This weekend, HMS Belfast, the famous ship which has inhabited the Thames since 1971 as a museum, will celebrate the 75th anniversary of her launch. The Royal Navy cruiser was launched on 17th March 1938 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland. British Pathé has footage of the occasion in its archive, which can be viewed here. The launch can be found mid-way through the clip, which begins as an item about Mrs Chamberlain opening a new airport (though due to the fact that some footage has gone missing, the clip doesn’t feature Mrs Chamberlain at all!)
As well as the launch, there are some additional films in which HMS Belfast makes an appearance. The most substantial is an item about Royal Navy cadets taking the ship to Gibraltar. The 1963 newsreel, “Cadets Try Sea Life“, features some nice shots of HMS Belfast and the cadets lined up on her deck for her departure from Portsmouth.
There are two other films of note: “Tanganyika Independent“, about the celebrations for the independence of Tanganyika (later Tanzania) in 1961, shows HMS Belfast lit up at night in the harbour. “Royal Navy Ships“, filmed some time in the 1940s, shows some crew members messing around with an HMS Belfast lifebuoy.
There are also four items from the 1970s which show HMS Belfast on the Thames. You can find the films in this collection. British Pathé stopped releasing newsreels in February 1970 (see our History of British Pathé), and so much of the material in the archive from that decade is silent, unedited, and never released. This HMS Belfast footage is a good example, but the films are an enjoyable watch due to some beautiful aerial views of London and the River Thames.
HMS Belfast saw action in the Second World War, beginning with the arctic convoys. She also took part in the Battle of North Cape and the Normandy landings. Later, she was used in the Korean War. In the 1970s she became a museum ship and has been visited by scores of tourists and history-lovers ever since. It’s worth a visit if you’ve never been.
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:
Last night, the BBC aired a special edition of its popular Countryfile series, guest-edited by Prince Charles. Reviews today have been good and it seems there is agreement that the Prince came out of the programme very well. Do watch the episode on iPlayer if you get a chance (link).
If you saw the programme, you’ll remember that Prince Charles was shown some archive footage of his time at Balmoral in his youth to stir up some memories.
The footage was from a British Pathé film, “Balmoral Holiday” (1957), which can be viewed in full here. Some additional clips shown to the Prince came from these cuts from a 1955 piece “Royal Family On Holiday”. The completed film can be seen too, here.
The “delightfully informal” footage shows Charles and his family enjoying the countryside, feeding the animals, and spending some time with each other away from their tiresome ceremonial duties.
North Korea has terminated any peace agreements made during the Korean War.
The signing of the original truce in 1953 was covered by Pathé News and the newsreel can be viewed here. The archive also has additional material from the Korean War, including combat footage. You can find a selection in this collection.
The conflict is often referred to as “The Forgotten War”, but as many as two and a half million civilians lost their lives during the fighting, as well as many British soldiers.
It’s International Women’s Day 2013! If you’re not familiar with it, do take a look at the official website for the occasion.
Given the nature of the day, you might be interested in our classic doc, “Emancipation of Women“, covering changes in women’s lives and status between 1890 and 1930. The film was put together when the Archive was under EMI ownership (from 1969 until 1986 – see our history of British Pathé page). The entire production can be viewed online for free here.
Historical Advisor – Arthur Marwick, Professor of History, the Open University.
Film Research – Lisa Pontecorvo.
Written and Produced by Richard Dunn.
Produced and Distributed by EMI Special Films Unit.
We came across this clip in our archive quite recently called “Unknown Distant Plane” from some time between 1910 and 1920 and it was quickly proclaimed the least interesting clip we’d ever seen! We feel guilty thinking that about any clip in the archive, but as you can gather from the images, there’s not a great deal to see. And when it looks like something might be happening, with soldiers appearing in the frame, we end up only being shown the tops of their heads.
So why are we sharing with you such a boring clip? Because we refuse to believe that it doesn’t have some value, though we require some assistance to know exactly what that value is.
Can you help identify the location? The type of plane? The uniforms? We already have a helpful comment from “Hayling_Billy” beneath the clip: “Looks to me very much like a Bleriot monoplane. The fact that a camera was on hand, and the ‘rush’ of people towards it (to see it land?) points to an event of some importance.” This has got us very intrigued! Does this sound right? Is there any additional information, or any historical context, that you might be able to share?
If so, leave a comment beneath the clip, or at the end of this blog post.
Today marks two notable anniversaries for which the British Pathé archive has some relevant footage. Most importantly, Joseph Stalin died 60 years ago, on 5th March 1953. Stalin, the former leader of the USSR, has gone down in history as one of the most controlling and murderous dictators the world has ever seen. His regime of fear caused the suffering of many of his own people – some estimates put deaths at 20-30 million. We included him in our recent gallery, 10 Faces of Evil, along with Adolf Hitler and other notorious criminals.
But Stalin is not universally derided. Although Russia itself has since acknowledged the awful crimes of his decades in power (indeed, see Khrushchev denouncing Stalin in 1956), there has been news coverage today concerning the opposing views about him in Georgia, where he was born in 1878. Some there revile him, but others proclaim him a “local hero”. The BBC News report can be read here.
British Pathé holds a great many films related to Stalin, but also newsreels announcing his death and footage revealing the reactions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia to their leader’s passing. You can find the relevant collection of films via this link.
The second notable anniversary concerns a great feat of British engineering. 70 years ago, the Gloster Meteor flew for the first time in the UK. Footage of the plane in flight from the 1940s on can be found in the British Pathé archive. Click here to explore.
For British Pathé’s collection of newsreels on the death of Stalin, click here.
For British Pathé footage of Gloster Meteors, click here.
On 27th Feb 1933, Berlin’s Reichstag building was destroyed. A newsreel covers the aftermath and there is footage of the ruined building. Click here to see the collection, or click the stills below for the individual films.
The fire meant more than damage to an impressive structure – it was an immensely important event in the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. Adolf Hitler was able to use the event to obtain emergency powers, which he used to suppress opposition to Nazi rule. By the end of March, Hitler was a dictator and Germany’s struggling democracy was finally dead.
For British Pathé’s collection of films on the Reichstag fire, click here.
In our opinion, this past year has been a triumph for modern cinema and, as usual, the whole of Hollywood will assemble on 24th February 2013 to celebrate its success.
British Pathé has some footage of earlier ceremonies from the late 1940s, the 1950s, and 1960s. You can view them all here.
The 85th Academy Awards are set to be an exciting celebration and it will be interesting to see who scoops the awards this year. We’ve listed all of the nominees below, with links to their imdb profiles. We’ve also scattered a few stills from our collection. Just click on them to be taken to our list of Oscar films.
We also have an Oscar-nominated film of our own that you can watch. The travelogue “See You At The Pillar” was nominated for an Academy Award in the Documentary Short category in 1967. Watch it here.
Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Best supporting actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert de Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best supporting actress
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Best original screenplay
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
John Gatins Flight
Michael Haneke, Amour
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Best adapted screenplay
Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
David Magee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Chris Terrio, Argo
Best foreign film
Amour – Austria Kon-Tiki – Norway No – Chile A Royal Affair – Denmark War Witch – Canada
5 Broken Cameras The Gatekeepers How to Survive a Plague The Invisible War Searching for Sugar Man
Best documentary short
Inocente Kings Point Mondays at Racine Open Heart Redemption
Brave: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman Frankenweenie: Tim Burton ParaNorman: Sam Fell, Chris Butler The Pirates! Band of Misfits / In an Adventure with Scientists, Peter Lord Wreck it Ralph, Rich Moore
Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey Django Unchained, Robert Richardson Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski Skyfall, Roger Deakins
Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers, Silver Linings Playbook
William Goldenberg, Argo
Michael Kahn, Lincoln
Tim Squyres, Life of Pi
Dylan Tichenor, William Goldenberg, Zero Dark Thirty
Best sound editing
Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn, Argo
Wylie Stateman: Django Unchained
Drew Kunin, Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton, Ron Bartlett, D. M. Hemphill: Life of Pi
Per Hallberg, Karen Baker Landers: Skyfall
Paul N.J. Ottosson, Zero Dark Thirty
Best sound mixing
Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin, Life of Pi
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson,
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes, Les Miserables
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson, Skyfall
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins, Lincoln
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia, Argo
Best make up and hair
Julie Hewett, Martin Samuel, Howard Berger: Hitchcock
Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Lisa Westcott, Les Miserables
Best original score
Dario Marianelli, Anna Karenina
Alexandre Desplat, Argo
Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
John Williams, Lincoln
Thomas Newman, Skyfall
Best original song
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi
“Skyfall” from Skyfall
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables
Best production design
Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer: Anna Karenina
Dan Hennah (Production Design); Ra Vincent and Simon Bright (Set Decoration), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson: Les Miserables
David Gropman, Anna Pinnock: Life of Pi
Rick Carter, Jim Erickson: Lincoln
Best visual effects
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson, Snow White and the Huntsman
Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick, Avengers Assemble
Richard Stammers, Charley Henley, Trevor Wood, Paul Butterworth: Prometheus
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer: Life of Pi
Best costume design
Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
Paco Delgado, Les Miserables
Joanna Johnston, Lincoln
Eiko Ishioka, Mirror Mirror
Colleen Atwood, Snow White and the Huntsman
Best short film (animated)
Adam and Dog Fresh Guacamole Head over Heels Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” Paperman
Asad Buzkashi Boys Curfew Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw) Henry
For British Pathé’s news coverage of the Academy Awards, click here
For the Oscar-nominated Documentary, “See You At The Pillar”, click here
The British Government has announced that all wounded veterans will get the most advanced artificial limbs. This involves increasing funding by £6.5 million. A report by The Daily Telegraph, including an interview with Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond, can be foundhere.
This film from the British Pathé archive shows artificial limbs of the past. In the footage, First World War amputees practice with their new prosthetics.
In 1925, with the cooperation of the War Office, British Instructional Films set out to make a dramatic, feature-length reconstruction of the five Ypres battles in which 1.7 million soldiers lost their lives.
Directed by William Summers, the result is a silent classic. Unlike the famous 1916 documentary The Battle of the Somme, the Ypres footage is entirely “faked” and the film shares some of Somme‘s propagandist approach. Regardless, the film is no less fascinating as an artistic endeavour of its time and it features some stunning images. A degree of authenticity is provided by real soldiers taking part and by the filming having taken place in the actual Ypres trenches.
The documentary, called simply “Ypres”, can be viewed in its entirety on the British Pathé website, via this link. Some of the footage is quite dark and you might need to adjust the settings on your monitor, but it is well worth a watch.
William Summers also directed the film Nelson (1926), starring Cedric Hardwicke. The silent motion picture, also made for British Instructional Films, can be viewed here.
It’s the most romantic day of the year and in our minds, it’s a bit like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. Have a look at a few figures we found about Valentine’s Day.
The figures show that 40% of people have negative feelings towards Valentine’s Day.
1 billion cards will be sent on Valentine’s Day which makes it the single largest seasonal occasion after Christmas.
Each year in America around 220,000 wedding proposals will be made, but don’t rush out to buy the ring just yet as a recent survey showed that 75% of women find being proposed to on Valentine’s Day cheesy.
It turns out the most romantic day of the year can end in disaster, with 53% of women ready to dump their boyfriend if they don’t receive a gift on Valentine’s Day (better make that dash to the shops after all!).
If you receive flowers this Valentine’s Day you are most likely to be a woman as 73% of men will buy flowers whereas only 27% of women buy flowers for Valentine’s.
It is predicted that more than 35 million boxes of heart shaped chocolates will be sold in the run up to Valentine’s.
In the 19th Century doctors would prescribe chocolates to their patients who were pining for lost love.
And of course, humans are not the only ones who should be expecting a treat this Valentine’s Day as 3% of pet owners will give cards and gifts to their pets.
So really, we all have something to look forward to this Valentine’s Day whether it getting a heart shaped box of chocolates from a loved one or indulging on the reduced chocolate the day after!
Today’s news is full of stories about the Pope’s resignation. After eight years, Benedict XVI will step down due to ill health. He will be the first pope to relinquish the position since Gregory XII in 1415. This was the statement that was released by the Vatican:
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
The British Pathé archive holds a great deal of material related to the papacy and to many of the previous popes who served during the Twentieth Century.
The earliest footage of a pope in the archive dates from 1922. Benedict XV died in this year and newsreels announced his death. His twenty-first century namesake called him a “prophet of peace” for his role in the First World War.
British Pathé filmed the election of Benedict XV’s successor, who served from 1922 until his own death in 1939. During his tenure, he presided over the transformation of Vatican City into a sovereign state. Click here to view a selection of news stories from his reign.
When Paul VI died in 1978, he was succeeded by John Paul I. Sadly, 33 days after his succession, John Paul was discovered dead in his bed. John Paul II replaced him, the first non-Italian pope for more than 400 years. He died in 2005 and an episode of A Day That Shook The World documents the funeral.
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 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.
“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.
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.
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.
Barack Obama took the oath of office for his second term as President of the United States yesterday in Washington D.C. His speech at the event emphasised the need to engage peacefully with the rest of the world and for the American people to unite in solving the problems of today. The issues highlighted were gender inequality, the gap between rich and poor, healthcare, global warming and immigration. One topic the newspapers have been focussing on, though, is gay rights, for Obama became the first president in history to touch on the issue in an inaugural address (Obama listed Stonewall alongside Seneca Falls and Selma). The full speech, courtesy of The New York Times’ YouTube channel, can be viewed below:
The British Pathé archive contains coverage of a great many previous inaugurations, not only of American Presidents, but of those from other countries as well. For the United States, the earliest appears to be of William G. Harding in 1921 and the most recent to be of President Nixon in 1969. The inaugurations in between can be viewed via this link.
View British Pathé’s collection of US Presidential Inaugurations here.
21st January 2013 is the inaugural Annual George Orwell Day. The date has been chosen for the day of his death (21st January 1950). British Pathé holds three films of direct relevance to the life and works of Orwell.
The earliest is a film entitled “Eton Wall Game” and it shows students at Eton celebrating St Andrew’s Day in 1921. Apparently, the film features a young George Orwell, something which has been verified by one of his biographers, D.J. Taylor. View the film here. If you know which one is Orwell, do leave us a comment below.
The other two clips date from after Orwell’s death. One covers the premiere of the film “1984” in London, along with a glimpse at an art director’s model of London, an arrow pointing to “Victory Square”. See the red carpet activities and the model here.
But the more interesting clip takes us behind the scenes of the animated adaptation of “Animal Farm” in the 1950s. We get to see storyboarding, animating and short sections of the finished film. Watch the fascinating three-minute examination of the work that went into the classic cartoon here.
It has been reported in the papers today that high street retailer HMV has gone the way of Woolworths, Jessops, Comet, Zavvi (until rescued by HMV), and Fopp (until rescued by HMV) – into administration. As more people shop online on sites such as Amazon, stores that you can physically go to, particularly for entertainment products like DVDs or video games, are disappearing. Kindles may well prove to be the death of book stores too. Perhaps all this is no bad thing. But the long history of some of these companies, and their places within the British cultural consciousness, make these changes sad, even if necessary.
Given HMV stores’ association with DVDs, the younger among us might be forgiven for thinking that the company was established relatively recently, but in fact it was founded back in 1921. Originally it was a sound device manufacturer and music retailer and footage of the HMV factories from its early years can be found in the British Pathé archive.
As well as some general shots of an HMV factory in the 1930s (along with a look at a sign reading “His Master’s Voice”, which was abbreviated to HMV), you can also find singer Gracie Fields visiting the huge factory at Hayes pressing her four millionth record in 1933. Another clip worth highlighting is one from 1932 concerning “voice grafting – the latest miracle of sound science”, filmed at HMV studios. View it here.
Interestingly, the history of British Pathé is linked to HMV through the former ownership of both companies by EMI. The archive was at EMI and Thorn EMI from 1969 until 1986 and a visit to the archive during that period can be found here.
View all of the HMV clips within the archive via this link.
Here’s our selection of British Pathé footage that relates to anniversaries coming up in the next two weeks. Click the links below to take a look! You can also keep up to date with aniversaries by following our dedicated Pinterest board.
It will have been 150 years since the birth of David Lloyd George on 17th January 1863. Lloyd George, Prime Minister during the First World War, features in a great many British Pathé newsreels. Explore them here.
Another birthday for January is that of American comedian Danny Kaye, born 100 years ago on 18th January 1913. There is some excellent footage of Kaye in the archive, particularly of his 1948 Royal Command Performance act and rehearsals. Watch them here.
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.
King Arthur and his legendary Knights of the Round Table; the heroic King of Wessex, Alfred the Great; hordes of Viking invaders – there’s nothing like a good early-medieval tale. Nostalgia for the Dark Ages is nothing new and we’ve put together a collection of material on people revelling in the trappings of that period and culture.
Strictly speaking, there weren’t really any “Dark Ages”. They are more a creation of popular culture than any historical reality and academics today discourage use of the term as judgemental and inaccurate. Indeed, many inventions of the so-called Dark Ages are still in use today, so there’s much to celebrate in the era after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
It wouldn’t be easy for us to pick up a 5th-century Old English manuscript and read it like we would a modern-day novel. Indeed, here is a short passage from Beowulf, written some time between the 8th and the 11th centuries:
Hwæt. We Gardena in gear-dagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Translated, this would be:
What. We of the Spear-Danes in old days of the people-kings, power heard, how the princes brave deeds did.*
It is hard to believe that this Old English passage bears much relation to our own language, but this is the root of the way we write and speak; a language which would evolve over the centuries; a language of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Dan Brown.
2. English Christianity
In 597 AD, the Benedictine monk Augustine arrived on the pagan shores of early-medieval Britain on a mission to spread Christianity on behalf of the Pope. Augustine is known as the first Archbishop of Canterbury, a position that has survived to the present day.
3. The Blast Furnace
The first to invent the Blast Furnace were the Chinese in the 5th century. Western Europe, on the other hand, would not catch up until the 12th century. But the “Dark Ages” did introduce something similar and very close to it. That was the Catalan forge, created in Catalonia, Spain during the 8th century.
4. The Horseshoe
Nailed horseshoes were an innovation of the “Dark Ages”, possibly from the 9th century, allowing horses to more easily traverse difficult territory without causing harm to their hooves.
5. The English Navy
The earliest references to ships used by English kings in battle come from the “Dark Ages”. It was the threat of Viking invaders that propelled the formation of a navy on a large scale during the course of the 9th century, particularly under King Alfred the Great. Over the centuries, Britain grew into the world’s greatest maritime power, before declining significantly in influence during the 20th century.
The office of sheriff has had a varying meaning depending on the period and the particular country. In England it is now a ceremonial position, but in the 10th century it was a “keeper of the peace” appointed by the king and was known as a “shire reeve”, somewhat akin to the modern-day American police officer.
7. The English Monarchy
Alfred the Great was the first to style himself as “King of the English”, but it was King Aethelstan in the 10th century who really ruled what we would consider to be an English kingdom. Polls show that the British have no desire to rid themselves of this historic institution.
Can you think of any more? Object to any of our choices? Leave us a comment.
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.
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.
22nd November marks forty years since the first B52 bomber was shot down in the Vietnam War in 1972. Although we have no coverage of that particular incident, the anniversary has prompted us to search our archive and to take a look at our other footage of that controversial conflict. Here we present a brief summary.
The war was indeed divisive, as these images reveal. They are from the 1968 Vietnam War demonstrations held in Trafalgar Square, London. The clips can be found in this collection: Vietnam demonstrations British Pathé and the BBC also produced a brief summary of the demonstrations for our A Day That Shook The World series. The episode can be viewed here.
As well as the political situation in London, the British Pathé archive also holds combat footage, filmed with the American troops. This material is often forgotten, lost among the overwhelming amount of first and second world war coverage within the archive. Much the same can be said of our Korean War holdings (outlined here).
The footage is wide-ranging. Included are political discussions and conferences, such as those held in the United Nations, between the different parties; the preparations for battle and the troops in their camps; Bob Hope entertaining the US soldiers; troops on patrol; bombs dropped and rockets being fired; Australian soldiers returning home; and general coverage of Vietnam, such as women working in a field and life in Hanoi.
Possibly also of interest are the A Day That Shook The World episode chronicling the French surrender at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and this broader Vietnam collection. More can be found simply by searching the website (a simple search for “Vietnam” reveals 321 clips!)
A somewhat random selection of stills from the footage provides a taste of what the archive has to offer:
These clips serve as a reminder of that terrible waste of human life – the Vietnam War, 1955-1975.
You can view a selection of British Pathé’s Vietnam combat footage by clicking here or you can explore our broader Vietnam collection.
“That’s all very well, but what has the Pathé archive got for ME?”
It can be tempting to think of the British Pathé archive as being only of interest to those with a passion for the history of the Twentieth Century. After all, the bulk of the footage comes from around 1914 to 1969 – the earliest clip in the archive is from 1895 (New Blacksmith Shop) with the most recent material contained within a BBC/British Pathé co-production covering the collapse of Enron in 2006 – but there is in fact plenty for those with a preference for other historical periods, or those who have specialist interests, to explore. The Pathé archive isn’t all about the Queen and British politics.
An obvious starting place for those with an interest in history prior to the Twentieth Century, is the archive relating to Ancient Egypt. We have footage of Howard Carter in front of the tomb of Tutankhamun, as well as shots of the treasures found within. (Visit our Tutankhamun collection here.)
But as well as that famous pharoah and his discoverer, our extensive archaeology archive (click here) contains coverage from all parts of the world. You’ll be able to see Tudor and Roman Britain excavations, tour Pompeii, the Middle East, and dive the oceans to explore shipwrecks.
It’s true that none of these clips are necessarily going to help you study these periods (unless you want to look at how they were portrayed in the Twentieth Century), but they are surely of interest. What Egyptologist wouldn’t marvel at seeing Carter at the tomb, or the glistening treasures on display?
There’s also stuff for people who don’t even like history (if such people exist). Here we present just a few ideas for exploring the archive for those with specialist interests.
Fascinated by science, animals, or insects? Try the classic Secrets of Nature – it covers the amazing life-cycles of plants, via some stunning microscope photography, as well as detailing the lives of many species of animals, birds, and insects.
Haven’t travelled enough? Take the cheap option and travel the world through British Pathé’s collection of travelogues. Escape the humdrum of everyday life with these clips (for the most part in colour) of numerous sites – from the ancient cities of Jerusalem, Rome, and Thebes, to the culturally rich capitals of Paris and Moscow, to the childish delights of Disneyland in sunny California.
Like animation? See Jerry the Troublesome Tyke, a classic animated series from the silent era, addictive due to its immense charm and wealth of humour.
Always wanted to be an astronaut? Rewatch the moon landings or other significant events from the Space Race in our collection.
Or just want to pass the time with some wacky stuff? We’ve got a collection of crazy inventions, or just try searching for something. The still below is from our “Robot Boy” video, which has been popular recently. We found it by accident when looking for something else.
So search the archive for hidden gems at www.britishpathe.com. There’s 90,000 clips with something for everyone! Thought of some topics we’ve missed? Leave us a comment below. Happy searching!
In the run up to Remembrance Day, the archivists here at British Pathé have been revisiting our old First World War footage. There’s a great deal of it, much of it dramatic and chilling. What has struck us most are the faces of these young soldiers as they sit in the trenches awaiting the order to go “Over the Top”. Sadly, the names of these brave men are unknown to us, as are their ultimate fates.
Which is why we need your help. Much of our valuable World War One footage remains unidentified. We don’t know exactly where and when some of the material was taken. For the sake of posterity, we feel it is essential to catalogue the films and contextualise them.
This year, we’re focusing on one individual.
The above still is taken from a film (view it here) in the archive and is believed to be from the First World War. It shows the marriage of a British officer to his bride.
Who is this person? Did he survive? Where might he be now?
We are now entering into the period leading up to Remembrance Day. We have already blogged this week about the history of poppies and why we wear them (see Poppies: An Illustrated History), but there is plenty more to discuss and explore. Since Pathé’s war archive is extensive, we present here some potential starting points, with links here to key collections that can act as a way in.
The archive of World War Two material filmed by British Pathé is wide-ranging. Pathé cameramen went with the troops all around the world, and documented the destruction at home. Footage details warfare on land, at sea, and in the air. Some collections that may interest you include our D-Day clips, coverage of the Battle of the Atlantic, the dramatic escape from Dunkirk, and the devastation of the Blitz.
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 want.
As we approach Remembrance Day, that important British anniversary on which we reflect on the great sacrifices of previous generations, it is interesting to look at the history behind its key symbol – the poppy. Why do we wear it, and how did this tradition come about?
The First World War was an earth-shattering global catastrophe that marked the end of the optimism of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It was this “Great War” which first introduced the use of the red poppy (the Papaver rhoeas) for the purpose of remembrance.
No Man’s Land, a zone dividing the trenches of opposing forces, was heavily bombarded during the conflict. The beautiful scenery and grasslands of France and Belgium were churned into wet mud and desolate wasteland. It was here that many brave men fell after going “Over the top” to meet the flying bullets of enemy guns. And it was also here that, when the fighting had died down, poppies grew and spread in abundance, their blood-red colour providing a strong contrast to the brown muck. One of the most well-known references to this phenomenon comes in the war poem, “In Flanders Fields” by Lt Col John McCrae. One key line is:
If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields
These lines inspired their first use in the United States, where they were adopted by the National American Legion, in 1920. It was not long before the wearing of poppies as a sign of remembrance had spread to the United Kingdom, and it is here and in Commonwealth countries that the practice remains most common. Promoted by Douglas Haig, the poppies were soon widely worn on Remembrance Days. Made and sold by the Royal British Legion, the funds go to helping ex-servicemen and servicewomen and their families.
A film in the British Pathé archive details the making of poppies for distribution by the Royal British Legion. Made at the Richmond poppy factory, established as early as 1922, it has employed disabled ex-servicemen to construct the huge number of poppies needed every year. At the time the newsreel was produced in 1968, the factory had 300 staff and manufactured 13 million poppies per annum. To achieve such a mammoth task, they work all year round. Today, the factory produces as many as 36 million poppies per year, though the number of employees is only a fraction of what it once was.
The full film also details the other stirling work done by the Royal British Legion. It can be viewed by clicking here. This year the charity hopes to raise £42 million.
There’s been some controversy in recent years about the wearing of poppies and their meaning. There are also rival poppies – the white poppy for pacifists, and the purple poppy to remember animal victims of war. But the traditional red poppy is no doubt here to stay, and serves as a reminder of great courage and sacrifice, and also of how lucky we are. But, of course, we cannot forget the men and women who still fight for our safety in ongoing conflicts around the world today.
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…
Today is the 100th anniversary of Franz Reichelt’s attempt to fly in Paris on the 4th February 1912. His choice of venue to demonstrate his solo flying contraption? The Eiffel Tower. The results? Not good.
British Pathé houses the shocking video of Franz Reichelt’s “Death Jump”. You can watch the only existing High Definition version that is viewable to the public for free on the British Pathé YouTube channel here:
The original canister notes are also a fascinating read and can be seen on our archive website here:
The video was never actually issued by British Pathé, perhaps due to its shocking nature as the video shows the exact second that Franz Reichelt dies as he plummets terrifyingly to his death, and the aftermath scene is rather shocking too as Parisien press members rush forward to measure the depth of the hole left by Franz Reichelt’s body.
However today this video is one of the most viewed British Pathé videos. A plethora of low-quality stolen versions appear on YouTube, but British Pathé are proud to have the best quality version of the reel on display.
Who knew there used to be cinema carriages on trains? Or “saloons” as they were called…
Today we came across this exciting poster on the National Archives’ Flickr stream which reads – “There is a Comfortable & Luxurious Cinema Attached to this Train” – “Special Programme Compiled Exclusively For This Train by PATHE GAZETTE”, Commencing Monday, May 16th, 1938.
The poster is for an LNER train, which is the London North Eastern Railway service, so trains going from Kings Cross to places like Edinburgh. We can just picture the classy and demure travellers as they relaxed in the “Pathé L.N.E.R. Saloon”, the countryside silently sliding past them as they tucked into a feast of the latest British Pathé reels.
The films shown on the train were actually issued only 7 days before the scheduled event, so it was pretty hot off the press. It’s interesting to see that Ireland is quite well covered, and also that boxing appears to be the most highly-sought sport.
The train’s cinema carriage wasn’t free – it cost 1 shilling – so it would have been a bit of a treat, but think about it – people didn’t have televisions in the 1930s and they had to go to a cinema house to see moving footage. We love that the poster tells customers that the Pathé saloon is non-inflammable too! Of course earlier newsreels were made out of nitrate, and almost everybody smoked, so you can understand the concern.
ANYWAY. We were delighted to see that the poster then lists each reel that would feature in the screening. Using the date as a guide and searching the titles in the British Pathé film archive we’ve managed to find 32 out of 34 of the items on the trains bill, and we’ve put online links to each below so that you can pick and view the ones that interest you, or perhaps even re-live the experience and watch them all!
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:
Most of us are lucky enough to go about our daily lives fairly inconspicuously but there are some men and women who literally stand out from the crowd. Super sized humans have always attracted much attention and fascination and even our clips about the tallest people in the world are very popular with our viewers. So we thought it was time to dig the films out and celebrate these great ones.
Robert Wadlow (1918-1940) – 8ft11
Born in 1918, Robert is still to this day known as the tallest person in medical history. When the Pathe cameras went to film him in 1935, he was a mere 8′ 1 1/2″. When they returned the next year, he was 8ft4″. By the time of his death at just aged 22, he had grown to 8ft11’’. In this clip, he is surrounded by his family and even though his father was 6ft, none of them stand much above his waist.
Ted Evans (1924-1958) – 7ft8
According to the Pathe notes, Ted was “the tallest man in the world at 9 feet 3 1/2 inches”. This is actually a gross exaggeration because we now know that Robert Wadlow is officially the tallest man ever at 8ft11″. Ted’s height was greatly amplified during his lifetime most likely for publicity reasons. He was in fact 7ft8.5″ but still at this great height, he was the Tallest Man in Britain at the time. Take a gander through some of our clips on Ted going about his usual day to day business.
Also known as the Scandinavian Giant, our footage makes reference to Clifford Thompson’s height of 8ft7” but other sources have noted that he was more than a foot shorter than this; he was actually nearer 7ft5”…….tiny!
John Aasen (1890-1938) – 7ft2″
There seems to be a running theme within our footage where people’s heights are somewhat embellished. This 1920s film tells us that Scandinavian John Aasen is 8ft10″ inches tall and is the tallest man in the world. John was in fact 7ft2″; petite compared to Robert Wadlow’s final height. However, he was one of the tallest actors of all time and according to folklore his father was 8ft and his mother was 7ft2″ – statistics that we perhaps should take with a pinch of salt!
Swiss Miss – 8ft
I’ll gloss over the man this woman is chatting to at the Chiswick baths in London…Anyway this woman is called Colossa – the Swiss Miss. At the time of filming (watch here) she was 18 years old and apparently 8ft high! We would love to hear from anyone who has more information on this lady. And was she really 8ft? The screen grab below suggests she was but we all know how cameras can lie…