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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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A History of British Invention

A great British invention? A motorised bath designed by students in Surrey.
A great British invention? A motorised bath designed by students in Surrey.

2012 has been an ego-boosting year for the British. With the success of the Diamond Jubilee, the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics, it wouldn’t be a bad year to go out on (and we will have to if the predictions of our impending doom become a reality on 21st December). With the aim of blowing our own trumpets a little more, we searched the archive for footage of good British inventions. Unfortunately, there were also many dodgy ones in there too. So, in the interest of balance, we thought we’d share both the good and the not-so-good contraptions created by Brits during the Twentieth Century that footage exists of in the British Pathé archive.

Good

Our collection of good British inventions includes not only the famous ones, but also inventions by members of the public that seem to serve some practical purpose. Here are some highlights. We’re mainly limiting ourselves to technological creations, rather than things like particular sports or habits. In each case, you can click on the still to be taken to some vintage footage of that invention, or you can search the catch-all collection we’ve created here.

One of our favourites, this. A film from 1922 shows what appears to be an early mobile phone!
One of our favourites, this. A film from 1922 shows what appears to be an early mobile phone!

In a similar category as the early mobile phone above is this film of what seems to be a 1920s Walkman that we recently posted on our YouTube channel. We’ve embedded it below.

But now onto the bona fide British inventions in the archive that came after the quirky (but impressive) attempts above, the first dating from the mid-1920s:

"When will the next marvel...television...become commonplace? A few years ago a Scientist named Baird experimented with this crude machine...." Newsreel covers the invention of television.
“When will the next marvel…television…become commonplace? A few years ago a Scientist named Baird experimented with this crude machine….” Newsreel covers the invention of television.
The De Havilland Comet, a record-making plane, built in Britain. It first flew in 1949.
The De Havilland Comet, a record-making plane, built in Britain. It first flew in 1949.
Okay, so this isn't a piece of technology, but we thought it was interesting. The British invented the pedestrian crossing in 1868.
Okay, so this isn’t a piece of technology, but we thought it was interesting. The British invented the pedestrian crossing in 1868. Zebra crossings were used from 1949.
Hovercraft.
A 1950s British invention – the Hovercraft.
Concorde
We can’t claim full credit for this as the French did help a bit. The Concorde had its debut flight in 1969 and was retired in 2003.
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The Harrier Jump Jet was also an invention of the 1960s and is still in use.

And where would we all be without our hover barrows? Something that didn't quite catch on, but is undoubtedly a good idea.
And where would we all be without our hover barrows? Something that didn’t quite catch on, but it’s undoubtedly a good idea.

For some more, visit this collection.

Not-So-Good

And now to the disheartening other ones. Contrast the inventions above (even the 1920s Walkman and mobile phone) with these eccentric and/or useless creations. Click the stills to watch the film that they’re taken from or search our collection of dodgy inventions here.

Goggle Wipers for those rainy British days.
Goggle Wipers for those rainy British days.
If driving's not enough excitement for you, why not try these motorised roller skates? The video does not convince us that they're particularly safe.
If driving’s not enough excitement for you, why not try these motorised roller skates? The video does not convince us that they’re particularly safe.
Can't decide whether to spend your next holiday in a caravan or on a boat? With this amphibious caravan, you can have both!
Wondering whether to spend your next holiday in a caravan or on a boat? With this amphibious caravan, you can do both!
Control your own robot gardener with this compact control board from 1959.
Control your own robot gardener with this compact control board from 1959.
Wear these beauties at night - they'll help you see in the dark.
Wear these beauties at night – they’ll help you see in the dark.
Do you find yourself walking into lamp posts on a semi-regular basis? Don't fret! You can get one of these to warn you of approaching obstacles. From the same film as the face cones above.
Do you find yourself walking into lamp posts on a semi-regular basis? Don’t fret! You can get one of these to warn you of approaching obstacles. From the same film as the face cones above.

For some more, visit this collection.

Have we missed some important good or not-so-good ones that you’ve found in the archive? Are we taking the credit (or blame) for other countries’ inventions? Correct us in the comment box below.

For footage of good inventions, click here.

For footage of not-so-good inventions, click here.

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