Tuesday, May 04, 2010

British Pathé

I'm not a big surfer (of the web or the aquatic variety). With the former I like to think I don't have the time and tend to think I should be doing something more worthwhile and with regard to the latter, I am geographically and climatically disadvantaged.

I have a few websites I visit regularly - news and journalism sites, my favourite blogs, inevitably wikipedia and youtube and a few others. However, a website really has to grab me in order to make me consider making any sort of long term commitment.

Via a link in a blog I found over the weekend I landed on the British Pathé archive. I'm completely hooked. Pathé was originally a French company that came up with the idea of cinema newsreels. These were short films reporting a summary of the week's news or perhaps just something interesting to report from around the world. These were shown before the main cinema feature film and each newsreel was preceded by the distinctive Pathé rooster crowing.

The original link I was directed to is simply of a housewife visiting various shops and going about her daily business in an unremarkable area of north London in 1948. It's three years after the end of the Second World War so food rationing is still in place. The interesting thing to me is that it is my part of north London and the street she lives in (Crescent Road) adjoins the road where I currently live. I can see now somebody walking around the same streets that I walk around now, but 62 years ago. The street layout is exactly the same now as it was then. The Town Hall is unchanged. Incredibly, the fishmonger is still a fishmonger. I don't suppose it's of much interest to most people but here it is.

Housewife's Story

I tried a few other searches and found some footage from 1938 of the village I grew up in, 240 miles from London.

Gypsy Farm Fair - Yarm - Yorks

The fair still visits Yarm every year although it's now a fun fair with no horse-trading but I remember us being told at school about the original purpose and history of Yarm Fair but until now I'd only ever seen a few old photographs.

The archive spans the globe. I encourage you to try a few searches, maybe where you live, or a subject that interests you and I'm sure you'll find something to watch. The archive is comprehensive so there is some really weird and eclectic (and yes, sometimes plain boring) stuff in there but the good stuff is absoutely gripping. The quality is often poor and sound often missing but to me, that just proves they've saved everything which is what a proper archive should be. It should be comprehensive and not selective. I've lost a lot of hours in here this weekend.


nursemyra said...

Yes, one could easily get lost on that site and never come out. Have you seen the beating heart that Dali designed?


King of Scurf said...

Yupp.....that's Dali for ya....it's a bit ooky.