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.
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 email@example.com, leaving a comment beneath this post, or connecting with us via FacebookTwitter.
Our very best wishes,
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.
George Lowe, part of Edmund Hillary’s team that conquered Mount Everest in 1953, died on Wednesday at the age of 89. Obituaries can be read online – The Guardian‘s is here. There are now no living members of that pioneering expedition. Fortunately, their written accounts, the Conquest of Everest documentary, and various newsreels survive for future generations to enjoy. British Pathé sadly has no footage of the expedition itself (though there is material from earlier Everest expeditions), but we do have films celebrating the team members upon their return. You can view a selection here.
On the 3rd April, it will be the 80th anniversary of the First Flight over Everest. In 1933, a British team set off for the pioneering mission. Footage of the team can be found via this link.
The British Pathé archive also contains coverage of the 1924 expedition, the 1952 Swiss expedition, and the American expedition in the 1960s. All the Everest films can be found in this collection.
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.
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.
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 Year” collection 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A YouTube sensation! Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier, leaping from a balloon 24 miles above the ground.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Can you think of any more? Object to any of our choices? Leave us a comment.
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!
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.
There’s plenty in the British Pathé archive for those not so interested in history and British politics. For those more intrigued by science and technology, British inventions both good and bad got a great deal of coverage from the Pathé cinemagazines. More specifically, there are some fascinating clips concerning underwater exploration to be found within the Pathé collection as well as some more general underwater footage. Here are some highlights from our Underwater Adventures.
This is just a small selection of the types of clips on offer within the archive. More footage of undersea technology, wreck dives, marine biology and archaeology, and a great deal of fun can be found on our website.
Visit British Pathé’s collection of Underwater Adventures by clicking here.
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.
British Pathé has an extensive Space Exploration collection which often goes unmined. In this post, as part of our promotion of “Alternative Pathé“, we briefly summarise the contents of the collection and provide some links that might help you to begin your journey into the depths of the space-related archive.
Man long dreamed of setting foot on the moon. It formed the basis of a great deal of science fiction, such as in the work of H. G. Wells. But in the 1940s and 1950s, the possibility that space could be conquered increased, and with the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, the “Space Race” began.
Some early thinkers appear in the British Pathé archive. One film, “First Moon Men” sees Pathé meet with two scientists who have designed their own rocket and space suits in the hope that they might get to land on the moon themselves one day. The film dates from 1947. But more serious testing and design throughout the 1950s is also documented.
Project Mercury was designed to achieve manned American orbits of the Earth. Alan Shepard, John Glenn, and L Gordon Cooper were the lucky pioneers of this programme. But they were beaten by Yuri Gagarin, who became the first human in space in April 1961 aboard the Soviet space craft Vostok 1. In response, the Americans upped their game and President Kennedy announced that NASA “should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”.
Project Gemini was the next step – testing the technology and gaining the skills required to get man to the moon. This included the first American spacewalk by astronaut Ed White. The excellent footage can be seen here.
The Apollo missions which led on from these were the final stage in the Space Race – landing a man on the moon. It was not an auspicious start. The crew of Apollo 1, during a routine test on the launch pad, perished when a fire started and the trapped crew could not escape. A newsreelannounces the loss of the crew. But their deaths were not in vain and NASA continued its efforts to send mankind into space. There were some unmanned tests before Apollo 7became the first manned flight of the Apollo rocket and Pathé covered the launch, the mission itself, and the recovery of the crew from the ocean. Apollo 10 also features.
There’s a wealth of Apollo 11 footage within the archive, both in colour and black and white. It covers the preparations, the lift off, the journey to the moon, the landing, moon exploration, and the return to Earth. The celebrations around the world also get a great deal of coverage. For instance, in one film, the three astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, arrive in the United Kingdom for a tour and to meet the Queen: Astronauts Visit London (1969)
There were a further six Apollo missions. Apollos 15 and 16 do not seems to feature in any of the footage within the archive, but Apollo 12 does, and there is some silent Apollo 13 material.
There also appears to be a film from 1972 of an Apollo rocket on the launch pad. If this date is correct, then the footage is presumably of Apollo 16 or Apollo 17, the final manned mission to the moon.
This is where Pathé’s coverage of space exploration ceases. There is, sadly, nothing of Skylab, Hubble, or the International Space Station. There is, however, an episode of A Day That Shook The World, a BBC/British Pathé co-production, which documents the Challenger disaster, meaning that the British Pathé website does at least contain some brief material on the Space Shuttle programme.
But there is other material in the archive of interest not related to manned space flight. Some coverage of the interplanatary probes launched by both sides during the Space Race offers some early, pioneering views of our nearest neighbours. Unmanned missions are also documented, including, for example, the launch of Britain’s first satellite. The trips of other species into space also feature, including NASA’s “space monkeys” and the Soviet “space dogs”.
These space exploration clips are a real forgotten gem of the British Pathé archive. They provide a window into one of mankind’s greatest (and most expensive) achievements – a reminder of what we can accomplish when we really put our minds to it and set our hearts on it. What will be the next such effort?
A selection of British Pathé’s material on space exploration can be found by clicking here.
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 ofFamebring 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.
“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.)
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.
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.
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.
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!
The great British summer is here! You might not be able to tell from the sky but there lies a clue in the sudden splurge of diet fads and health initiatives. Food packaging and advertising that is suddenly noisy with buzz phrases like “summer glow”, “feel-good skin”, “beach body” and “shaping up for summer”. All that these companies really care about is your cash. They couldn’t care less if the WWF’s Whale Rescue Operations Team rush towards you the second you step onto the beach next month.
We here at British Pathe do care however. We may have closed our production doors in the 1970s, but that’s not to say we don’t have some darn good fitness tips for you. Britons have always been body-conscious and if anything we should know best because people looked a lot healthier in the past. Here are 5 archive favourites for you:
NUMBER 1: THE BATTLE OF THE BULGES (1941)
“Girls, after you’ve helped to win the war you’ll still have another battle on your hands – the battle of the bulges!”
This cheeky newsreels is essentially eye-candy for wartime soldiers, packaged by British Pathe under the guise of health and fitness advice. Sadly not many of us have a harness room full of metal wheels and rubber hoops to tone ourselves with, so let’s try another one…
NUMBER 2: EAT FAT AND GET SLIM (1958)
“Millions want to get back their youthful lines yet middle-aged spread remains unconquered. Eating fat is the latest theory!”
Way before the Atkins diet British Pathe was showcasing a no-carb all-fat diet that mimicked that of a neanderthal. This approach is still popular today. We love the British Pathe musical score on this one, and the fact that nothing has changed – “Every paper and magazine you pick up tells you how to do it”. But 50 years later and we’re still struggling, and the problem with Atkins diet is your can still join that ice-cream van queue on the beach…
NUMBER 3: EASY STEPS TO GET SLIM (1931)
“British Pathe present Edit Mezey, Hungarian Physical Culture Expert, showing you the best ‘slimming’ exercises”
Everyone loves a Hungarian Physical Culture Expert. This lovely 1930s workout video could teach Davina McCall a thing or two, firstly – wearing high heels! We love that the word slimming is put into inverted commas as if to say “Is this really a thing?” Let us know how you get on with the routine, we’re a bit worried you might develop an insane indelible smile though. Fourth time lucky…
NUMBER 4: SLIMMING BEDS (1966)
OK, we’re speechless. We’ve never seen anything that looks so painful! These springy machines that essentially look like perverted deckchairs are supposed to help the body stretch, tone and slim? They were most probably taken off the market after the first ten hip-replacement law cases came through. We’re left with one last chance of getting slim for summer…
NUMBER 5: MISS FAT AND BEAUTIFUL (1965)
Finally, our favourite approach! Just embrace who you are and stop worrying. Life’s too short!
This video “Miss Fat and Beautiful” is a celebration of curviness and having a bit of junk in the trunk. Some would argue these ladies aren’t even that fat by today’s supersize standards. Indeed, there are baffled Americans leaving comments beneath this video on YouTube like “What? Where are the fat people?”
Wherever you are going on holiday this summer, forget what anyone else thinks, roll out your beach fat with your beach mat, have a paddle, get stuck into a good book and just get on with enjoying those short-lived well-earnt summer days. Of course you can always enjoy a spot of looking at other peoples’ beautiful bodies whilst enjoying a cooling pint of lager, they wouldn’t have gone to all that effort if they didn’t want to be gawped at. And if you do really want to get slim then here is our British Pathe secret, don’t tell anyone else, we’ve never put it in a newsreel before:
THE SECRET: Wake up early, walk to work, drinks lots of water and stop eating crap after 8pm.
Today is the 100th anniversary of Franz Reichelt’s attempt to fly in Paris on the 4th February 1912. His choice of venue to demonstrate his solo flying contraption? The Eiffel Tower. The results? Not good.
British Pathé houses the shocking video of Franz Reichelt’s “Death Jump”. You can watch the only existing High Definition version that is viewable to the public for free on the British Pathé YouTube channel here:
The original canister notes are also a fascinating read and can be seen on our archive website here:
The video was never actually issued by British Pathé, perhaps due to its shocking nature as the video shows the exact second that Franz Reichelt dies as he plummets terrifyingly to his death, and the aftermath scene is rather shocking too as Parisien press members rush forward to measure the depth of the hole left by Franz Reichelt’s body.
However today this video is one of the most viewed British Pathé videos. A plethora of low-quality stolen versions appear on YouTube, but British Pathé are proud to have the best quality version of the reel on display.
We recently posted a compilation video of early helicopter footage onto our YouTube channel. The video uses eight different reels from the British Pathé film archive, and there are some others that didn’t make it into the final cut. The history of the helicopter and the quest for vertical flight in the early 20the century is a vast and interesting subject that was very well documented by British Pathé. We have to admit that in selecting footage for the YouTube video we went for a certain aesthetic, choosing images that “looked helicoptery!” when the truth is that there were several plane / helicopter hybrids such as the autogyro that pioneered for some years, as well as related projects such as zeppelin technology and bizarre prototypes for what would eventually become known as the hovercraft.
Here is an embedded version of the video and beneath it is links to the full length versions of each video used with the original Pathé title, dates and the length of the original reel (which you can watch for free by following the link).
A great clip that didn’t make it into the YouTube edit, this video shows men jumping out of helicopters from a height of several metres, and good close-up shows of a man manoeuvring a helicopter a little bit like an arcade game!
A Sikorsky S-51 helicopter is seen hovering over the Welsh hills in Croesor Valley, Festiniog. The YouTube edit uses a clip of the helicopter crashing and pilot Dennis Bryan leaving the vehicle seemingly unharmed before explaining what went wrong.
A great clip showing the first ever public helicopter service, like a bus service. We see a sign with information about the service and then footage of people waving the helicopter off into the distance.
For more helicopter clips please do conduct your own search in the British Pathe film archive. We recommend going to the homepage www.britishpathe.com and typing in “helicopter” into the search bar and then selecting the Sort By: Year option.
Today it’s the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s death in 1931. Much to our astonishment there are clips of Thomas Edison in the British Pathé film archive, and various fragments of his film work.
A film by Thomas Edison ‘The Forge’ appears, and is one of the oldest items in British Pathé’s entire archive, dating back to 1894, although the exact date is subject to an academic debate in film history circles.
Amy Johnson was a much- fêted and courageous English aviatrix. Back in the 1930s she set many ground breaking records, including being the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia. A heroine of her day, the Pathé cameras would often be waiting for Amy to commend and report on her achievements.
In 1933, during a flight from South Wales to the USA, Amy and her aviator husband, Jim Mollison, crash landed in Connecticut and according to our Pathé notes it was “after Husband ignored Wife’s advice to stop and refuel”. One would have thought this would have been significant advice and urgently acted upon in a 1930s aeroplane!
You can watch an interview with the couple after their crash landing. The pair are wheeled out in bath chairs to talk to the press. Jim, with a cigarette in his hand, resembles someone who has been in a considerable brawl. He calmly states, “we didn’t arrive in quite the way we anticipated”. One can only imagine what a wife would be saying to her husband after such an event….perhaps along the lines of ‘I did tell you we needed fuel”.
The extent of both Amy and Jim’s celebrated status at the time can be seen in this film where 200,000 New Yorkers turned out for an extraordinary ticker tape parade in their honour. If it wasn’t for the enormous bandage taped to Jim’s head, the parade could be mistaken for a Presidential inauguration party.
The last film we have of Amy is from 1939 when she swapped her aeroplane for a fast car and took part in the Monte Carlo car rally. Amy died on a short flight in 1941 when her plane came down miles off course in the Thames Estuary. She was just 38 years old. Many conspiracy theories and rumours surrounded her death at the time and even to this day there is still not a clear explanation as to what happened. For such an accomplished woman whose decorated career and movements were filmed by Pathé, it does seem strange we have no film in the archive mentioning the tragedy that befell her. However, at least we only have positive reminders of this British star.
Tinker, tailor, soldier, ejector seat guinea pig. It’s the sort of job a Briton just wouldn’t do these days, let alone in beautiful Buckinghamshire. But here they are, in broad 1950s daylight, rocketing men up towers of scaffolding to test ejector seats in Denham. As the narrator says – “You either like that sort of thing or you don’t”. Certainly, families part with a lot of money for similar experiences at funfairs and theme parks. Watch the lads playing with their ejector seat here, or see further below for unused reels from the same base. Ernest Greenwood and Toni Luchetti are noted in the canister notes as being two of the mechanics in the video.
Here in Philadelphia, they used giant safety nets to catch their ejected. Startling footage:
It’s 1964 now and we’re spending the afternoon with the Ministry of Defence in South Wales. Luckily they’re not ejecting unemployed actors this time, but crash dummies. When you see the speeds you’ll see why:
The video below shows an ejector seat in action in California. The pilot springs out of the aircraft, hurtles through the air in his chair and lands in the ocean. Thrilling archive footage:
For more ejection take a look in the British Pathe archive online at www.britishpathe.com or perhaps retro shop dummies are more your thing? It’s all in there!
Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space, 1963. Named Woman of the Century in 2000 by the International Women of the Year Association, Valentina is the only woman to have carried out a solo flight into space for over 3 days, and consequently has a crater on the moon named after her.
British Pathé seemed to take a great interest in this female cosmonaut’s celebrity and worldwide fame that came about following her successful mission.
Soon afterwards Valentina married another cosmonaut, sparking a media obsession with “The Cosmonaut Romance”. Valentina’s marriage to colleage Andrian Nikolayev came be seen in this wedding clip here, the narrator comments – “Even in the lives of cosmonauts, there’s space for love”
Valentina is now a retired cosmonaut who still makes appearances at international events and ceremonies. At the 2008 St. Petersburg Olympics Valentina became an official torchbearer in the torch relay.
Volcanoes never fail to make the news. These sleeping giants that populate various parts of the earth are dangerous, merciless and – despite advanced geology and knowledgeable modern-day volcanologists – their activity remains largely unpredictable.
British Pathé documented dozens of volcanic eruptions over the years, sending brave cameramen up the Martian terrain of these exploding beasts to capture priceless footage of lava flows and toxic ash. The clip above is some brilliant 1935 footage of Mount Vesuvius erupting.
The rather poetic narrator romanticises this famous volcano that gives “voice to the penned up energy of the powers of the earth”, and he continues to warn the viewers that “one false step means a dreadful death.” This footage is genuinely unique and yet only one clip amongst hundreds in the archive that relate to volcanoes. Expect more detailed volcano posts from us in future. For now, you can see 12 archive videos of volcanic eruptions here on the British Pathé Film Archive