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Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 13:40 UK
Pathé films provide a stunning view of Devon's past
By Laura Joint
BBC Devon

Winston Churchill in Plymouth 1941
An image from the footage of Winston Churchill visiting Plymouth in 1941

Amazing archive footage of events in Devon dating back to 1902 has been put online by British Pathé.

The films show some of the biggest news stories of the last century as well as Royal visits and events such as Widecombe Fair in 1947.

British Pathé has just relaunched its website and is keen for people to make the most of the free resource.

And they are hoping members of the public will be able to recognise themselves or relatives in the clips.

"We have been updating our website and we've realised that a lot of people don't realise these films are here," said Victoria Spiegelberg from British Pathé.

King Edward VII in Dartmouth in 1902
King Edward VII in Dartmouth in 1902

"We want people to know they are here and they are free to view."

The earliest film shot in Devon was in 1902, when King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited Dartmouth Naval College - it would appear, to lay a foundation stone.

In fact, it would have been one of British Pathé's earliest films, as it was established in 1902.

Other clips include Winston Churchill visiting Plymouth following the blitz in 1941; Nancy Astor going to the polls in 1919; the Lynmouth flood disaster of 1952; the All Blacks playing at Devonport in 1924; the first motor car to visit Clovelly in 1920; the moving house in Exeter in 1961, and Sir Francis Chichester's solo circumnavigation in 1966-67.

"We have over 500 films of Devon, and there is a lot of film of Plymouth during the war," said Victoria.

"But many of the films don't have the details about who is in them so we have been contacting family history groups in Devon.

"We would like people to take a look to see if they or older relatives are in the films."

Pathé potted history

Pathé was initially established in Paris in the 1890s and is named after company founder Charles Pathé.

After 1928, sound was introduced and by 1930, British Pathé were covering news, entertainment, sport, culture and women's issues.

By the time Pathé eventually stopped producing the cinema newsreel in 1970, they had accumulated a rich assortment of historical footage including the Titanic in Belfast, Queen Victoria's funeral, the Hindenburg disaster, Elvis Presley and Albert Einstein.

The archive contains over 3,500 hours of filmed history, 90,000 news items and 12 million stills.

You can look for places or names using the search engine on the British Pathé website.

There are also links from our photo gallery.

To view a selection of the Devon films, visit these links:

From the archives: BBC news films
25 Jan 10 |  History
A-Z of Devon history
08 Oct 09 |  History


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