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From the archives: BBC news films in Devon

The BBC Devon website has compiled a series of archive films which reflect some of the big stories in Devon and how times have changed.

This is a work in progress - we'll be adding to the page over the coming months.

And if there is a story or event which you'd like to see, let us know by using the form at the bottom of this page. We can't promise we'll be able to find it, but we'll do our best.

For more information and to view the films, use the video links on the page.

The Lynmouth flood disaster of 1952:

Flooding at Lynmouth
The Lynmouth flood, 1952

This film shows the aftermath of the August 1952 Lynmouth flood disaster in which 34 people lost their lives.

The black and white news film, which has intermittent sound, contains detailed footage of wrecked property and interviews.

In one interview, a local fisherman describes how boats were swept away and recounts his desperate struggle to reach his wife and family.

The Tamar Road Bridge is opened, 1961 and 1962:

Tamar Road Bridge, 1961
The Tamar Road Bridge, 1961

Watch BBC film of the Tamar Road Bridge being built in 1961 and opened in 1962.

The Tamar Bridge cost over £1.5 million and was opened to traffic in October 1961.

It was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother on 26 April 1962.

Note: This film is mostly without sound.

The big freeze of 1963:

The Big Freeze of 1963
The Big Freeze of 1963

In early 1963, Devon and Cornwall suffered the biggest snowfalls in recent times.

Dartmoor was particularly badly hit and helicopters had to fly in emergency supplies to communities. They also dropped feed for stranded livestock.

The blizzards caused snow drifts measuring several feet high, and many people were trapped for days on end.

The Beatles in Plymouth, 1964 and 1967:

Beatles in Plymouth, 1964
Beatles in Plymouth, 1964

Watch BBC news footage of two visits by The Beatles to Plymouth.

The first part of the film shows the Beatles in Plymouth for a concert in 1964 and features snippets of interviews.

The second part of the film shows footage of their visit to the city to film their 1967 movie, Magical Mystery Tour.

Steam train on Dartmoor, 1954:

Steam train on Dartmoor, 1954
Steam train on Dartmoor, 1954

An extract from the BBC TV documentary film 'Brief Journey', filmed to mark the opening of the South West's first television transmitter in 1954.

The clip follows a Royal Navy sailor on a train journey across Dartmoor, starting from Plymouth station.

At Yelverton, he changes onto the long closed King Tor branch line which takes him past Burrator Reservoir.

The film has a descriptive commentary from Charles Stidwell.

The decimation of Devon's railway network, 1958:

Teign Valley Railway, 1958
Teign Valley Railway, 1958

During the 1950s and 1960s, many of Devon's branch lines were closed down.

Among them, the Teign Valley Railway Line between Heathfield and Exeter.

This film shows footage of its last day of passenger services in 1958 - the line was closed altogether in 1968.

Chichester's round-the-world voyage, 1967:

Chichester, 1967
Sir Francis Chichester, 1967

On 28 May 1967 crowds of 250,000 turned out in Plymouth to welcome home Devon yachtsman Francis Chichester.

This archive footage shows the huge flotilla of boats that came out to greet him.

Chichester had just sailed his yacht, Gypsy Moth IV, around the world in what was the first true circumnavigation via the three Capes of Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, making only one stop.

Pele in Plymouth, 1973:

Pele in Plymouth, 1973
Pele in Plymouth, 1973

Watch archive BBC footage of Brazilian football legend Pele and his Santos team playing Plymouth Argyle at Home Park in 1973.

Santos played Plymouth as part of their European tour in March 1973. Amazingly, Argyle won 3-2 in front of 37,639 people.

Brazil were, of course, the World Champions at that time having won the 1970 World Cup.

Little Poland in Devon, 1966

Little Poland, 1966
Little Poland, 1966

At the end of the war, 45 hostels were opened across the UK to house the 200,000 exiled Poles who had fought alongside the Allies.

One of them was Ilford Park at Stover near Newton Abbot. It soon became known as 'Little Poland' after its opening in 1948.

It was like a home for home for the residents.

This film is a part of a 1966 BBC South West documentary.

Sailors return from Falklands War, 1982:

Falklands return
Sailors return from the Falklands, 1982

Watch BBC South West footage of Plymouth-based naval ships returning from the Falklands War in 1982.

The film shows ships being greeted back by flag-waving well-wishers at Devonport following the conflict.

Note: There is no commentary on this film.

Foot-and-mouth outbreaks, 2001:

Foot-and-mouth sign
Foot-and-mouth sign at the farm

This BBC South West film was broadcast on the day of the outbreak of the first foot-and-mouth case in Devon in 2001.

It was the first of 173 cases in the county in all, and 400,000 animals were culled - many as contiguous cull cases rather than definite outbreaks.

The report comes from the site of the farm near Highampton.

Henry Williamson interview, 1965:

Henry Williamson
Henry Williamson, 1965

Watch a rare BBC interview with Tarka the Otter author Henry Williamson, first shown in 1965.

Williamson is interviewed in his garden in this black and white film.

He talks about how the Devon countryside influenced his writing, his knowledge of animals and the book he was writing at the time.

The 1976 drought:

1976 drought
The 1976 drought

This film is from the long hot summer of 1976.

In Devon, reservoirs were reduced to a trickle of water and standpipes were introduced in communities across the county.

But for the holiday trade, it was a bumper year.

Please note, there is no commentary on these BBC South West pictures.

Bank holiday invasion of Devon, 1973:

Holiday traffic, 1973
Bank holiday traffic, 1973

Watch BBC South West's humorous take on the bank holiday exodus to Devon at Easter 1973.

In this news clip, reporter Keith Blackler takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the Bank Holiday traffic bottlenecks suffered by visitors to Devon and Cornwall.

And he describes the 'genus grockle automobilus' - the strange instinct that compels visitors to migrate to the South West by car every summer.


We would be very interested if you had any information, film-wise, regarding the Church Rocks Wreck discovered off of Teignmouth and the second film of interest would be the visit by the Beatles in 1967.
Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum, 1 February 2010



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SEE ALSO
The 1952 Lynmouth flood disaster
22 Jan 10 |  History
Dartmoor steam train - archive film
21 Jan 10 |  History
Chichester's round-the-world voyage
22 Jan 10 |  History
Pele in Plymouth, 1973 - archive film
22 Jan 10 |  History
A clip from A Place Called Home
04 Dec 09 |  People & Places
Bank holiday traffic 1973
22 Jan 10 |  History
A-Z of Devon history
08 Oct 09 |  History
A History of the World - in Devon
18 Jan 10 |  History

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