THE BRITISH PATHÉ TUMBLR BLOG

The British Pathé archive is the world's finest digital news collection. All 85K films are viewable online via our YouTube channel and website.
Almost 55 years ago, the streets of London witnessed what Pathé News at the time rightly labelled a “shameful episode”. More than three hundred people suddenly attacked West Indian immigrants living on Bramley Road in Notting Hill, London.
British Pathé produced a short newsreel on the attacks. The film has a very different tone to the sort of news broadcasts one would see on television today, at least in Britain. It is an angry denunciation of the riots, containing a particularly powerful commentary which is worth repeating in full:
Something new and ugly raises its head in Britain. In Notting Hill Gate, only a mile or two from London’s West End - racial violence. An angry crowd of youths chases a negro into a green grocer shop while police reinforcements are called up to check the riot, one of many that have broken out here in a few days. The injured victim, a Jamaican, is taken to safety. But the police have not been able to reach all the trouble spots so promptly and the quietest street may flare up at any moment. The most disturbing feature of the riots is the suspicion that not all the troublemakers are locals, for some of the gangs who break windows or throw bottles or burning torches have arrived by car. Opinions differ about Britain’s racial problems. But the mentality which tries to solve them with coshes and broken railings has no place in the British way of life. This violence is evil and the law and public opinion must stamp it out.
The 1958 newsreel can be viewed online here.

Almost 55 years ago, the streets of London witnessed what Pathé News at the time rightly labelled a “shameful episode”. More than three hundred people suddenly attacked West Indian immigrants living on Bramley Road in Notting Hill, London.

British Pathé produced a short newsreel on the attacks. The film has a very different tone to the sort of news broadcasts one would see on television today, at least in Britain. It is an angry denunciation of the riots, containing a particularly powerful commentary which is worth repeating in full:

Something new and ugly raises its head in Britain. In Notting Hill Gate, only a mile or two from London’s West End - racial violence. An angry crowd of youths chases a negro into a green grocer shop while police reinforcements are called up to check the riot, one of many that have broken out here in a few days. The injured victim, a Jamaican, is taken to safety. But the police have not been able to reach all the trouble spots so promptly and the quietest street may flare up at any moment. The most disturbing feature of the riots is the suspicion that not all the troublemakers are locals, for some of the gangs who break windows or throw bottles or burning torches have arrived by car. Opinions differ about Britain’s racial problems. But the mentality which tries to solve them with coshes and broken railings has no place in the British way of life. This violence is evil and the law and public opinion must stamp it out.

The 1958 newsreel can be viewed online here.

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 Christmas period…

Queen Opens New London Airport Terminal

(16 December)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

British Pathé on Pinterest: New Boards

British Pathé only recently joined Pinterest, but we’re really enjoying sharing our stills and have just created two new boards. One, In the News…  has stills from our archive that are relevant to recent news stories or important anniversaries. The other, our Science and Technology board, features natural events and disasters, key British inventions, and bizarre vintage tech.

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! Our Pinterest page also features war stills, fashion and beauty images, popular YouTube videos, and more.

Visit our Pinterest page.

Secret Code Found on Dead Pigeon

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Wife of the First Lord of the Admiralty thanks a War Pigeon – 1944

BBC News reports on 23 November 2012 that a dead pigeon with a secret code attached to its leg has been found in a chimney in Surrey. A red canister was found fastened to the WW2 carrier pigeon and inside the container was a piece of paper containing the code. The cipher was sent off to the intelligence service GCHQ but they have been unable to make sense of what the 27 blocks of code mean and so they have asked the public for help.

Sadly Pathé are unable to help on that front. However, we thought it a good opportunity to pay tribute to these army carrier pigeons who were extensively used as military messengers during WW1 and WW2. Over 100,000 pigeons served Britain in WWI and over 250,000 served the UK in WW2. These winged warriors were used for their homing ability, rapidity and elevation to carry important information from behind enemy lines.

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WW1 Army Pigeon

The most heroic pigeon during WW1 was Cher Ami. Despite being shot through the breast, Cher Ami still managed to deliver a message in his capsule and in turn saved 200 US soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division’s “Lost Battalion”.

GI Joe was an American hatched pigeon who carried a message through an artillery bombardment in Italy during the Second World War and consequently saved the inhabitants of Calvi Vecchia in Italy and the units of the 56th London division. The village was due to be bombarded by the Allied forces but the message that the British had captured the village, delivered by G.I. Joe, arrived just in time to avoid the bombing. G.I Joe’s tenacity, strength and bravery saved over a thousand lives. He was awarded the Dickin Medal, the Victoria Cross of the feathered world, in 1946.

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G.I. Joe with his Dickin Medal

34 pigeons were decorated with the Dickin Medal and we have a few of the awards ceremonies within the archive. Watch Paddy and Gustav receive their Dickin Medal. Paddy was an Irish carrier pigeon and received the award having flown 230 miles across the English Channel in 4hrs55mins. He was the fastest pigeon to arrive back in England with news of the D-Day victory.

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Paddy and Gustav with their Dickin medals – 1944

Watch Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret despatch a homing pigeon.

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Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret with a homing pigeon – 1943

The Pathé Animation Archive

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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.

 
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Jerry was a cartoon dog from the silent era who actually “worked” for Pathe News.


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“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.

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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.

 
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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.

To search our Animation Archive, click here.