The Mayor of Swindon coun Rex Barnett will officially launch the initiative by British Pathe to provide easy online access to the news reports and introduce Mark Harris, head of digital marketing, who will talk about British Pathe and its contribution to 20th Century British history, illustrated by newsreel reports from Swindon.
The British Pathe films reported in the September Link impressed the mayor as many showed scenes from his boyhood and time working in the town’s railway works and he agreed to host an evening for anybody interested in the town’s history in the movies. He said, “the famous crowing cockerel at the beginning of a film show heralded the start of a night out at the cinema, featuring important news from around the world, some tragic, some interesting and nearly always ending with an amusing item.
“In those days you didn’t have so much access to television which was a small box in the corner of the living room. Going to the cinema was what everybody did.
“I’m so pleased that Pathe has brought all these reports together on the internet. They give a fascinating insight to what Swindon was like in the past.”
The Swindon collection can be found at http://bit.ly/swindonpathe and features a wide range of subjects from Empire Day celebrations in 1918, the 1921 visit to the GWR works by King Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan, followed in 1924 by George V and Queen Mary with the King climbing into a steam engine cab.
Later in 1951 Princess Elizabeth visited the works and named the Castle Class locomotive Swindon before taking a trip in the cab.
Still with the railways there’s a film from 1934 called ‘Queer Jobs’ telling the world about the work carried out in the railway sheds.
In 1935 the very latest design, the streamlined loco King Henry VII, is unveiled contrasted with a 1938 film about the town’s engine graveyard.
The news clips are not only about trains. Various prototype hovercraft at the Vickers factory in South Marston are filmed being put through their paces. The town’s post war baby boom is given prominence and there is footage of William Morgan’s flower shop, James Smith’s Nursery Shop and Lew Evans jewellers.
RAF Lyneham is featured in many films: former prisoners returning from the Korean War in 1953 and injured soldiers being airlifted back from Malaya in 1958. The new Comet and Hercules aircraft are shown and the 1969 league cup win by Swindon against Arsenal is brought to life in that wonderful narration style used in all Pathe newsreels.
In total British Pathe have 90,000 news reports from 1896 to 1976 covering everything you can imagine at www.britishpathe.com