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Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Monday, 12 July 2010 13:41 UK
British Pathé tells the story of London on film

Hammersmith Bridge bombing in the 1930s
A still image of the bombing of Hammersmith Bridge in the 1930s

Archive footage of everyday Londoners gives a remarkable picture of life over the last century.

In a two storey building off Oxford Circus lay 18,000 reels of precious footage that, if watched for an hour a day, would take 10 years to get through.

And it's not just Coronations, famous political speeches and state funerals that catch the eye, it's the everyday stories of Londoners in an ever changing world.

British Pathé has launched its new website allowing users to access every frame of these films and is keen for anyone to contact them who recognises anyone in the films.

General manager Alastair White says British Pathé is considered to have one of the finest newsreel archives in the world with the earliest clip dating back to 1897 of the Boer War.

"There are 90,000 clips in total and they're all available to view online. It's a remarkable archive, it really is," says Alastair.

There are about 17,000 clips relating to London alone in the vaults and British Pathé has a deserved reputation for not only covering the big news stories but also social history.

"If it happened in London, British Pathé filmed it - they went all over the capital," adds Alastair.

Pearly King & Queen in London

"We've got a guy who invented his own diving suit in Twickenham and a wonderful little chap called Alfie who went around Chinese Restaurants in Soho. In fact, we've got a superb film of Soho in the night from the 1950s."

The archive footage is free to watch and also includes footage of the bombing of Hammersmith Bridge in the 1930s, a road sweeper in the 1940s, damage to Acton Vale after a tornado struck in the 1950s and inside the Evening Standard offices in the 1970s.

British Pathe is one of the oldest media companies in the world.

Its roots lie in 1890s Paris where its founder, Charles Pathé, pioneered the development of the moving image.

The company was established in London in 1902, and by 1910 was producing its famous bi-weekly newsreel the Pathé Gazette.

After the First World War it started producing various Cinemagazines as well.

By 1930 it was producing the Gazette, the Pathetone Weekly, the Pathe Pictorial and Eve's Film Review, covering entertainment, culture and womens' issues.

If you have any information on any of the films you see on the British Pathé website, contact them via email: localhistory@britishpathe.com




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