55 years ago, from 29th August – early September, the streets of London witnessed what Pathé News at the time rightly labelled a “shameful episode”. More than three hundred people suddenly attacked West Indian immigrants living on Bramley Road in Notting Hill, London.
British Pathé produced a short newsreel on the attacks. The film has a very different tone to the sort of news broadcasts one would see on television today, at least in Britain. It is an angry denunciation of the riots, containing a particularly powerful commentary which is worth repeating in full:
Something new and ugly raises its head in Britain. In Notting Hill Gate, only a mile or two from London’s West End – racial violence. An angry crowd of youths chases a negro into a green grocer shop while police reinforcements are called up to check the riot, one of many that have broken out here in a few days. The injured victim, a Jamaican, is taken to safety. But the police have not been able to reach all the trouble spots so promptly and the quietest street may flare up at any moment. The most disturbing feature of the riots is the suspicion that not all the troublemakers are locals, for some of the gangs who break windows or throw bottles or burning torches have arrived by car. Opinions differ about Britain’s racial problems. But the mentality which tries to solve them with coshes and broken railings hasno place in the British way of life. This violence is evil and the law and public opinion must stamp it out.
Helicopters have matured from unsteady, erratic machines that struggled to lift the pilots off the ground, into stylish contraptions with exceptional flying capabilities. Pathé recorded some of these early trials in which inventors desperately tried to get their machines to get off the ground.
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.
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.
Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, the younger brother of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, has died aged 44. He had been in a coma since February 2012 when he was caught up in an avalanche in Austria.
There is footage from the announcement of his birth in the archive, though unfortunately there is no sound. In the clip, the baby prince is shown off to the Mayor, witnesses, the doctor and the press at the hospital and the baby’s name is registered (Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David van Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg) at Utrecht Town Hall.
British Pathé also filmed his christening in December 1968.You can view the film, released in cinemas by British Pathé in January 1969, here.
British Pathé captured many extraordinary events on film over its 80 year history but sometimes the cameras were switched on when tragedy struck. From Franz Reichelt’s death jump off the Eiffel Tower to the Hindenburg Disaster, here are 10 tragedies caught on film.
For more information about these incidents, you can visit our gallery here.
The British Pathé Archive is the world’s finest digital news collection. All 90,000 clips are available to view online for free. Visit www.britishpathe.com
One of our archivists has set up a new blog site dedicated to the best images from the British Pathé collection. There’s only a few up there so far, but with a new one added each day, it’ll be sure to quickly become quite a gallery.
Unlike the company’s Facebook or Pinterest pages, the images on the new blog, Archivist @ British Pathé, are shown free of all description or context, allowing the images to speak for themselves. Some of them, out of context, seem really quite bizarre! Which is, of course, part of the fun. Take this one – “A Bath With A View” (1931). But each image has a link to the original newsreel which you can watch online and find out what it’s all about and see if you’ve guessed correctly.
We hope you enjoy the images. Take a look at the new blog here.