There was delight and appreciation at a recent evening of old newsreel films made by British Pathe between 1897 and 1970, organised by Swindon Link in association with Swindon Library.
Mark Harris, head of online marketing at British Pathe, pictured with the Mayor and Mayoress Rex and Sandra Barnett, was invited by The Link magazine to present archive news clips featuring Swindon which are amongst the 90,000 short news reports now available to view online free of charge. Introducing the evening he showed some of the historic film in the Pathe archive including the dramatic scenes of the Hindenburg airship crashing to the ground in flames, the inner city destitution of the 1930s and the slums toured by the Prince of Wales, and the unique film of the Dunkirk beaches.
Showing Pathe films made in Swindon, there was intrigue to see soldiers’ sports on Empire Day in 1918 and the huge crowds for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1924.
The mayoress Sandra Barnett, librarian Roger Trayhurn and Haydon Wick resident Brenda Hedges remembered being in the 1950s crowd to see Princess Elizabeth visiting the town recorded by Pathe. She opened a garden of remembrance in Queen’s Park, launched Moredon playing fields and watched her name being cast in Swindon’s railway works before riding in the cab of an engine she unveiled as Princess Elizabeth, right, plus other stills from the British Pathe archive.
And there were cheers for the 1969 Pathe film of Swindon Town’s historic victory over Arsenal at Wembley with legend Don Rogers putting away two goals. Brian Hedges from Haydon Wick was there. "I remember being in the stands with my three brothers; an incredible day. It was great to see the film again on a large screen."
The mayor Rex Barnett thanked Mark and The Link for putting on a fascinating and unique evening. “What a great evening. It was amazing to see scenes from my younger days. Evenings at the cinema were an important part of our week and Pathe newsreels always started it off. These films are such an important part of our heritage. It was incredible to see the robes I wear today as mayor in the shots of important civic events.”
Mark Harris said, “it was great to listen to people’s comments and know they have close connections to the films in the Pathe archive.”
See the Pathe films about Swindon at http://bit.ly/swindonpathe
British Pathe: www.britishpathe.com
Above, the plaque unveiled in 1951, now mounted at Steam, Museum of the Great Western Railway in Swindon