On this day… This week round-up

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.

HMS Thunderbolt.

Cheltenham Gold Cup  (15 March)

Tomorrow, the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup will take place. British Pathé has footage of the very first Gold Cup jump race, in 1924. Watch the film here.

Six Nations: England v Wales  (16 March)

On Saturday, England will play Wales in a deciding game. England’s 1924 Grand Slam can be viewed here.

Marshal Tito visits London  (16 March)

60 years ago, the leader of Yugoslavia came to Britain and met the Prime Minister in London and toured Cambridge. British Pathé newsreels covered the state visit. You can view them here.

50 years since the death of Sir William Beveridge  (16 March)

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

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.

Past Popes

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:

Benedict XV – died 1922

Pius XI British Pathé filmed the election of Benedict XV’s successor, who served from 1922 until his own death in 1939.

Pius XII – Pope from 1939 until 1958.

John XXIII – Pope from 1958 until 1963.

Paul VI Pope from 1963 until 1978.


Football History: England Against Wales

“However much they try the English can’t get that goal, the Welsh defence resist all attacks!”

Wales defeat England 2-1 (1955): http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=39923

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”

Wales defeat England 1-0 at Wembley (1940): http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=25137

Bryn Jones scores the only goal in this match, good shots of England missing a penalty and a very jolly brass band soundtrack from Pathé mixed in with the live cheering.


“Every minute the fight is getting tougher! Then England fade away and give Wales another win”

Wales defeat England 4-2 in Cardiff (1938): http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=20773

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!


Wales defeat England (1926): http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=24695

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.



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:



General Welsh history enthusiasts might also like this archive footage collection of Wales: http://www.britishpathe.com/workspace.php?id=6079

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

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

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

Take a look at these:

Portmeirion – Beauty And The Beast (1939)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

England’s Youngest Public School (1927)

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

Be seeing you!

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