallery.

Have we missed something important for which the British Pathé archive has relevant material? Leave us a comment. You can also search our Ten Most Popular Clips of 2012 and visit our tumblr and Pinterest pages which were launched this year.

We hope you enjoyed 2012 as much as we did. Here’s to 2013!

Watch a previous “Review of the Year” by selecting from the list below:

Episode Title Date
1 Look Back On 1922 1922
2 Section From Review Of 1923 1923
3 1925 Reviewed ( Reel 1 Of 3) 1926
4 1925 Reviewed (Reel 2 Of 3) 1926
5 1925 Reviewed (Reel 3 Of 3) 1926
6 Review Of 1934 1934
7 Review Of The Year 1935 1935
8 Review Of The Year 1936 1936
9 Review Of The Year 1938
10 Review Of The Year – 1939 1939
11 Review Of The Year 1940 1940
12 Review Of The Year 1941 1941
13 Review Of The Year – 1943 1943
14 Review Of The Year 1946 1946
15 Looking Back – On 1947 1947
16 1948 A Year Of Great Decision (Aka Review Of The Year ) 1948
17 Akc Review Of 1949 1949
18 Review Of The Year 1950 Record A 1950
19 Review Of The Year 1950 Record B 1950
20 Pathe News Reviews 1951 1951
21 The Crowning Year 1953
22 Pathe News Reviews 1954 – A Year Of Endeavour 1954
23 Review Of The Year 1955
24 Pathe News Reviews 1956 – Year Of Turmoil 1956
25 Reviews 1957 (Aka Review Of The Year – 1957) 1957
26 Review Of 1958 1958
27 Review Of The Year 1959 1959
28 Review Of 1960 1960
29 Review Of 1961 1961
30 Review Of 1962 1962
31 Review Of 1963 1963
32 Review Of 1964 1964
33 A Year Of Achievements – Technicolor 1966
34 Review Of The Year 1967
35 Review Of The Sixties 1970

Christmas Greetings From Space

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We’ve been promoting our Space Archive a great deal recently as part of our “Alternative Pathé” drive. So it seemed appropriate to share this Christmas message from the British Pathé staff of 1968: “The world seen from space is a small place. Even now we strive for the stars, but our Christmas wish is for peace and happiness to conquer our planet. We wish you all that is good, a very happy Christmas.”

The brief clip is called “Christmas Greetings From Space” and can be viewed here.

But as well as this Christmas message, we also have a Christmas gift for you – this terrific clip from our archives:

All of us at British Pathé wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

www.britishpathe.com

From the Dark Ages

King Arthur and his legendary Knights of the Round Table; the heroic King of Wessex, Alfred the Great; hordes of Viking invaders – there’s nothing like a good early-medieval tale. Nostalgia for the Dark Ages is nothing new and we’ve put together a collection of material on people revelling in the trappings of that period and culture.

Strictly speaking, there weren’t really any “Dark Ages”. They are more a creation of popular culture than any historical reality and academics today discourage use of the term as judgemental and inaccurate. Indeed, many inventions of the so-called Dark Ages are still in use today, so there’s much to celebrate in the era after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

In this post, we celebrate just a few things that have survived from the Dark Ages into the Twentieth Century through footage within the British Pathé archive. More clips can be found in our collection here.

1. The foundation of the English language

It wouldn’t be easy for us to pick up a 5th-century Old English manuscript and read it like we would a modern-day novel. Indeed, here is a short passage from Beowulf, written some time between the 8th and the 11th centuries:

Hwæt. We Gardena    in gear-dagum,
þeodcyninga,     þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas     ellen fremedon.

Translated, this would be:

What. We of the Spear-Danes  in old days of the people-kings,    power heard, how the princes    brave deeds did.*

It is hard to believe that this Old English passage bears much relation to our own language, but this is the root of the way we write and speak; a language which would evolve over the centuries; a language of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Dan Brown.

Ernest Hemingway, a 20th century author making use of a language invented during the "Dark Ages", in a still from a newsreel announcing his suicide. Click the still to view the 1961 film.
Ernest Hemingway, a 20th century author making use of a language invented during the “Dark Ages”, in a still from a newsreel announcing his suicide. Click the still to view the 1961 film.

2. English Christianity

In 597 AD, the Benedictine monk Augustine arrived on the pagan shores of early-medieval Britain on a mission to spread Christianity on behalf of the Pope. Augustine is known as the first Archbishop of Canterbury, a position that has survived to the present day.

Dr. Geoffrey Fisher blesses the congregation following his enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1945. Click the still to view the film.
Dr. Geoffrey Fisher blesses the congregation following his enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1945. Click the still to view the film.

3. The Blast Furnace

The first to invent the Blast Furnace were the Chinese in the 5th century. Western Europe, on the other hand, would not catch up until the 12th century. But the “Dark Ages” did introduce something similar and very close to it. That was the Catalan forge, created in Catalonia, Spain during the 8th century.

This 1940s education film details the workings of the blast furnace, an invention of the "Dark Ages". Click the still to view the film.
This 1940s education film details the workings of the blast furnace, which was preceded by a similar invention from the “Dark Ages”. Click the still to watch.

4. The Horseshoe

Nailed horseshoes were an innovation of the “Dark Ages”, possibly from the 9th century, allowing horses to more easily traverse difficult territory without causing harm to their hooves.

A look at the work of village blacksmith Arthur Booth. Near Darlington, Durham, 1943. Click the still to view the film.
A look at the work of village blacksmith Arthur Booth. Near Darlington, Durham, 1943. Click the still to view the film.

5. The English Navy

The earliest references to ships used by English kings in battle come from the “Dark Ages”. It was the threat of Viking invaders that propelled the formation of a navy on a large scale during the course of the 9th century, particularly under King Alfred the Great. Over the centuries, Britain grew into the world’s greatest maritime power, before declining significantly in influence during the 20th century.

'"Rule Britannia!" Pictures to thrill every British heart (taken by special permission) during Atlantic Battle Fleet Manoeuvres.' Click the still to view this 1928 newsreel.
“Rule Britannia! Pictures to thrill every British heart (taken by special permission) during Atlantic Battle Fleet Manoeuvres.” Click the still to view this 1928 newsreel.

6. Sheriffs

The office of sheriff has had a varying meaning depending on the period and the particular country. In England it is now a ceremonial position, but in the 10th century it was a “keeper of the peace” appointed by the king and was known as a “shire reeve”, somewhat akin to the modern-day American police officer.

Almost every Sheriff in Britain is at the ceremony of Exeter's 400th anniversary in this 1937 film. Click the still to view it.
Almost every Sheriff in Britain is at the ceremony of Exeter’s 400th anniversary in this 1937 film. Click the still to view it.

7. The English Monarchy

Alfred the Great was the first to style himself as “King of the English”, but it was King Aethelstan in the 10th century who really ruled what we would consider to be an English kingdom. Polls show that the British have no desire to rid themselves of this historic institution.

The Queen is crowned in this colour footage of the coronation. Click the still to view the film.
The Queen is crowned in this colour footage of the coronation. Click the still to view the film.

Can you think of any more? Object to any of our choices? Leave us a comment.

You can find all of the above films and many more in this collection.

* Source: http://www.nvcc.edu/home/vpoulakis/Translation/beowulf1.htm

British Pathé Spreads Its Wings

This quick message is to tell you about our brand new Social Media pages. Don’t worry, we’re not neglecting the old ones. In fact, we’ve recently updated our WordPress blog page and started a new series of posts summarising the contents of the archive – such as our Animation Archive, War Archive and Undersea Antics – and the history of British Pathé (see Part I of IV here). But we’ve started a new blog as well. Mostly this mirrors our Facebook page, but there are also exclusives too – such as this article on great goals. You’ll find this new blog, hosted by Tumblr, here: http://britishpathe.tumblr.com/

We also recently started a Pinterest page. If you’ve never tried Pinterest, it can be quite a lot of fun. We’ve got plenty of collections dedicated to certain aspects of the archive. You can explore them here: http://pinterest.com/britishpathe/. We’ve only just begun these boards, so they’re not going to blow you away, but follow them now if you don’t want to miss out on our updates!

Our Pinterest boards.
Our Pinterest boards.

We’re delighted with how loyal and active our Social Media supporters have been – and all for what is, essentially, old news! Thank you all. You’ve written so many comments, shared many images and clips, and watched countless videos. Recently we reached 10,000 likes for our Facebook page, and are about to pass the 11,000 mark. Join us there if you haven’t already for daily links to clip collections or films: http://www.facebook.com/britishpathe. Or follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BritishPathe. And don’t forget that we also have a popular YouTube channel.

So take your pick of Social Media platform or follow us on all of them if you like. Let us know what you think and what you’d like from us. If you want to, you can do this anonymously here. And know that we appreciate the interest shown in our archive. It’s fantastic to know that this historic footage is not forgotten.

Visit our Pinterest page here or our tumblr blog here.

Twentieth Century Hall Of Fame

Salvador Dali, with his famous moustache.
Salvador Dali, with his famous moustache.

Around the time that what was then called “British Pathé News” was producing A Day That Shook The World with the BBC, work also began on a companion series entitled Twentieth Century Hall of Fame. Both series are important additions to the archive, for they bring its content into the 21st century (Pathé News ended in February 1970). It was not until this year, however, that the series were made available to view on the British Pathé website.

Twentieth Century Hall of Fame chronicles the lives of the most important and well-known figures of the last 100 years, whether they be politicians, musicians, or sports stars. This is a diverse collection of biographies, including such characters as Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Grace Kelly, and Muhammad Ali. Each episode succinctly summarises in four-minutes the life of the subject, serving as a useful introduction.

Many of the episodes are made up of footage already contained within the British Pathé archive, but some footage is unique to this series. This is the case primarily with those people who came to prominence in the 1970s, 80s, or 90s. These include Princess Diana, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Mother Teresa.

The episodes are dated by the year in which the subject was born.

Fashion designer Mary Quant is the subject of an episode.
Fashion designer Mary Quant is the subject of an episode.

 

Musician Louis Armstrong.
Musician Louis Armstrong.
Actor/comedian Charlie Chaplin is the subject of the first episode of the series.
Actor/comedian Charlie Chaplin is the subject of the first episode of the series.

You can view the entire Twentieth Century Hall of Fame series by clicking http://www.britishpathe.com/programmes/hall-of-fame or selecting the link below that you want:

Episode Date
1 Charlie Chaplin 1889
2 Louis Armstrong 1901
3 Salvador Dali 1904
4 Marilyn Monroe 1926
5 Amelia Earhart 1897
6 Juan Fangio 1911
7 Malcolm Campbell 1885
8 Elvis Presley 1935
9 Muhammad Ali 1942
10 Emmeline Pankhurst 1858
11 Stanley Matthews 1915
12 Bobby Jones 1902
13 Marlene Dietrich 1901
14 Brigitte Bardot 1934
15 Richard Burton 1925
16 Maurice Chevalier 1888
17 Dwight D. Eisenhower 1890
18 Grace Kelly 1929
19 Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis 1929
20 Laurel And Hardy 1890
21 John Lennon 1940
22 Mary Quant 1934
23 Margot Fontaine And Rudolf Nureyev 1919
24 Laurence Olivier 1907
25 Ronald Reagan 1911
26 Margaret Thatcher 1925
27 Charles De Gaulle 1890
28 Edward And Mrs Simpson 1894
29 Fidel Castro 1926
30 Mother Teresa 1910
31 Nikita Khruschev 1894
32 Charles Lindbergh 1902
33 Eva Peron 1919
34 Yuri Gagarin 1934
35 Bob Hope 1903
36 Princess Diana 1961
37 Sophia Loren 1934
38 Gandhi 1869
39 Liz Taylor 1932

Days That Shook The World – 21st Century Pathé

A few years ago, what was then called “British Pathé News” began a production with the BBC called A Day That Shook The World. Two series were eventually made, the first narrated by John Humphrys, and they are available on our website to view (for free) in our programmes section. The last Pathé newsreel was released in February 1970, so this series and the associated series 20th Century Hall of Fame bring the archive beyond the twentieth century.

Topics covered by the series include September 11th, the Iraq War and the Capture of Saddam Hussein, the collapse of Enron, the Asian Tsunami, and the London Bombings. From this period, the series also covers the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla – not quite an event that “shook the world” but certainly an interesting one.

From the latter part of the twentieth century, the series documents the impeachment of President Clinton, the death of Diana, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War, Chernobyl, and the Falklands Crisis. Prior to that we are in classic Pathe territory, with episodes succinctly summarising key events using Pathe footage that was captured at the time – the Somme, Hiroshima, Queen Victoria’s funeral, to name but a few. The series therefore acts as a useful entry point into an archive of 90,000 clips to wade through.

Martin Luther King is the subject of an episode. Click the still to watch the film.
The moon landings are covered in an episode. Click the still to view it.

You can view the entire A Day That Shook The World series by clicking http://www.britishpathe.com/programmes/day-that-shook-the-world or selecting the link below that you want:

Episode Title Date
1 Queen   Victorias Funeral 1901
2 The   Wright Brothers First Flight 1903
3 Emily   Davison Throws Herself Under The Kings Derby Horse 1913
4 Battle   Of The Somme 1916
5 Abdication   Of The Tsar Nikolas 1917
6 Irish   Free State Treaty Signed 1921
7 Suzanne   Lenglen Breaks Wimbledon Record 1925
8 Start   Of UK General Strike 1926
9 Charles   Lindbergh Flies The Atlantic Solo 1927
10 American   Golfer Bobby Jones Wins Grand Slam 1930
11 Hitler   Becomes German Chancellor 1933
12 Edward   VIII Abdicates 1936
13 Hindenburg   Airship Crash 1937
14 Hitler   Annexes Austria 1938
15 Germany   Invades Poland 1939
16 Evacuation   Of Dunkirk 1940
17 London   Blitz Begins On Civilian Targets 1940
18 Pearl   Harbour Attacked 1941
19 Battle   Of El Alamein Begins 1942
20 Fall   Of Stalingrad – German Army Surrenders 1943
21 D-Day   Landings 1944
22 Liberation   Of Paris 1944
23 Big   Three Meet At Yalta To Carve Up Post-War World 1945
24 Germans   Surrender To Montgomery 1945
25 VE   Day Celebrations 1945
26 First   Atomic Bomb Test In New Mexico 1945
27 Labours   Landslide Election Win 1945
28 Atomic   Bomb Dropped On Hiroshima 1945
29 India   And Pakistan Gain Independence 1947
30 Berlin   Airlift Begins 1948
31 Maos   Communists Take Over In China 1949
32 Korean   War Starts 1950
33 Britain   Explodes First Atomic Bomb 1952
34 Launch   Of First Nuclear Submarine 1954
35 Roger   Bannister Breaks Four Minute Mile 1954
36 French   Surrender At Dien Bien Phu 1954
37 Le   Mans 24 Race Disaster 1955
38 Khrushchev   Denounces Stalin 1956
39 First   Nuclear Power Station 1956
40 Soviets   Crush Hungarian Revolt 1956
41 Suez   Invasion 1956
42 Manchester   United Players Die In Munich Air Crash 1958
43 Peles   World Cup Final Performance Thrills Crowds 1958
44 First   Hovercraft Run 1959
45 Kennedy   Inauguration 1961
46 Yuri   Gagarin Becomes The First Man In Space 1961
47 Erection   Of The Berlin Wall 1961
48 Cuban   Missile Crisis 1962
49 Martin   Luther King Delivers His “I Have A Dream” Speech 1962
50 Kennedy   Assassinated 1963
51 Beatles   Return From States In Triumph 1964
52 Aberfan   Slag Heap Buries School 1966
53 Donald   Campbell Dies In Bluebird Crash 1967
54 Six-Day   War Begins 1967
55 Grosvenor   Square Anti-Vietnam Riots 1968
56 Paris   Riots – France Comes Close To Revolution 1968
57 Soviets   Put Down Prague Spring 1968
58 Concorde   Flies For First Time 1969
59 Armstrong   Sets Foot On The Moon 1969
60 Bloody   Sunday In Northern Ireland 1972
61 Nixon   First Us President To Resign 1974
62 Ayatollah   Khomeini Returns From Exile 1979
63 Lord   Mountbatten Assassinated By IRA 1979
64 British   Sas Storm Iranian Embassy In London 1980
65 British   Task Force To Sail For Falklands 1982
66 HMS   Sheffield Sunk In Falklands War 1982
67 IRA   Bombs British Cabinet At Brighton 1984
68 Ethiopian   Famine – BBC Reports Spark Huge Response 1984
69 Heysel   Stadium Riots 1985
70 Challenger   Spacecraft Explodes 1986
71 America   Attacks Libya 1986
72 Chernobyl   Disaster 1986
73 Zeebrugge   Ferry Disaster 1987
74 Lockerbie   Pan-Am Jet Explosion 1988
75 Exxon   Valdez- Worlds Worst Oil Spill 1989
76 Hillsborough   Football Stadium Disaster 1989
77 Tiananmen   Square Massacre 1989
78 Berlin   Wall Comes Down 1989
79 Official   End Of The Cold War – Bush/gorbachev Agree To Deal 1989
80 Ceausescu   Overthrown 1989
81 Nelson   Mandela Released 1990
82 Iraq   Invade Kuwait 1990
83 Thatcher   Falls From Power 1990
84 Desert   Storm – Gulf War 1990
85 Soviet   Coup Failed 1991
86 Maastricht   Treaty 1991
87 Los   Angeles Race Riots 1992
88 British   Royal Family In Crisis 1992
89 Windsor   Castle Damaged By Fire 1992
90 The   Prince And Princess Separate 1992
91 Arab   Israeli Peace Agreement 1993
92 Yeltsin   Crushes Political Rebels 1993
93 Bosnian   Crisis 1994
94 Barings   Bank Collapses 1995
95 150   Die In Oklahoma Terrorist Attack 1995
96 Dolly   The Sheep Clone Unveiled 1997
97 Princess   Of Wales Dies In Paris Car Crash 1997
98 Death   Of Mother Teresa 1997
99 Funeral   Of Diana, Princess Of Wales 1997
100 Hurricane   Mitch 1998
101 President   Clintons Impeachment 1998
102 NATO   Bombing Of Chinese Embassy, Belgrade 1999
103 The   Millennium 2000
104 Deciphering   Of The Human Genome 2000
105 Concorde   Crash 2000
106 September   11th 2001
107 Ipod 2001
108 Battle   Of Tora Bora 2001
109 Fall   Of Iraq 2003
110 Saddam   Capture 2003
111 Beslan   School Siege 2004
112 Orange   Revolution (Ukraine) 2004
113 Asian   Tsunami 2004
114 Kyoto   Agreement 2005
115 Pope   John Paul II Dies 2005
116 Charles   And Camilla 2005
117 Super   Jumbo Airbus 2005
118 London   Awarded 2012 Olympics 2005
119 London   Bombings 2005
120 Hurricane   Katrina 2005
121 Israeli   Invasion Of Lebanon 2006
122 Collapse   Of Enron 2006

Pathé’s Hidden Treasures

“That’s all very well, but what has the Pathé archive got for ME?”

It can be tempting to think of the British Pathé archive as being only of interest to those with a passion for the history of the Twentieth Century. After all, the bulk of the footage comes from around 1914 to 1969 – the earliest clip in the archive is from 1895 (New Blacksmith Shop) with the most recent material contained within a BBC/British Pathé co-production covering the collapse of Enron in 2006 – but there is in fact plenty for those with a preference for other historical periods, or those who have specialist interests, to explore. The Pathé archive isn’t all about the Queen and British politics.

An obvious starting place for those with an interest in history prior to the Twentieth Century, is the archive relating to Ancient Egypt. We have footage of Howard Carter in front of the tomb of Tutankhamun, as well as shots of the treasures found within. (Visit our Tutankhamun collection here.)

Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun.

But as well as that famous pharoah and his discoverer, our extensive archaeology archive (click here) contains coverage from all parts of the world. You’ll be able to see Tudor and Roman Britain excavations, tour Pompeii, the Middle East, and dive the oceans to explore shipwrecks.

It’s true that none of these clips are necessarily going to help you study these periods (unless you want to look at how they were portrayed in the Twentieth Century), but they are surely of interest. What Egyptologist wouldn’t marvel at seeing Carter at the tomb, or the glistening treasures on display?

There’s also stuff for people who don’t even like history (if such people exist). Here we present just a few ideas for exploring the archive for those with specialist interests.

A still from the series Secrets of Nature.

Fascinated by science, animals, or insects? Try the classic Secrets of Nature – it covers the amazing life-cycles of plants, via some stunning microscope photography, as well as detailing the lives of many species of animals, birds, and insects.

Haven’t travelled enough? Take the cheap option and travel the world through British Pathé’s collection of travelogues. Escape the humdrum of everyday life with these clips (for the most part in colour) of numerous sites – from the ancient cities of Jerusalem, Rome, and Thebes, to the culturally rich capitals of Paris and Moscow, to the childish delights of Disneyland in sunny California.

Like animation? See Jerry the Troublesome Tyke, a classic animated series from the silent era, addictive due to its immense charm and wealth of humour.

What about music? We’ve got the Rolling Stones! Or visit our Beatlemania archive.

The Power of Nature.

Interested in the power of nature? Watch volcanoes explode, the earth shake, and rocks tumble in this collection.

Want to see an eclipse? Look at these: http://www.britishpathe.com/workspaces/show/jhoyle/hgG61kma/thumb

Always wanted to be an astronaut? Rewatch the moon landings or other significant events from the Space Race in our collection.

Or just want to pass the time with some wacky stuff? We’ve got a collection of crazy inventions, or just try searching for something. The still below is from our “Robot Boy” video, which has been popular recently. We found it by accident when looking for something else.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/robot-boy

So search the archive for hidden gems at www.britishpathe.com. There’s 90,000 clips with something for everyone! Thought of some topics we’ve missed? Leave us a comment below. Happy searching!

Poppies: An Illustrated History

As we approach Remembrance Day, that important British anniversary on which we reflect on the great sacrifices of previous generations, it is interesting to look at the history behind its key symbol – the poppy. Why do we wear it, and how did this tradition come about?

…………………………………………………….

The First World War was an earth-shattering global catastrophe that marked the end of the optimism of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It was this “Great War” which first introduced the use of the red poppy (the Papaver rhoeas) for the purpose of remembrance.

No Man's Land
No Man’s Land

No Man’s Land, a zone dividing the trenches of opposing forces, was heavily bombarded during the conflict. The beautiful scenery and grasslands of France and Belgium were churned into wet mud and desolate wasteland. It was here that many brave men fell after going “Over the top” to meet the flying bullets of enemy guns. And it was also here that, when the fighting had died down, poppies grew and spread in abundance, their blood-red colour providing a strong contrast to the brown muck. One of the most well-known references to this phenomenon comes in the war poem, “In Flanders Fields” by Lt Col John McCrae. One key line is:

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Earl Haig, supporter of the poppy and a founder of the Royal British Legion, visits wounded veterans at a hospital in 1921. Click the still to view the film.

These lines inspired their first use in the United States, where they were adopted by the National American Legion, in 1920. It was not long before the wearing of poppies as a sign of remembrance had spread to the United Kingdom, and it is here and in Commonwealth countries that the practice remains most common. Promoted by Douglas Haig, the poppies were soon widely worn on Remembrance Days. Made and sold by the Royal British Legion, the funds go to helping ex-servicemen and servicewomen and their families.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, visits the Richmond factory in 1939 to watch the workers manufacture the poppies that were an important feature of remembrance even before the Second World War. Click the still to view the film.
War veterans make poppies at the Royal British Legion factory in Richmond, 1941. Click the still to view the film.
War veterans make poppies at the Royal British Legion factory in Richmond, 1941. Click the still to view the film.

A film in the British Pathé archive details the making of poppies for distribution by the Royal British Legion. Made at the Richmond poppy factory, established as early as 1922, it has employed disabled ex-servicemen to construct the huge number of poppies needed every year. At the time the newsreel was produced in 1968, the factory had 300 staff and manufactured 13 million poppies per annum. To achieve such a mammoth task, they work all year round. Today, the factory produces as many as 36 million poppies per year, though the number of employees is only a fraction of what it once was.

The still to above shows a workman punching out the poppy shapes from a sheet of linen.
The cut-out shapes of linen are placed together and pressed into a mold.
The stalk is then applied, a thin strip of green fabric wrapped around a metal wire, before…
…the individual poppies are arranged into a wreath.

The full film also details the other stirling work done by the Royal British Legion. It can be viewed by clicking here. This year the charity hopes to raise £42 million.

There’s been some controversy in recent years about the wearing of poppies and their meaning. There are also rival poppies – the white poppy for pacifists, and the purple poppy to remember animal victims of war. But the traditional red poppy is no doubt here to stay, and serves as a reminder of great courage and sacrifice, and also of how lucky we are. But, of course, we cannot forget the men and women who still fight for our safety in ongoing conflicts around the world today.

We will remember them.

Going “over the top”.

British Pathé has a substantial collection of war footage. Search our website www.britishpathe.com.

This was re-published with minor revisions on November 4th 2013 as “Why We Wear Poppies”.

Boundless Energy: British Pathé Go Beating The Bounds

Barking Mad

It’s Ascension day today, and do you know what that means? That’s right – it’s time to beat the bounds. ‘Beating The Bounds’ is a 2000-year-old tradition in which villagers parade around their parish beating everything with sticks, or ‘wands’ made from willow. The tradition was altered by the church at one point so that it was boys’ heads that were whipped with these wands, or whipped on their rears as this strange clip from Addlestone in 1938 depicts!  ‘Boy bishops’ is another feature of ‘Beating The Bounds’ where a local boy is selected and dressed up as a bishop in full religious regalia, as a symbolic parody and upturn of power, an idea that was superimposed over the pagan notion of ‘king for a day’. The website http://www.strangebritain.co.uk tells us that “Curiously, other marker points around the boundary would also be beaten by literally bumping a boy (often a choirboy) against the mark. The boy would be suspended upside down and his head gently tapped against the stone or he would be taken by the feet and hands and swung against a tree! Nobody knows why or how the tradition originated. One explanation advanced is that it was intended to teach the young their parish’s limits and that the bumping of choir boys – at one time all the local children would have been involved – was ‘to help them remember’.”

The British Pathe archive naturally has some footage of various villages beating the bounds – here you can watch 8 archive videos of ‘Beating The Bounds’

The photograph above is taken from our clip of a 1937 ‘Beating The Bounds’ in Barking.