When the Falklands Were Forgotten

By James Hoyle, Archive Coordinator at British Pathé

Most people had probably never heard of the tensions between Britain and Argentina over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands before they were invaded on April 2nd 1982. Many people had probably never heard of the Falkland Islands at all. But history did not pass the Falklands by. Footage in the British Pathé archive details its involvement in the First World War and life on the islands in the 1960s, including the attitudes of the islanders towards Argentina.

The South Atlantic islands known by their inhabitants as the ‘Falklands’ lie 8,000 miles from the British mainland. It was Captain John Strong who first set foot there in 1690 and it was he who named them for Lord Falkland. After this, it gets a little complicated. When the British signed the Treaty of Utrecht, Spanish ownership of the islands was established. Regardless, both the French and the British soon placed settlements there, though the French subsequently handed their territory to Spain in 1767 and the British were evicted. From that point on, Spain held the islands until, in 1820, former Spanish colony Argentina claimed them as their own. But after a disagreement with the United States over sealing rights, the USS Lexington removed the Argentine settlers by force in 1831.  Soon after, the British took their place and have enjoyed sovereignty over the islands ever since, though Argentina has repeatedly requested the islands, which they call the ‘Malvinas’, back.

From that time until 1982, life on the Falklands was a mostly peaceful affair, with the exception of 8 December 1914 when the British and German navies clashed off the coast. The Germans, under Spee, planned to land on the islands to destroy the wireless station and pick up coal supplies, but when they arrived, the British were already there. In the ensuing battle, the Germans lost six of their ships and 1900 men, but the British fleet survived intact, with only 10 dead. This astonishing victory was celebrated in Britain and raised morale. Admiral Sturdee was proclaimed a hero and given a baronetcy in gratitude. Newsreels in the British Pathé archive mark the occasion of the victory, and pay tribute to Admiral Sturdee after his death in 1925. No further vessels or men would be lost over these islands for nearly 60 years.

Despite the short but fierce war fought between Britain and Argentina, outlined in British Pathé’s A Day That Shook The World series, in which Margaret Thatcher’s government successfully reclaimed the islands from Argentine invaders, public knowledge about the Falklands remains limited. A picture of what life was like there prior to the conflict can be seen in the footage taken by Pathé cameramen in the late 1960s.

By 1980, the population of the Falkland Islands was a mere 2000 people and declining. Even today there are only 3000 living there. An aerial view of Stanley, the only town, can be seen in the still above. The most numerous inhabitants by far live in the wild. Along with the sheep and horses that exist in the farms, there is also an abundance of birds and marine life. The most famous of these are undoubtedly the islands’ penguins, which earned their own dedicated British Pathé newsreel, in what might be the only footage that was used from the camera crew’s visit. Other newsreels from the early 1950 show Vancouver’s Stanley Park Zoo and its only collection of King Penguins existing in Canada, a gift from the Governor of the Falkland Islands.

Yet a great portion of the footage filmed by that 1969 camera crew is of the people living on the islands. There are many unknown faces in these silent clips, and it would be fascinating to hear about them and their experiences during the later Argentine invasion. In the clips though, life on the Falklands appears relatively tranquil. Men and women go about their daily routines, working in the sea, loading cargo onto ships, herding sheep, and so on.

We also get a glimpse of the leisure activities engaged in, with families turning out to witness a local game of football.

But an ever-present British warship, the Leander-class H.M.S. Arethusa, is a reminder of the tensions over the islands and its disputed sovereignty. Although to many on the British mainland, the Falklands conflict came as a surprise, the tensions over the issue of sovereignty were felt long before on the islands themselves. The same 1960s footage of the islands contains many glimpses of just how strongly the inhabitants felt more than a decade before the war.

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 the following stills from the 1969 footage.

Images such as these were captured by the Pathé camera crew in Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. In the footage, which seems to have never made it into a finished newsreel or cinemagazine, signs and graffiti revealing the Falkland Islanders’ desire to remain British are ever present.  These displays appear in shop windows and outside houses, placed as stickers in car windows, or painted on the side of buildings or scrawled on the side of a plane.

It would be interesting to know exactly who these signs were meant for. Presumably they are aimed at the Pathé camera crew, or some other visitors rather than at the other islanders.

Sadly, the Argentines soon felt the negotiations were going nowhere and that their unpopular government might be saved by waging war against British colonialism, reclaiming islands they believed to be legally theirs. War ensued and 907 people lost their lives.

During this 30th anniversary year (the war lasted from 2 April to 14 June 1982), it is interesting to look back not just on that terrible conflict, but also on the years leading up to it, and reflect upon what the future may also bring.

For British Pathé’s collection of pre-war Falklands footage and A Day That Shook The World episodes for the British taskforce setting sail and the sinking of the HMS Sheffield, click here.

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1960s Teen Idols: Life Before Lady Gaga

In 1967 the Daily Mail conducted a survey to establish who teenagers idolised

Although Hollywood was already a strong force and pop music had major clout over kids’ imaginations, it was still a very different world to the celebrity-driven egomaniacal world that we live in today. Supermarkets were new, televisions were only just becoming commonplace and teenagers weren’t as image-conscious as you can see from the video. It’s amazing who British teenagers voted as their top 10 idols:

1. Their Mothers

That’s right. Teenagers voted Mum as their number one role model, a warm and family-focused gesture from a generation who perhaps depended more on their parents to receive information and education than young people do today.

2. The Queen

The recent royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton proved just how popular the monarchy is, yet a teenage poll in 2011 would never rank The Queen so highly. Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham and Jordan would be much more likely candidates.

3. Sir Francis Chichester

Sailing around the world was seen as such an astonishing feat in the 1960s it was basically science-fiction. It’s incredible how venerated these solo explorers were. (Good clip: 500,000 people greet Francis Chichester upon his return to Plymouth)

4. Mr Wilson

Prime Minister Harold Wilson was voted 4th biggest icon to teenagers in 1967, remarkable! We wonder where teenagers today would place David Cameron? Probably three hundred and forty-eight places beneath rapper Dizzee Rascal.

5. Their Fathers

Good old Dad, in at fifth place, not quite as cool as the Prime Minister evidently. Still, defying Freud nevertheless.

6. President Johnson

It seems even back then in 1967 teenagers were aware how chained British politics was to activities across the Atlantic. Interestingly, Barack Obama could well feature on a list of teen idols today, the first African American President and more liberal than his predecessor.

7. “Young husband”

We don’t understand this one? Presumably teenagers didn’t have husbands. Is it a person called Younghusband? We can’t keep up. Do leave a comment below if you think you can help us out here, thanks!

8. Elvis

The first pop star on the list, it’s Elvis alright, shown here with his bride Priscilla. Elvis is still an icon today, although perhaps not a role model that teenagers relate to. Still, he’s the first entertainment sector entrant on his list, a sign of times to come. (Good clip: Elvis weds Priscilla in 1967)

9. U Thant

Who on earth is U Thant? He was the United Nations Secretary. We’re starting to think teenagers’ Dads filled the questionnaire out now. Admittedly they were Daily Mail readers, still, could any teenager in Britain name the current UN Secretary? What about the current presenters of T4? As we thought.

10th equal. Prince Philip

Prince Philip, a teen icon. Now 89 years old we think it’s fair to assume teenagers wouldn’t place him up there in 2011, although he’s definitely cooler than Will.I.Am.

10th equal. Bobby Charlton

Bobby is still seen as a legend and a hero thanks to the 1966 World Cup victory. We’re sure David Beckham would rank today, and of course footballer Ronaldo, although both are businessmen and fashionistas as much as they are footballers, and neither men have achieved anything on the pitch to compare to Sir Charlton. (Good clip: World Cup Final 1966, colour footage)

If you were a teenager in the 1960s who would you vote to be your 10 role models and/or icons? We’d definitely have Mick Jagger, Brigitte Bardot and David Hockney in there. And what if you were a teenager today, in 2011? Would you vote into the top 10? A few suggestions from the staff at British Pathé: Lady Gaga, Prince William, Rihanna and Karen Brady. Goodness.

WATCH THE REEL HERE: Britain’s Top With The Teens (1967)

Watch over 90,000 archived newsreels for free on www.britishpathe.com

“I am not a number. I am a free man!” – Pathé Visits Portmeirion, Home of The Prisoner

“Today’s ice cream flavour is strawberry. Make sure to get yours from the kiosk this afternoon!”

There are a few fans of cult 60s TV series The Prisoner here at British Pathé, many of us had our own VHS recordings stashed away long before recent DVD box sets and Hollywood remakes. So we were delighted to discover that we have two clips of The Prisoner’s setting Portmeirion in North Wales, thanks to the blog Liberal England.

Take a look at these:

Portmeirion – Beauty And The Beast (1939)

Italy In Wales – Portmeirion Travelogue [Colour] (1962)

Both pre-date The Prisoner and it is clear to see that the village is already a thriving and quirky tourist destination, they’re even selling barmy Prisoner-esque hats! Everything is uttterly camp and ornate.

The later clip includes a very rare shot of Portmeirion’s architect and curator, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis sitting on a mosaic terrace whilst a group of men install a busk. He talks on the narration of the video too, and we see an anonymous artist painting a scene in The Village. British Pathé announces in the clip: “Literary imaginations in particular have thrived here; Shaw, Wells, A.P. Herbert and Noel Coward have all been inspired by this foreign beauty”

According to the 1920s reel, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis was yachting when he discovered the pine-covered valley. “All the warmth of a Mediterranean setting has been brought to Wales” boasts the narrator, who tells us that the doorways are made from the timbers of famous British warships. Lovely shots of the statues that “lending extra colour to The Village” can be seen too. “Linking imagination with artistry, Portmeirion is a resort that has an irresistible attraction to the more fastidious type of visitor”

Williams-Ellis was educated at the famous British public school Oundle and then went on to Trinity College, Cambridge although never graduated. Other works include the summit building on Snowdon, and he spent time living with the boys at Stowe school. Stowe’s website tells us:

“When J F Roxburgh came as first Headmaster with 99 boys, he was determined that this was the first of the new public schools to bring education and fair treatment into the 20th century. He was resolute that every pupil leaving Stowe would “know beauty when he sees it all his life.” Amateur architect, Clough Williams-Ellis, later of Portmeirion fame, was instrumental in turning an empty, 18th-century palace into a boarding school.”

Perhaps then William-Ellis appears in this Pathé clip of The Queen opening Stowe School:

England’s Youngest Public School (1927)

Portmeirion really is a wonderful village and a feat of British architecture. For more information, and for lovely hotel retreats there visit the official website here: http://www.portmeirion-village.com/

Be seeing you!

Dressed To Kill – An Avengers Themed Fashion Show

Who said fashion shows had to be morose? In 1965 fashion legend Jean Varon took the popular television series The Avengers (starring a young Joanna Lumley) as his source of inspiration and had models conducting theatrical fights on the runway! Varon’s innovative designs often drew from contemporary artists from the period, notably the Op-Artist Bridget Riley, although it is his daring leather catsuits that the fashion world remembers him most fondly for. He even dressed Diana Rigg in one!

Click on the still above to watch our fantastic clip from this 1965 catwalk show. Having thrown a man to his apparent death, the model then continues to strut down the catwalk nonchalantly while a bemused frontrow of Sloan Street fat cats sit by and watch with crossed legs and cigars. The footage contains some brilliant pieces from Jean Varon’s 1965 collection, particularly a “bull’s-eye dress”.

The clips also shows Jean Varon’s dog range, then known as his “poodle pants”. 50 years before Paris Hilton the London fashion scene went crazy for dressing up their doggies!

For a collection of fashion videos from the British Pathé archives click here

To read a short biography on Jean Varon visit his page on The Fashion Spot