Versailles

This month marks 95 years since the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. British Pathé has footage of the delegates at the conference and of some of the repercussions of the treaty. There is also this later newsreel covering the lead-up to the Second World War: “The tragedy of 1938 was born in 1919 at Versailles”.

Some of the key films in the British Pathé archive are viewable below.

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1. TREATY OF VERSAILLES – PART ONE (1919)

The first two films in this collection, “Treaty of Versailles Part One” and “Part Two”, feature multiple newsreels related to the negotiations and signing of the treaty strung together across two reels.

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2. TREATY OF VERSAILLES – PART TWO (1919)

The first two films in this collection, “Treaty of Versailles Part One” and “Part Two”, feature multiple newsreels related to the negotiations and signing of the treaty strung together across two reels.

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3. FRENCH TROOPS OCCUPY FRANKFURT (1920)

Full title reads: “FRENCH EAGLES ACROSS THE RHINE. First pictures of the French occupation of Frankfort [sic].” A silent newsreel released in cinemas on 19th April 1920.

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4. GERMAN FLOATING DOCK (1920)

Full title reads: “ENORMOUS GERMAN FLOATING DOCK. 720 feet long with lifting capacity of 40,000 tons surrendered under Peace Treaty – arrives.” A silent newsreel released in cinemas on 13th September 1920.

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5. GRAVEYARD OF GERMANY’S AIR AMBITIONS (1920)

Full title reads: “The GRAVEYARD OF GERMANY’S AIR AMBITIONS. Immense numbers of machines and engines are being destroyed under terms of Peace Treaty”. A silent newsreel released in cinemas on 25th November 1920.

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6. THE BULLION PLANE (1925)

Full title reads: “The bullion ‘plane. 3 engined Junker monoplane arrives with cargo of bonds worth £10,000,000 consigned to Bank of England under Dawes Reparation Scheme. Croydon Aerodrome.” A silent newsreel released in cinemas on 29th August 1925.

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7. 12 YEARS AFTER VERSAILLES (1931)

Full title reads: “Germany. 12 Years After Versailles. Giant fortress of Kustrin which protects Berlin on East – one of the last now left in Germany – destroyed under terms of Peace Treaty.” A silent newsreel released in cinemas on 10th August 1931.

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WWW.BRITISHPATHE.COM

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The British Pathé D-Day Archives

On 6 June 1944, the invasion of Normandy began. British Pathé newsreels documented every stage of the liberation of Europe. Three videos are especially worth bringing to your attention.

INVASION – PICTORIAL REPORTS FROM FRANCE

This contemporary Pathé newsreel documents D-Day for cinema audiences watching back home. It’s interesting to magine what they must have thought watching these pictures. Many would have had sons, brothers or husbands on the battlefield.


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D-DAY – THE GREATEST COMBINED OPERATION IN WORLD’S HISTORY

Another contemporary newsreel, longer than the first, really shows the scale of the Normandy landings, looking not just at the beaches but the operations at sea and in the air.


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A DAY THAT SHOOK THE WORLD: 6TH JUNE 1944

John Humphrys narrates this brief overview of D-Day in an episode of the series A Day That Shook the World, which British Pathé co-produced with the BBC.


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COLLECTIONS & GALLERIES

For a more in-depth look at the D-Day landings and subsequent battles, you can explore a collection British Pathé has compiled of  footage from the archive and organised by topic. You can see a screenshot of the collection below, very similar to the one we recently produced for the First World War. You can find the collection on our website via this link.

Finally, we’ve also put together a new gallery of 10 Amazing D-Day Facts. Do take a look.

D-Day

http://www.britishpathe.com

 

 

British Pathé presents: WW1 – The Definitive Collection

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August 2014 marks one hundred years since the start of World War One. To commemorate this landmark occasion, British Pathé has launched a definitive collection of WW1 films.

British Pathé holds one of the finest and most comprehensive First World War film archives in the world. There’s footage of trench warfare, zeppelin raids, battleships at sea, U-boats, protests, wartime propaganda, and countless other interesting subjects.

The collection has been organised by topic, event and protagonist, and for the first time presented on a single navigable page.

You can explore the collection here.

A sample image of the newly-created collection, organised by topic.
A sample image of the newly-created collection, organised by topic.

www.britishpathe.com

The Wright Brothers’ First Flight

A brief introduction to the (non-existent) British Pathé footage of the Wright Brothers’ First Flight.

There has been a bit of confusion over the years regarding British Pathé’s collection of Wright Brothers footage. The famous siblings flew successfully for the first time 110 years ago this month (on 17 December 1903). Sadly, only photographs exist to document this historic achievement.

However, this didn’t stop British Pathé from cheekily claiming in a film to have footage from 1903. A newsreel released in 1927 purports to take the viewer “back to 1903 to see one of Wilbur Wright’s first flights”. This may not be a deliberate deception – the text does say one of Wilbur Wright’s first flights” – but the footage has nevertheless been lifted from another newsreel which, according to the contemporary captions in the film itself, was shot on 18 December 1908. (The similarities in the dates of the two flights probably haven’t helped here either.) The film features some really great shots of the plane being prepared prior to take off as well as the flight itself. You can view it here.

Not quite true.
Not quite true.

The mistake happened again in the 1990s when the BBC/British Pathé series A Day That Shook The World chronicled the “Wright Brothers’ First Flight”, again making use of the 1908 material. The intentions were probably more honest than in 1927 and it is likely to be a genuine error based on a long history of errors! (You can judge for yourself here).

But footage or no footage, the Wright Brothers’ maiden flight was a landmark in the history of human progress which deserves celebration and any filmed document of the siblings’ achievements should be cherished.

The archive also contains a German retrospective on a 1909 Wright Brothers flight in Berlin and a 1912 acrobatic display by the siblings in St. Louis, attended by Teddy Roosevelt.

www.britishpathe.com

British Pathé Picks: July 2013

Here are some things in the archive that may be of interest to you over the next few weeks. Click on the links to take a look.

2013 British Open   (18 July)

The 142nd Open Championship takes place this month in Scotland. British Pathé’s coverage of past events can be seen on our website via this link.

Wiley Post Flies Solo   (22 July)

80 years: Wiley Post was the first to fly solo around the world. British Pathé has two newsreels covering the historic flight in this collection.

Bombing of Hamburg   (24 July)

It is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hamburg in Operation Gomorrah. Shots of the RAF and USAF raids and the devastation wrought can be found here.

Korean War Truce  (27 July)

60 years: The signing of the truce in 1953 was covered by Pathé News and the original newsreel can be viewed here. The archive also has additional material from the Korean War, including combat footage. Here’s a selection.

www.britishpathe.com

British Pathé Picks: 14th – 31st January 2013

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.

Churchill and Roosevelt at Casablanca 

(14 January)

70 years ago, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met at Casablanca to discuss the war effort. A 1943 newsreel covers the event. View it here.

Churchill and Roosevelt. Click the still to view the film.
Churchill and Roosevelt. Click the still to view the film.

David Lloyd George Born  

(17 January)

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.

Lloyd George in 1922.
Lloyd George in 1922.

Danny Kaye  

(18 January)

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.

Danny Kaye rehearses for a performance.
Danny Kaye rehearses for a performance.

85 years since the death of Earl Haig

(29 January)

Footage of the First World War general and of his funeral can be found here.

Funeral procession for Douglas Haig.
Funeral procession for Douglas Haig.

British Membership of the EU  

(29 January)

50 years ago, Charles de Gaulle famously said “non” to Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community. Click here to view the 1963 newsreel.

Topical! The US declared last week that they wanted Britain at the heart of the EU.
Topical! The US declared last week that they wanted Britain at the heart of the EU.

Hitler Becomes Chancellor  

(30 January)

80th Anniversary: On 30th January 1933, von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany. The newsreel, “Hitler Assumes Bismarck’s Mantle”, can be viewed here.

Hitler celebrates his victory.
Hitler celebrates his victory.

In other news

Spitfires in Burma

Excavations in Burma may have unearthed spitfires that have been buried there. British Pathé has a wealth of footage related to spitfires, just a selection of which can be seen here.

www.britishpathe.com

90,000 Historical Newsreels For Use in Your History Lessons

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.

Teaching History Ad

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.

British Pathé Picks: Early Jan 2013

Twice a month we blog about footage in the archive relevant to upcoming events or important anniversaries. There are always plenty, so we can only present a selection and you can search the archive for more at www.britishpathe.com

Here are our picks for the next two weeks:

Hillary reaches South Pole  

(4 January)

55 years ago, Edmund Hillary reached the South Pole over land, the first to do so since Captain Scott. View the 1958 newsreel here.

HILLARY_REACHES_POLE_1515_07_2

Richard Nixon Born

(9 January)

It will have been 100 years since the birth of Richard Nixon on 9th January 1913. The American President, who was disgraced by the Watergate scandal, features in a great many British Pathé newsreels. Explore them here.

1969_-_A_ROYAL_YEAR_2237_21_302

Heart of Thomas Hardy Buried  

(11 January)

85 years ago, the great writer Thomas Hardy died and his heart was buried separately from his body. British Pathé has footage of the burial of the heart in Dorset in 1928. Click here to view the newsreel.

THOMAS_HARDY_FUNERAL_712_32_33

Flying Scotsman retired  

(14 January)

50th Anniversary: On 14th January 1963, the Flying Scotsman made its last run. A collection of clips on that famous train can be found here.

EXTRA_!_FLYING_SCOTSMAN_LEAVES_FOR_USA_2227_32_71

And, of course…

150th Anniversary of London Underground

We’ll be publishing a blog post all about this shortly, but we can’t miss it off this list of important anniversaries! British Pathé celebrates 150 years of the Tube with a collection of clips featuring construction footage dating from 1922. You can also see the tunnels used as air raid shelters during the Second World War, extensions of the lines in the late 1940s, and the work of cleaners and technicians after-hours. The innovations of the 1950s also get a look-in, while there is extensive coverage of the building of the Victoria Line, as well as its opening by the Queen. Click here to explore the collection.

VICTORIA_LINE_OPENED_2071_12_1

Check back in two weeks for our next installment. In the meantime, you can visit www.britishpathe.com for more vintage films.

Review of the Year 2012 – A Pathé Tradition

From 1922 to 1969, British Pathé produced lengthy round-ups of the year’s news stories that collected together the most dramatic images and covered the most important events. Not confined to British politics, these reviews act as a whirlwind tour of the world at the time in which they were made, chronicling everything from war to royal christenings, technological innovations to key sports matches as they go. You can view the entire Review of the Yearcollection here or choose from the list at the bottom of this page.

Now, in that tradition, we take a look at the last 12 months in a review of 2012. Here are some highlights (one for each month) of this tremendous year for which the British Pathé archive holds some relevant footage:

January

Our review of 2012 begins with something that happened many years before, for January marked an important anniversary. 90 years ago, on 3rd January 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Egyptian pharoah Tutankhamun. British Pathé has footage of Carter outside his discovery, as well as coverage of the treasures found within. Click here to explore the collection.

Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun. Click the still to view the collection.
Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun. Click the still to view the collection.

February

It feels just like yesterday but it was in fact back in February that we all came out in celebration for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. There was a royal river pageant (a gallery of previous royal barges can be found here), a concert, a Royal Tour of the country, and street parties across the nation.

British Pathé’s celebration of the life of Elizabeth II can be found here. Beginning with the Queen as a young girl with her grandmother, it features her marriage, her coronation, the royal tours, select royal visits within Britain, and the home life of the Royal Family. The collection concludes with footage of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Click the still to view the film.
The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Click the still to view the film.

March

In March, the economic situation in the UK looked no better. Unemployment reached its highest figure (2.67 million) since 1995, though it was still not as high as in 1984. The ups and downs of unemployment can be traced via newsreels in the British Pathé archive. Click here to explore.

10,000 workers demonstrate in Trafalgar Square - 2,500 similar demonstrations were held in other parts of country - on Unemployment Sunday in 1923. Click the still to see our archive of unemployment-related clips.
10,000 workers demonstrate in Trafalgar Square – 2,500 similar demonstrations were held in other parts of country – on Unemployment Sunday in 1923. Click the still to see our archive of unemployment-related clips.

April

The Cutty Sark re-opened to visitors after a dreadful fire. But in April we also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the loss of Titanic. The British Pathé archive contains not only footage of the legendary liner herself, but also of her great sister ships Olympic and Britannic, both of which had accidents of their own. You can explore our centenary collection or read about the footage in the blog post, Titanic and the Other Two.

Click the still to visit our Titanic Centenary Collection.
Click the still to visit our Titanic Centenary Collection.

May

Yet another important anniversary, this time of Amelia Earhart’s crossing of the Atlantic 80 years prior. Interestingly, an expedition was launched in 2012 in an attempt to discover her remains. We wrote a blog post about it that included links to various clips featuring that amazing personality.

Click the still to read about The Hunt of Amelia Earhart.
Click the still to read about The Hunt for Amelia Earhart.

June

On 14th June 1982, the Falkland’s War came to an end, with Britain having reclaimed sovereignty over the islands following an Argentine invasion. June 2012, therefore, marked 30 years since the conclusion of the conflict. We wrote about it in our blog post When the Falklands Were Forgotten, and you can view relevant footage in this collection.

Click the still to view footage of the Falkland Islands and the 1982 war.
Click the still to view footage of the Falkland Islands and the 1982 war.

July

One cannot think of 2012 without thinking of the Olympics. British Pathé has footage of many Olympic Games, including the two other London years, 1908 and 1948. We also digitised 300 Olympics clips, making them available on the website for the very first time. You can read about them here.

Click to view 15 still images from what is now considered to be the first of the modern Olympic Games.
Click to view 15 still images from what is now considered to be the first of the modern Olympic Games.

August

One of the highlights of 2012 was the Paralympic Games, which began at the end of August and were also held in London. The Paralympics started life in the British village of Stoke Mandeville and the Ninth Annual International Stoke Mandeville Games (1960) are now known as the first Summer Paralympics. British Pathé’s collection of material on the Stoke Mandeville Games can be viewed here.

Click this still to visit our gallery, "Paralympics: Pictorial History".
Click this still to visit our gallery, “Paralympics: Pictorial History”.

September

Barack Obama accepted the nomination of the Democrats to run for re-election. He went on to win the 2012 Presidential Election and became the only Democrat to have won the popular vote twice since Franklin Roosevelt. You can see some clips from Roosevelt’s three presidential election wins here.

President Roosevelt takes the oath for his second term. Click the still to view films covering his three presidential election wins.
President Roosevelt takes the oath for his second term. Click the still to view films covering his three presidential election wins.

October

A YouTube sensation! Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier, leaping from a balloon 24 miles above the ground.

In 1960, balloonist Captain Joseph W Kittinger made the then-highest ascent and longest jump. Click the still to view the film.
In 1960, balloonist Captain Joseph W Kittinger made the then-highest ascent and longest jump. Click the still to view the film.

November

It was the Queen and Prince Philip’s 65th (blue sapphire) Wedding Anniversary in November, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Windsor Castle fire in what was the Queen’s “annus horribilis“. You can watch footage of the fire and A Day That Shook The World episodes on the British Royal Family in Crisis and the separation of Charles and Diana, or view the the announcement of the Queen’s engagement and the coverage of her wedding.

The Wedding Day in 1947. Click the still to view the film.
The Wedding Day in 1947. Click the still to view the film.

December

In the final month of 2012, the world received the news that Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William were expecting their first child. We took a guess at possible baby names in this gallery. You can also vote in our poll here.

This still shows the Queen holding baby Prince Andrew. Click to visit our Royal Baby Names gallery.
This still shows the Queen holding baby Prince Andrew. Click to visit our Royal Baby Names gallery.

Have we missed something important for which the British Pathé archive has relevant material? Leave us a comment. You can also search our Ten Most Popular Clips of 2012 and visit our tumblr and Pinterest pages which were launched this year.

We hope you enjoyed 2012 as much as we did. Here’s to 2013!

Watch a previous “Review of the Year” by selecting from the list below:

Episode Title Date
1 Look Back On 1922 1922
2 Section From Review Of 1923 1923
3 1925 Reviewed ( Reel 1 Of 3) 1926
4 1925 Reviewed (Reel 2 Of 3) 1926
5 1925 Reviewed (Reel 3 Of 3) 1926
6 Review Of 1934 1934
7 Review Of The Year 1935 1935
8 Review Of The Year 1936 1936
9 Review Of The Year 1938
10 Review Of The Year – 1939 1939
11 Review Of The Year 1940 1940
12 Review Of The Year 1941 1941
13 Review Of The Year – 1943 1943
14 Review Of The Year 1946 1946
15 Looking Back – On 1947 1947
16 1948 A Year Of Great Decision (Aka Review Of The Year ) 1948
17 Akc Review Of 1949 1949
18 Review Of The Year 1950 Record A 1950
19 Review Of The Year 1950 Record B 1950
20 Pathe News Reviews 1951 1951
21 The Crowning Year 1953
22 Pathe News Reviews 1954 – A Year Of Endeavour 1954
23 Review Of The Year 1955
24 Pathe News Reviews 1956 – Year Of Turmoil 1956
25 Reviews 1957 (Aka Review Of The Year – 1957) 1957
26 Review Of 1958 1958
27 Review Of The Year 1959 1959
28 Review Of 1960 1960
29 Review Of 1961 1961
30 Review Of 1962 1962
31 Review Of 1963 1963
32 Review Of 1964 1964
33 A Year Of Achievements – Technicolor 1966
34 Review Of The Year 1967
35 Review Of The Sixties 1970

British Pathé Picks: Christmas 2012

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…

Queen Opens New London Airport Terminal 

(16 December)

QUEEN_OPENS_AIRPORT_BUILDINGS_(aka_QUEEN_OPENS_NEW_BUILDING)_21

In 1955, British Pathé covered the Queen and Prince Philip arriving at London Airport to open new buildings. Watch the newsreel by clicking here.

Elvis Drafted into the Army

(20 December)

ELVIS_OFF_TO_GERMANY_8

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.

50th Anniversary of Polaris

(21 December)

GLASGOW__ANTI_POLARIS_DEMONSTRATION_69

In 1962, the United States sold Britain Polaris. British Pathé has footage of Polaris missiles and the demonstrations against them in this collection.

Don Bradman Beats Bodyline

(2 January)

AUSTRALIA_WINS_SECOND_TEST_2

80th Anniversary: Australia wins the second Test match against England in this 1933 film. Additional footage of Don Bradman can be found here.

Visit www.britishpathe.com for more films.

Pathé News on the Vietnam War

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).

A B-52 bomber is loaded and takes off from a runway in Vietnam. Click the still to view the film.

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:

An American ship fires two rockets. Click the still to view the film.
Bombs are dropped from US planes. Click the still to view the film.
Helicopters land.
An injured guerilla is carried off on a stretcher by American forces. Click the still to view the film.
An American fighter takes off from an aircraft carrier. Click the still to view the film.
South Vietnamese troops on patrol. Click the still to view the film.
Nixon prepares to deliver a speech.
A normal day in Hanoi, 1974.

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

The Pathé Animation Archive

As well as producing regular news stories, British Pathé often included additional forms of entertainment mixed in to add a bit of variety. These pieces could be more comedic or quirky in tone, such as the Pathé Pictorial series, or entirely fictional pieces such as Dave and Dusty. In the early days, they also produced some animated shorts. In the late 1910s, there was a series of John Bull cartoons, which sadly we cannot find in the archive. There was also, most notably Jerry The Troublesome Tyke and the somewhat similar Adventures of Pongo the Pup, both from the mid-1920s.

Jerry was a cartoon dog from the silent era who actually “worked” for Pathe News.
“The Adventures of Pongo the Pup!” Classic animation from the 1920s.

The archive also contains a great deal of other animated productions and series. But of immense interest are the war propaganda shorts, particularly the marvellous “Britain’s Effort“, made by Lancelot Speed, but also the Sinking of the Lusitania and the brief Star-gazer, a still of which is below.

A still from “Run Adolf Run” from 1940.

The Pathé Animation archive also contains plenty of educational and information cartoons, such as this Ministry of Information film “Peak Load Electricity from 1943. Plus, there’s a lot of fun John Noble shorts and film of cartoonists at work. Pathé had fun with its shorts by showing the animators interacting with their creations, sometimes (in the case of Jerry), arguing with them.

Still from Ministry of Information trailer “Export or Die”, 1944.

So there’s a wealth of different styles and genres within the archive to explore. We’ve presented just a taster of them here, in our efforts to promote aspects of the archive which have been somewhat neglected by the understandable focus on Twentieth Century politics, royalty, and the two world wars. For an introduction to “Alternative Pathé”, read our previous blog post, “That’s all very well, but what has the Pathé archive got for ME?”

To search our Animation Archive, click here.

Pathé’s Hidden Treasures

“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.)

Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun.

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.

A still from the series Secrets of Nature.

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.

What about music? We’ve got the Rolling Stones! Or visit our Beatlemania archive.

The Power of Nature.

Interested in the power of nature? Watch volcanoes explode, the earth shake, and rocks tumble in this collection.

Want to see an eclipse? Look at these: http://www.britishpathe.com/workspaces/show/jhoyle/hgG61kma/thumb

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.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/robot-boy

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!

A World War One Wedding

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?

Contact us.

British Pathé has a substantial collection of war footage. Visit our First World War collection.

The Pathé War Archive

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 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. Some collections we have created may be of interest, such as The Somme, the use of War Horses, and the Treaty of Versailles. We even have material of married men protesting against conscription.

A more general First World War Collection can be found here, or you can search our website for what you want.

The Second World War

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.

A more general Second World War Collection can be found here, or you can search our website for what you want.

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 want.

Remembrance Day is on 11th November.

Poppies: An Illustrated History

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?

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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
No Man’s Land

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

Earl Haig, supporter of the poppy and a founder of the Royal British Legion, visits wounded veterans at a hospital in 1921. Click the still to view the film.

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.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, visits the Richmond factory in 1939 to watch the workers manufacture the poppies that were an important feature of remembrance even before the Second World War. Click the still to view the film.
War veterans make poppies at the Royal British Legion factory in Richmond, 1941. Click the still to view the film.
War veterans make poppies at the Royal British Legion factory in Richmond, 1941. Click the still to view the film.

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 still to above shows a workman punching out the poppy shapes from a sheet of linen.
The cut-out shapes of linen are placed together and pressed into a mold.
The stalk is then applied, a thin strip of green fabric wrapped around a metal wire, before…
…the individual poppies are arranged into a wreath.

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 will remember them.

Going “over the top”.

British Pathé has a substantial collection of war footage. Search our website www.britishpathe.com.

This was re-published with minor revisions on November 4th 2013 as “Why We Wear Poppies”.

Decline and Transformation: British Pathé from 1958 to the present day

by James Hoyle, archive co-ordinator for British Pathé

This post is Part IV of IV.

For the years 1895 to 1910, see blog post “Pathé Before British Pathé”.

For the years 1910 to 1933, see blog post “Establishing Itself”.

For the years 1933 to 1958, see blog post “A Golden Age”.

In 1958, Warner Brothers merged with Associated British Picture Corporation (parent company of Pathé-branded newsreel and feature film producers, Associated British-Pathé) to form Warner-Pathé. The new management oversaw the introduction of colour into regular news production (it had hitherto been saved for special documentaries such as Elizabeth Is Queen). But Warner-Pathé needed more than colour in order appeal to consumers who were increasingly getting their hard news from live television. Other newsreel brands went out of business, and the company needed to adapt if it was going to survive. The answer it found was to focus on the quirks of humanity.

Warner-Pathé offices on Wardour Street, 1963

“Cinemagazines” were not an invention of the 1960s. They actually date right back to 1913 and the Kinemacolor Fashion Gazette, though it was Pathé-Cinema which perfected the form with 1918’s Pathé Pictorial. But the 1960s were the cinemagazine’s heyday. Colourful, quirky, and fun, they were also light on information and hard news. In some ways, this footage is more valuable today than when it was filmed. At the time, mere light entertainment, it now serves as a window into the leisure activities of the British people in the 1960s. Indeed, the collection was used extensively in the 2012 BBC Four series British Passions on Film.

The opening of the final edition of Pathé News in February 1970.

Regardless of the merit of the output, the company could simply not compete with the rise of television. In 1969, the final Pathé Pictorial cinemagazine was released, shortly followed by the last edition of Pathé News. This was when Associated British-Pathé went through a radical transformation, from an active news and film production house, into a dormant film archive.

As the Warner-Pathé staff on Wardour Street were wrapping up their long history of news and feature film production, they were purchased from Warner Brothers by EMI (which later became Thorn EMI). The cameras in Wardour Street may have stopped rolling, but an archive of historic importance remained. The value of its content was immediately clear and television programmes featured visits to the archive. One was Clapperboard with Chris Kelly, which was broadcast on ITV. The collection was now available to be mined by future generations of filmmakers and documentarians, and licensing became the chief occupation of the archive staff.

The Archive under EMI ownership

After a long period without much change, a significant development took place in the later 1980s. Thorn EMI was purchased by The Cannon Group in 1986, which sold the Associated British-Pathé newsreel archive the following year. Cannon did not, however, sell the assets of the feature film arm of Associated British-Pathé. Thus, for the first time, the Pathé-branded UK feature film and newsreel arms were separated, as they remain today. (The feature film assets now lie with StudioCanal.) By 1990, the archive was operating as British Pathé News. It was at this time that the company produced the respected series A Day That Shook the World and Twentieth Century Hall of Fame, as well as Year to Remember, which is still popular on DVD today.

1995 marks an important year in the recent history of the archive. Firstly, British Pathé News was purchased by the Daily Mail and General Trust. Secondly the name was shortened to British Pathé (plc, later Ltd). From 2003 to 2009 the archive was represented by ITN Source and became a respected resource for filmmakers, museums and educators. During this time, the entire archive was digitised in an effort funded partly by the National Lottery.

The British Pathé Ltd logo as it was in 2009

The Independent Archive

In 2009, British Pathé Ltd became, in essence, an independent archive (as opposed to a part of a larger corporation) for the first time in its history. This new era saw the introduction of a museum subscription service, an increase in licensing and programming (notably including The Story of British Pathé, a four-part BBC Four series), and an expansion in the company’s online presence (the entire archive is available to view online for free and is complemented by Facebook, Twitter and WordPress pages, as well as a YouTube channel). In 2012, the archive was awarded “Footage Library of the Year” at the Focal International Awards.

For the foreseeable future, British Pathé looks set to remain a remembered and respected brand within the British cultural consciousness.

British Pathé is always keen for corrections and additional information about its footage and corporate history. Please email us or leave a comment beneath the relevant clip on the website.

A Golden Age: British Pathé from 1933 to 1958

by James Hoyle, archive co-ordinator for British Pathé

This post is Part III of IV.

For the years 1895 to 1910, see blog post “Pathé Before British Pathé”.

For the years 1910 to 1933, see blog post “Establishing Itself”.

For the years 1958 to 2012, see blog post “Decline and Transformation”.

In 1933, British International Pictures purchased the Pathé newsreel and feature film brand from Warner Brothers-First National. Associated British-Pathé was born, under the umbrella of the Associated British Picture Corporation, and soon the Pathé brand was enjoying something of a golden age in the United Kingdom.

In the 1930s, the newsreel staff became increasingly ambitious, providing audiences not only with quantity (one only needs to see News In a Nutshell to know that audiences were enjoying this regular dose of news enough to warrant 340 episodes of it), but also with variety. Would You Believe It?, for instance, is a little-known gem assorting footage of various unusual things from around the world, such as oddly-named streets, strange animals, and bizarre technological breakthroughs. At the same time, Feminine Pictorialities continued the company’s trend of providing for all audiences that had begun with Eve’s Film Review in the 1920s. This “special selection for the ladies” covered bathing and hat fashions, hairstyles, and women’s sport.

The war years, quite unsurprisingly, produced some of the most dramatic material ever captured on film by a newsreel company, including the astonishing events at Dunkirk and the D-Day Landings. But other notable stories from around this time include the destruction of the Hindenburg (which was unbelievably captured live in 1937), the first majority Labour government, the independence of India and Pakistan, and the 1948 London Olympics.

Following the war, despite having been completely separate companies for two decades, the newsreel companies Associated British-Pathé (UK), Pathé Journal (France), and Pathé News Inc (USA) began a unique partnership. In a move celebrated by President Truman, these organisations began sharing footage and cameramen in order to enable news to be more easily distributed worldwide. Pathé Gazette also rebranded itself – from 1946 until 1970, it would be known simply as Pathé News. One of the major stories from this period was the Korean War, that sometimes criminally-forgotten conflict that claimed an estimated 2.5 million lives.

Newsreel staff at work in 1953.

Associated British-Pathé was also busy producing feature films and commercials, and even expanding into the television market. One such production was Film Fanfare, a charming 1950s film magazine show that presented viewers with footage from recent glamorous premieres as well as featuring in-studio interviews, quizzes, and reviews of what are now classic motion pictures. However, the most impressive example of the television work done  was the company’s involvement in Peter Baylis’s Time To Remember. This epic series touched on all aspects of life in the first half of the Twentieth Century, using the original newsreel footage, and was narrated by celebrated actors, including Sir Michael Redgrave and Sir Ralph Richardson. Its charm was such that in 2010, the BBC re-edited and re-broadcast the series for a modern-day audience, retaining much of the original commentary.

But television posed more of a threat than an opportunity for the company, especially for the newsreel staff. They could release the Queen’s coronation in glorious colour, and even film it in 3D(!), but it was not a live broadcast like that of the BBC coverage. Viewers were increasingly not willing to wait. The newsreel format was also beginning to look tired, with outdated patriotism at odds with the postcolonial attitudes of the British public (particularly during the Suez Crisis). By the end of the 1950s, Pathé News was already struggling to compete. The 1960s would witness a shift in the nature of the company’s output as it tried to survive.

British Pathé is always keen for corrections and additional information about its footage and corporate history. Please email us or leave a comment beneath the relevant clip on the website.

Establishing Itself: British Pathé from 1910 to 1933

by James Hoyle, archive co-ordinator for British Pathé

This post is Part II of IV.

For the years 1895 to 1910, see blog post “Pathé Before British Pathé”.

For the years 1933 to 1958, see blog post “A Golden Age”.

For the years 1958 to 2012, see blog post “Decline and Transformation”.

By the time Charles Pathé opened the UK newsreel arm of his company CGPC (established 1896), the Pathé brand was already influential in the world of film production and distribution, as well as a notable record label. A Westminster distribution office had opened as early as 1902, and Pathé-branded movie theatres were spreading across Western Europe. CGPC had invented the newsreel in 1908 for French audiences, and in 1910 spread this innovation to other markets as well. One result was the UK newsreel office located on Wardour Street which produced its first newsreels under the Pathé Animated Gazette label. (That same year, Pathé News was set up in the United States).

The Pathé Building on Wardour Street, London.

Many of these early newsreels are sadly missing. One of the earliest still within the archive is believed to be the departure of the Terra Nova, Captain Scott’s famous ship that took him to the Antarctic. It was a section of the 87th newsreel package, released in cinemas in December of 1910, and was one of eight stories that included flooding in Worcester and a railway crash in Willesden. Other early footage of note includes the coronation of George V, the RMS Titanic, and the death of suffragette Emily Davison.

The archive also contains an extensive collection of World War One material, much of which remains unidentified. Dates and locations are often unclear. Cataloguing is not helped by a lack of clarity over which events have been captured as they occurred and which are staged (photographers and cameramen were not above posing corpses for a better shot). Regardless, the material remains incredible to view. Though silent, grainy, and black-and-white, the footage is often awesome and sometimes harrowing. The faces of the daring recruits, huddled in their trenches, many about to die, are preserved for posterity. It is a shame that we cannot put a name to them.

Footage from the Western Front … probably.
In this case the faces of the soldiers are hidden by chilling gas masks.

From 1918, CGPC began to be run as two separate divisions, with Pathé-Cinema (films and newsreels) under the control of Charles Pathé, and Pathé Records (music) overseen by brother Émile Pathé. This was the first step towards the eventual splintering of the company that can cause endless headaches for anyone attempting to trace the history of the Pathé brand:

  • The USA Pathé-Cinema arm (including Pathé News) was sold in 1921. It was run by Pathé Exchange and then RKO Radio Pictures, which shut down the film production arm. Warner Brothers purchased the newsreel arm in 1947 before selling it to Studio Films. Pathé News disappeared from cinemas in the 1950s.
  • In 1927, CGPC also sold the UK arm of Pathé-Cinema, which included both the film production office and the newsreel office, to First National, forming First National-Pathé.
  • In 1928 CGPC sold the French and UK arms of Pathé Records to the British Columbia Graphophone Company. The USA arm of Pathé Records was sold the following year to the American Record Corporation. Its assets now lie with Sony.
  • The remaining assets of CGPC (such as the French film production arm, the international cinema chain, and the French Pathé Journal newsreels) were taken over by Bernard Natan to form Pathé-Natan. It changed hands a few times after that before becoming the present-day film company “Pathé”. Pathé Journal continued until 1981. Its newsreel archive now lies with Gaumont-Pathé.

This was the complicated process by which the UK newsreel company became divorced from its overseas parent and sister companies, never to be reunited. Pathé-branded newsreel and film production in the UK was now on its own.

Audiences could watch – and, thanks to the introduction of sound, hear – Albert Sandler playing “Hungarian Dance” by Brahms in this 1930 edition of Pathetone Weekly.

As First National-Pathé, newsreels were released under the name of Pathé Gazette and an internationally-distributed newsreel was produced from Wardour Street – Pathetone Weekly. But the great innovation of this period was, of course, the introduction of sound in 1930. This brought a new immediacy and reality to the footage, despite the limitations of early technology.

Sound also allowed newsreels to start including interviews, and one early interviewee was the Editor of the Pathé Gazette himself, upon the occasion of the UK newsreel’s twenty-first anniversary. In the clip, the Editor takes the opportunity to look back on what his company has achieved so far and on the recent history that has been captured by the Pathé cameramen. We may not be able to witness the Norman Conquest or the Great Fire of London, the Editor says, but we can relive history which has been preserved through the magic of newsreels: “One of cinema’s greatest privileges is to be able to bring back the past.” The company had proven its worth.

A title card from a Pathé Super Sound Gazette.

But in 1931, Warner Brothers purchased First National and formed Warner Brothers-First National and the future of the Pathé brand looked uncertain. That is, until 1933, when the golden age of British Pathé really began.

British Pathé is always keen for corrections and additional information about its footage and corporate history. Please email us or leave a comment beneath the relevant clip on the website, www.britishpathe.com.