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.

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.

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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.

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

www.britishpathe.com

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Tensions Over Gibraltar

Citizens of The Rock take to the streets to campaign during the referendum over the sovereignty of Gibraltar in 1967.
Citizens of The Rock take to the streets to campaign during the referendum over the sovereignty of Gibraltar in 1967.

British Pathé has footage related to the tensions between Spain and Britain over the sovereignty of The Rock. Most interestingly, there’s a clip on Spain clamping down on people crossing the border into Gibraltar. There’s also footage of the Queen visiting in 1954, despite Spanish objections, plus films covering the 1967 referendum.

Find all the clips via this link.

The archive also contains interesting material from the Falklands, in the news again recently as reports circulate that Argentina and Spain may join forces in opposing British overseas territorial claims at the United Nations. Negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands began in 1966 after a UN resolution the year before forced Britain to the table. For many years a succession of foreign secretaries attempted to promote the virtues of Argentine sovereignty, encouraging the Falklanders to submit. The reactions of the islanders to the opening of negotiations are plainly to be seen in this film.

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Our Falkland Islands collection includes coverage of the 1982 war.

www.britishpathe.com

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

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

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

The following may also be of some interest:

Boston Marathon

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

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Texas Fire

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

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

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The Queen’s Birthday

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

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

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www.britishpathe.com

This Week’s Anniversaries and News

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.

In other news…

The Korean War

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.

Key anniversaries…

Martin Luther King  (4 April)

Today: It is 45 years since the great civil rights activist Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. The British Pathé newsreel covering his death is here.

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Grand National  (6 April)

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.

Jim Clark Killed  (7 April)

 45 years: Jim Clark died on the Hockenheim Circuit in Germany in 1968. The newsreel announcing his death is  here.

www.britishpathe.com

Unknown Yom Kippur War films

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The British Pathé archive holds nearly 90,000 individual clips. Most of the descriptions you’ll see on the website were taken from handwritten notes, composed either by the cameramen at the time of filming or by former archivists decades ago. The notes were all fed into a computer database at the beginning of the new millennium. Some amendments were made at that time, and steadily since, but there is still much work to be done.

Due to the sheer number of films in the collection, there are a great many that our staff members will never have seen and perhaps never will. This means that we need the help of the public to ensure that the information displayed is accurate. We’ve been fortunate to receive a great many emails over the last few years with some really terrific and helpful corrections to the descriptions, but the volume of them means that we just can’t keep up with all of the necessary changes. In fact, we currently have a backlog of about five thousand!

We therefore launched a comment facility when our new website went live and we’ve just updated the system to make things easier for you. It allows any registered user to leave a comment beneath a clip (to register, just click “join” in the top right-hand corner – It takes a couple of seconds and is completely free of charge). We’re able to monitor all of the comments made, so eventually we’ll be able to correct the descriptions based on what you’ve shared – and, in the meantime, at least all of that information will be available for viewers in the comments section.

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Our new comments box

We want your help identifying dates, locations, people and events throughout the entire archive. But, just to get you going, we’re making a specific request for information about these films from the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

British Pathé only has a few clips from that conflict and we’re unclear about many of the details. If you know the dates, locations, types of tank and armoured vehicle, information about the troops, etc., do please leave a comment beneath the relevant clip.

We are very keen to make our archive as informative and comprehensive as possible. The details that you provide will be of use to future generations of historians, researchers, programme-makers, and members of the general public. Thank you for your help!

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For British Pathé’s collection of Yom Kippur material, click here.

For an interview with Moshe Dayan from around the same time, click here.