Scott of the Antarctic

On Sunday, 10th February 2013, it will have been 100 years since Robert Falcon Scott and his colleagues Henry Bowers and Edward Wilson were discovered dead in their tent in the Antarctic, having failed to reach the South Pole nearly a year before. There’s some really interesting footage in the archive of Scott and the expedition, but much of it is contained within longer retrospectives. Here’s a brief summary of the material to help you locate it:

Film of the Terra Nova, the ship which took Scott to the Antarctic and returned without him, was some of the earliest footage that British Pathé released in cinemas. There is a clip of the ship leaving for the Antarctic in 1910 and one of it returning to Cardiff in 1913.

The Terra Nova
The Terra Nova

The classic series Time To Remember, produced by British Pathé in the late 1950s and early 1960s, contains some additional footage that can’t be found elsewhere in the archive. The material appears at the end of Reel 1 and the beginning of Reel 2. You can view the relevant portions of those reels here. Included is a nice close up of Scott himself and some remarkable film of the expedition.

Robert Falcon Scott in footage contained within an episode of Time To Remember.
Robert Falcon Scott in footage contained within an episode of Time To Remember.

“Here’s to the Memory” also has footage apparently filmed in the Antarctic. It features the men huddled on the ground for dinner and trekking through the barren landscape towards their goal. It appears towards the beginning of this section of the documentary.

Scott's Antarctic Expedition
Scott’s Antarctic Expedition
Having dinner.
Having dinner.

The expedition material was shot by Herbert Ponting, who accompanied Scott to the Antarctic with his camera. He survived and later produced the 1924 documentary, The Great White Silence.

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Pathé’s Undersea Antics

Continuing our series on “Alternative Pathé“…

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.

Filmmaker and explorer James Cameron recently dived the Mariana Trench. This newsreel documents the only other such trip - by the United States Navy in 1960. Click the still to view the film.
Filmmaker and explorer James Cameron recently dived the Mariana Trench. This newsreel documents the only other such trip – by the United States Navy in 1960. Click the still to view the film.
Using somewhat more primitive technology, a record dive was completed in 1934. Sponsored by the National Geographic Society, a record descent into the Atlantic was completed. Click the still to view the film.
Using somewhat more primitive technology, a record dive was completed in 1934, Sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Click the still to view the film.
Some pioneering technology can be seen in this 1960 footage of a new sub designed by the famous French explorer Jacques Cousteau. Click the still to view the film.
Some pioneering technology can be seen in this 1960 footage of a new sub designed by the famous French explorer Jacques Cousteau. Click the still to view the film.
Subs aren't always required however, and these eerie underwater images of HMS Breconshire, sunk by German aircraft in 1942, were taken by a scuba diver. Click the still to view the film.
Subs aren’t always required however, and these eerie underwater images from the deck of HMS Breconshire, sunk by German aircraft in 1942, were taken by a scuba diver. Click the still to view the film.
Relics are often recovered from such wrecks. This object comes from the Dunbar. Click the still to view the film.
Relics are often recovered from such wrecks. This object comes from the Dunbar. Click the still to view the film.
Divers aren't just interested in man-made wrecks. Footage in the archive covers underwater dinosaur bones, marine life and vegetation. There's a reasonable amount of colour clips too.
Divers aren’t just interested in man-made wrecks. Footage in the archive covers underwater dinosaur bones, marine life and vegetation. There’s a reasonable amount of colour clips too.
It's not all work and study though. There are many quirky clips of fun under the sea, including the underwater tea party seen in this still from the 1950s.
It’s not all work and study though. There are many quirky clips of fun under the sea, including the underwater tea party seen in this still from the 1950s.

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.

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Visit British Pathé’s collection of Underwater Adventures by clicking here.

Out of this World: The Pathé Space Archive

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.

Dreaming of the moon.

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”.

Yuri Gagarin. Click the still to view our “Hall of Fame” episode about the heroic cosmonaut.
John Glenn’s Mercury rocket.

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.

Gemini 11 mission.

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 newsreel announces 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 7 became 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.

The crew of Apollo 1
Inside Apollo 10. Click the still to view the film.
Neil Armstrong (1930 – 2012). Click the still to view our dedicated Neil Armstrong collection.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explore the moon.

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.

Apollo 12 blasts off.
The world hears that the Apollo 13 crew have returned safely.

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”.

“Space Monkeys” meet the press.
Mars, as seen from an American probe.

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.