British Pathé uploads 85,000 films to YouTube

British Pathé has uploaded its entire collection of 85,000 vintage news reports and ‘cinemagazines’ to its YouTube channel in order to bring its newsreel archive to an international audience

Still from a PanAm New Horizons: New Zealand film from 1970

British Pathé has uploaded its entire collection of 85,000 vintage news reports and ‘cinemagazines’ to its YouTube channel in order to bring its newsreel archive to an international audience…

With its roots in 1890s Paris, British Pathé became known for its informative filmmaking style and its archive now forms one of the most extensive collections of newsreel footage in existence.

French Pathé started its newsreel service in 1908, opening a London office in 1910, and the Associated British Pathé company was established in 1933. In its heydey the service brought stories of major events – global sports, travel and cultural news – including numerous dispatches from both world wars.

Its 85,000 newsreels (3,500 hours of footage) are now searchable and viewable on youtube.com/user/britishpathe. The archive was originally digitised in 2002 and the current project (managed by German company Mediakraft), will see new content created from British Pathé material, in English and in foreign languages.

The range of subjects covered stretches the course of twentieth-century: there is a lot of footage of troops during wartime; and many reels relating to the royal family, for example. But there is also plenty of wonderful footage which has long since been forgotten – and is now relatively easy to dip into.

The archive has also been catagorised to make searching even easier – so users can go straight to the Weird Newsreels if they wish. But the following examples are all uploads from the last few days.

In colour, here’s the first part of Ageless Iraq, a 1950 film made for the Iraq Petroleum Co. by Graham Wallace:

A history of Lloyds insurer from 1961, This Is Lloyd’s is part re-enactment, part corporate film that tells the story of the company’s emergence from a seventeenth-century coffee shop:

And opening with “Exclusive! Special Release! The First Newsreel Subject Ever Presented in Color (sic)” this film covers the 1940 parade of the The Pasadena Tournament of Roses:

“Our hope is that everyone, everywhere who has a computer will see these films and enjoy them,” says Alastair White, general manager of British Pathé.

“This archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten. Uploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that.

“Whether you’re looking for coverage of the Royal Family, the Titanic, the destruction of the Hindenburg, or quirky stories about British pastimes, it’ll be there on our channel. You can lose yourself for hours.”

British Pathé’s YouTube channel is here while more on the organisation is at britishpathe.com.

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