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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is underway in Brazil. At Pathé, some of us are football crazy – others less so! But whether you like your footie or not, there are some stories in the Pathé archive of interest to all. So, if you love football or just don’t want to feel left out of the conversation, here are some essential videos from Pathé’s vintage World Cup coverage.
British Pathé has excellent coverage of the 1966 World Cup in fabulous Technicolor. The match, between England and West Germany, took place at Wembley. Note how the English and German fans are intermingled.
Incredibly, there almost wasn’t a trophy to give England that year. The Cup was stolen, only to be discovered wrapped in newspaper on a London street by a dog called Pickles. This Pathé film shows Pickles getting his reward. Sadly, Pickles died the following year.
This 1966 film shows footballs being made in Yorkshire for the World Cup. A surprisingly interesting look at something most of us never really give much thought to.
For those of you less enamoured with the great game (like your author – sorry, football fans!), if friends or colleagues mention a game from pre-1966 (unlikely) or from the post-Pathé era (quite likely), don’t panic! Just nod and say, “That was a very memorable match” – this can be used for both good and bad games. You’ll blend right in.
For those who want to delve more deeply into the Pathé archive than 1966, the company’s coverage of other World Cup years was more limited, but there are some good films, especially of qualifying matches. You can find every Pathé World Cup film in this collection on our website.
This weekend (Saturday 4th January 2014), Bolton Wanderers will play Blackpool in the third round of the FA Cup at the Reebok Stadium.
61 years ago, these two teams competed against each other in the 1953 FA Cup Final (the “Matthews Final”), with Blackpool coming out on top. The British Pathé archive has original newsreel coverage of that match. Click here to take a look.
We also have some silent footage from the game that never made it into the final edited newsreel:
The archive holds a great many other FA Cup matches, including nearly every Final from 1920 to 1970, and all of these are viewable on the British Pathé website. A good tip: Don’t put the year of the match in the search box. Search for the team and filter by date afterwards using the year slider.
60 years:The signing of the truce in 1953 was covered by Pathé News and the original newsreel can be viewed here. The archive also has additional material from the Korean War, including combat footage. Here’s a selection.
This weekend, the 2013 Grand National race will be held at Aintree. The sometimes controversial competition (equine deaths are common, and you can read CNN’s interesting article here) has a long history, and British Pathé has footage dating back to 1919.
One of the most famous races is that of 1967, which included perhaps the most notorious pile up in Grand National history. Foinavon had odds of 100/1 to win the race. Even his owner Cyril Watkins did not both to attend Aintree because the chances of a win were wholly improbable. As expected, Foinavon did not play a competitive part in the race until at the 23rd fence, a loose horse cut across the riders causing all the horses to either fall, unseat their riders or refuse to jump. Foinavon and his rider, John Buckingham, are so far behind that they manage to bypass the shambles, jump the fence and take a lead of 200 yards. Although most riders were able to remount, no one managed to quite catch up with horse and rider, and no owner or trainer was in the winner’s enclosure to congratulate them!
Explore a chronological list of British Pathé’s Grand National collection here.
The Rolling Stones have announced that they will be returning to Hyde Park in the summer for the first time in 44 years. The last time they performed there it was 1969, and Pathé’s coverage of the concert can be viewed here.
Tensions between North Korea and its Southern neighbour continue. British Pathé footage of the Korean War may be of relevance.
UK now made up of 7 classes
New research has revealed that the “working”, “middle”, and “upper class” model of British society is no longer adequate and that in fact there are 7 classes in Britain today. The British Pathé archive highlights class differences during the Twentieth Century. Some of the most interesting films can be viewed here.
The 2013 Grand National will be held this weekend. British Pathé has coverage of many Grand Nationals from as early as 1919, including Foinavon’s famous victory in 1967. Explore the collection via this link.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
Earlier in January, the Football Association kicked off celebrations to mark its 150th anniversary.
The FA was established in 1863 and codified the modern rules of that great English sport. Not too long after, in 1871, the very first FA Cup match was held. Sadly, this was too early to be captured by motion picture cameras and the first FA Cup material photographed by British Pathé seems to be some shots of the winning 1914 Burnley team (they beat Liverpool 1-0). The earliest actual in-game footage, though, appears in the clip “ASTON VILLA WIN English Cup for the sixth time – defeating Huddersfield in Cup Final by a lucky goal after extra time”. The film dates from 1920. Almost all of the Cup Final matches were covered by British Pathé from that date on, until the company finished newsreel production in 1970. A collection of the films can be explored here, in date order.
As well as coverage of the FA Cup, the British Pathé archive holds a wealth of other great games and classic football moments. Simply searching for “football” on our website brings up an astonishing 2333 clips – far too many to detail here! But some particularly interesting material can be found via these links:
Brazilian footballer Edison Arantes do Nascimento (or “Pele”) performed so well at the 1958 World Cup Final v Sweden that it was documented in an episode of A Day That Shook The World. Click here to view the episode.
The year before, it was the Hungary team which was scoring with exceptional skill. Ferenc Puskas, that legendary player and coach, was playing against England when he scored this terrific goal. Click here to view the film.
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!
As we mentioned in late November, we’re now doing a regular blog post pointing out events or anniversaries coming up that the archive holds some relevant footage for. So here are our picks over the next two weeks, encompassing the Christmas period…
55 years ago, the “King”was drafted into the United States Army. British Pathé has footage of Elvis Presley as he began his tour of duty, as well as a newsreel announcing that he had left the army a few years later. Watch them here.
2012, if we do indeed survive the predicted apocalypse, will be remembered for many things, but without a doubt it will be considered London’s year. The Diamond Jubilee, the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics all centred on the great city and were enormously successful. (Click the links on those events to see related footage in the British Pathé archive, including the 1908 and 1948 London Olympics.) As a tribute to 2012 and to London, we’re sharing with you themed collections of clips from the city’s past, whether heart-warming or chilling. Explore London as a political, musical, theatrical, busy, fun, popular and tragic place. Click the links below to take a look.
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.
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.
We’ve just added some exciting new videos from the British Pathe archive onto our YouTube channel SportingHistory! Here they are:
First-up is a great basketball montage that runs from the 1930s all the way up into the end of the 1960s. We love the vintage basketball kits and the crowd shots. We added some of the music ourselves using a bit or rumba and tap from the archive…
Hip-hopping and Globetrotting
Still crazed on the history of basketball we dug out this exciting video of the Harlem Globetrotters (a basketball superstar team) playing France in Paris, in 1950. Again, we love those shorts…
If you’re a fan of basketball and the history of the sport you can find more great videos on our Basketball History page.
Wheels of fire
Here we have some kind of sexy cool Roller Skate race in what looks like the French Riviera but is listed in the canister notes as Palermo in Italy. The guys race around town on their skates, but lookout for the dangerous fall at the end:
How to test an AmericanFootball helmet
This video about the invention of the American Football helmet is absolutely hilarious, we just couldn’t believe it when we saw it. And how does he fit all of his crazy scientist hair into that thing…
A friend of the archive sent in a link to a Herald Tribune interview with 82-year-old Bill Crawford, discussing his fame as a balloon stunt child star. Crawford used to hang for dear life onto a giant balloon and hop all over his home town of Bradenton, and our friend was convinced they’d seen a video of this in the British Pathe film archive. We’re thrilled to say that yes, we do have a video of little Bill Crawford flying balloons at the tender age of just 4! We’ve uploaded the video onto our YouTube sister channel Sporting History so that you can all embed it into your own blogs, share it and enjoy it. Here’s the video:
Remember all 90,000 British Pathe reels are searchable and viewable for free on www.britishpathe.com
If you find anything too good to keep to yourself then you can share it on our Facebook page, or share it with us on Twitter @britishpathe
Today is the 45th anniversary of daredevil speed engineer Donald Campbell’s tragic death on Coniston Water in the Lake District, Great Britain. Campbell was only 45 years olds, he was attempting to break the landspeed record by breaking the 300 mph barrier. For decades Donald Campbell was a childhood pin-up to boys in Britain and around the world, and he had been a popular subject for British Pathé who filmed many of his world record attempts.
So popular was Campbell that when he crashed his vehicle Bluebird at Coniston Water British Pathé rushed to push a newsreel out to cinemas as soon as possible, and so they issued a Pathé News Special simply announcing the news of his death. They then followed this up with a more dramatic piece showing the crash itself.
In the Pathé News Special from 1967 the narrator announces “Donald Campbell the man who lived for speed is dead… his love for speed has cost him his life. During the past few weeks he was dogged by misfortune. Early engine trouble forced him to hold off a record attempt, then the weather was against him.. Pictures of the last tragic moments at Coniston are being rushed to this theatre!”
And here is that footage, a second newsreel issued by British Pathé called Fate Stepped In:
The macabre newsreel has an unusually shaky start as we hear the final words and sounds of Donald Campbell over the top of a blank screen, a rather sensationalist move on Pathé ‘s part. The Pathé narrator then explains how the conditions were actually quite smooth, but the night before Campbell “drew the Ace and Queen of Spades, the deadly shadow of remorseless fate – he was a superstitious man”.
It’s bizarre now to see a newsreel that is so speculative and melodramatic in its tone, but this style of news delivery has maintained itself partially across the decades. Although newsreaders are more regimented and factual today it is still quite common to see an on-location news anchor rounding up a reports with a relatively creative ending, perhaps incorporating a literary quote or an epigram. British Pathé was a forbearer of that emotive style.
Leading up to the crash scene we see incredible close-up shots of Donald Campbell’s vehicle bluebird setting off across Coniston. From 01:45 the lead up to the crash is shown, Bluebird speeding across the surface of the lake when suddenly it lifts into the air, flips and smashes down.
The narrator talks of Donald Campbell’s legacy as the newsreel ends with shots of the Bluebird K7’s wreckage and Campbell’s family and friends collecting pieces of debris.
To see British Pathe’s collection of all 16 Donald Campbell newsreels, including footage of his many fantastic world records, see below:
It was the first times Wales has beaten England in over 17 years. An exciting piece of 1950s football footage with great crowd shots conveying the anxiety and ecstasy of the fans, in the hectic match Welsh centre-forward John Charles even scores an own-goal with his head at one point.
“Even the war hasn’t affected the billiard table smoothness of the Wembley grass… Wales are buzzing around the English goal like bees round a honey pot”
After a fairly equal start Wales suddenly smash Britain with goal after goal. A brilliant 1930s football reel from Pathé with great quality close-up shots for the period. Some of the details are fantastic too – look out for the giant cigarettes advert on the stadium’s roof!
A mute clip of course as we’re now way back in the 1920s! Lovely shots of the teams coming out of the tunnel, and of players congratulating and cordially shaking hands with the Welsh player upon scoring a goal.
MORE WALES Vs. ENGLAND FOOTAGE:
There are considerably more reels of Wales being defeated by England, and so rather than go into them individually we’ve put them all together for you on this page here:
We were confused by this Norwich City FA Cup video from 1958-9 earlier. Why is there a giant alphabet running across the side of the pitch? Is it a clever advertising campaign? Is it to demonstrate the availability of the advertising space? Or did the cameramen paint over the negatives to block advertising that they caught on camera?
None of these ideas are the case.
No, friend of British Pathe and Sports Editor of Guardian.co.uk, Sean Ingle, came forwards on Twitter today with the answer… it’s an early scoring system!
Sure enough, we Googled “Alphabet scoreboards football” and found this helpful paragraph on the website www.joinmust.org:
“There were 26 boxes marked with a letter of the alphabet. Below each individual letter was a door that opened and had the facility for two cards to be inserted, one in the top half, and one in the bottom half. In the match programme on the back page would be the day’s football fixture and each game would have a letter of the Alphabet adjoining it. These letters would be matched to the letters on the scoreboard and at half time, when the doors of the boxes on the scoreboard were opened and the cards inserted, the top number would show the home team’s score and the bottom number would show the away team’s score. At full time, the process would be repeated and fans would know the results of most matches that were played that day.”
We’re yet to find out when this system was scrapped. Was it because the alphabet blocks were taking up too much priceless advertising space? Or was it because football fans found a better method of learning the day’s results? For Norwich City fans. Enjoy these great vintage Norwich City clips.
FINALLY! The World Cup has started, with a 1-1 draw between South Africa and Mexico, the two weeks fo football mania are underway. As a celebratory gift to our readers we’ve put together 10 of our favourite World Cup archive videos. Not just winning goals, this video playlist of World Cup moments encapsulates the true spirit of the game, from sombrero-wearing English supporters on tour, to the Queen’s most elegant 1966 opening ceremony speech. Enjoy these clips and make sure to share them with your fellow England fans:
How could we not?! Although this is rare technicolour clip. The ultimate World Cup archive clip. British Pathé own this rare colour footage. Great Technicolor clips of Bobby Moore and Uve Steeler, great close-up of Jackie Charlton laughing and of course, the winning team England holding up the cup!
Tomorrow will be the 47th anniversary of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s Everest conquest. Still an impressive feat today, it is hard to conceive just how famous Hillary was following his successful expedition to the summit of the world’s highest mountain. Amost every world leader was popping the kettle on for Hillary, welcoming him into their palaces, temples, castles and luxury villas with open arms. British Pathé followed Edmund Hillary on his incredible 1953 publicity tour, and here are links to some of the footage they captured:
Sir Edmund passed away in 2008. As well as the clips highlighted in this blog post there are tonnes of old newsreels and videos related to Everest, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, and mountain climbing videos in general. So make sure to browse the archive.
Only this month rugby hero Josh Lewsey failed to climb Everest, abandoning a group expedition in which only 4 members made it to the summit. Josh explained to BBC News that he was daunted by the physical challenge but also psychologically upset by the dead bodies they had to pass along the way, including one explorer who had died only 2 days before. The fact that internationally appraised rugby stars cannot faces the slopes of Everest go to show just how brave and skilled Hillary was, to achieve such a feat in the early 1950s.
The Grand Prix started in 1894, British Pathé started in 1897, and so naturally a strong media partnership evolved between the two companies. British Pathé were there on the side of the road filming the hottest Grand Prix races of the 20th century. British Pathé cameramen were at all the after parties too, talking to the it-girls as they swooned and crooned for a racing driver boyfriend, or even a Royal marriage. British Pathé were also sadly there to film the crashes, the flips, the Formula 1 knife edge between life and death when a strong swerve sent things spiralling out of control.
One major area of the archive that we’re working on at the moment is tennis. After all, Wimbledon will soon be upon us and British Pathé are one of the only film archives to both own Wimbledon footage AND let the public watch it all for free online. We don’t see the point in being a dragon sat on a pile or reels, and so here you, have all of our Wimbledon videos and enjoy them with some strawberries and cream. To get you in the mood see our 1970s interview with tennis legend Fred Perry.
Fred Perry speaks in more gentrified and morose tone that I expected. He told British Pathe about himself –
“I was a strange breed of cat. I was a loner and if I may use such a word on television – I was bloody minded about the whole thing. I had won the Table Tennis Championship in 1929 in Budapest, and never played again. I said to myself ‘right from now on nothing I do will interfere with my tennis’. I played soccer and cricket at school, I was an even worse than bad wicket keeper, the ball was too hard. I started to play tennis, fiddling around in Ealing, and in 1929 I got into Wimbledon.
In the interview Fred Perry talks honestly about rivalry, bitching and the conflicts and injustice between private and state schools at a youth level. It really is an asset and a general strength of film archives, to present the public with interviews and insight into the lives of those who are no longer alive. Nothing beats hearing it from the sportsman’s mouth.
Fred Perry passed away in 1995. Read a bit about his life on his Wikipedia page here, including details of his celebrity relationships which boast a host of glamour actresses including Marlene Dietrich.
British Pathé are involved in all sorts of projects alongside running the world’s finest digital archive, one of which is the production of specialist DVDs. With so much momentous footage we try our hardest to ensure that the general public are fully of aware of our archive’s cinematic wealth.
The latest in our successful line of DVDs is ‘The Greatest England Games 1920-1966’ – a 130 minute tour-de-force of England football’s finest moments, narrated by the utterly famous Barry Davies. Maybe you’re a fan of football, maybe you need to buy a gift for a friend, or maybe you need to act quickly before Father’s Day springs itself upon us once again. Whatever you’re situation, you can’t go wrong with this classy collection of timeless footage.
The notorious 1966 England World Cup Victory is depicted in colour, a feat that only the British Pathé film archive can boast and just one example of the brilliant clips to feature in this British Pathé production. This DVD takes the viewer on a flavoursome journey that includes the opening of the Wembley Stadium, the effects of World War II on football, and great clips of Billy Wright, Bobby Charlton, Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews and Duncan Edwards.
We were searching body builders in the archive today for one of our clients and suddenly stumbled across this freak discovery – a mega rare clip or Arnold Schwarzenegger in a 1966 contest. The star is only 19 years old in this clip, and yet his muscles are already titanic! “What a super sight” the narrator staggers as the reel’s first scene shows about two dozen 1960s muscle men standing on stage looking as casual as their biceps permit. This is of course the international body building contest, where men have muscles “that the average man has never heard of”.
Bizarrely the narrator declares that such muscles would be “wasted on a girl”. Arnold Schwarzenegger sadly doesn’t win the contest and the title is won by a much older looking man. The shots of bemused female spectators are priceless, with their beady bespectacled eyes and 60s fashion trends.
Clips like this are one of the many strengths of the British Pathé film archive – footage that was shot for a particular reason in its own day but comes to hold a cultural status and historical insight that the reel’s production team never could have imagined.
We all like a good bet at the Grand National, even if we have no interest in horse racing! Now in its 171st year, many of us will be traipsing down to our local bookies on Saturday morning to put money on a horse because we either like the name of it or we have an inkling it is going to make us lots of money…
Our archive has a lot of Grand National footage but there are certainly some films which fifty/sixty years on are still exciting and excruciating to watch. Take the 1956 Grand National where the late Dick Francis gallops towards the finish line on HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s horse, Devon Loch. Dick is just yards away from the finish line and is undoubtedly about to win the race when suddenly Devon inexplicably jumps up and falls to his stomach. It was as if he thought there was a fence in front of him! ESB who was behind, swoops past Devon Loch who is still scrambling to his feet and wins the Grand National. The Queen Mother famously said, “Oh that’s racing” and Dick Francis retired from racing the following year and became a crime writer!
The 1967 Grand National was the scene of one the most notorious pile ups in Grand National history . Foinavon had odds of 100/1 to win the race. Even his owner Cyril Watkins did not both to attend Aintree because the chances of a win were wholly improbable. As expected, Foinavon did not play a competitive part in the race until at the 23rd fence, a loose horse cut across the riders causing all the horses to either fall, unseat their riders or refuse to jump. Foinavon and his rider, John Buckingham, are so far behind that they manage to bypass the shambles, jump the fence and take a lead of 200 yards. Although most riders were able to remount, no one managed to quite catch up with horse and rider. Sadly no owner or trainer were in the winners enclosure to congratulate them!
It’s that time of year again – the notorious river feud between the world’s two most famous universities Oxford and Cambridge. We’ve slaved away behind the scenes for you in our archive and put together a comprehensive reel package so that you can watch the famous race through the years. It’s interesting to see the changing looks of the rowers over the decades, from old to young, broad to lean, and not to mention the everchanging kits from 1920s-style frumpy long scarves to the romantic white blouse-like attire of the glistening 70s. Take a look at the Boat Race archive area here.