British Pathe

In the ‘olden days’ – not so long ago – when you bought a ticket to the cinema, it didn’t just buy you a few adverts, coming attractions and main feature. Oh no. It provided you with a whole experience; adverts, coming attractions, newsreels, second feature, intermission for ice creams or Kia-Ora orange juice, and then the main feature.  The programme kept going all day, from around 10 in the morning, on a continuous loop, until the National Anthem just before midnight.

I remember going with a friend to see West Side Story at what is now the Glasgow Film Theatre in Rose Street. (I also saw its predecessor Romeo and Juliet there too, but that’s a whole other story.) We walked in during the last half hour, just as Tony (Romeo) intervened in a fight between Barnardo (Tybalt) and Riff (Mercutio) resulting in the latter being killed.

No matter that we now knew the ending, we sat through the adverts, coming attractions, newsreel, second feature and intermission then watched West Side Story from beginning to end.

In those days, the newsreels were provided by British Pathe. I recently discovered, through the BBC History Magazine, that British Pathe has established a website which opens the door to an Ali Baba’s Cave of newsreel treasures.

Out of curiosity, I typed in Forth Road Bridge because I clearly remember watching a newsreel (can’t remember the film I went to see but it was at the ABC in Sauchiehall Street) on its opening.

And there it was.

The internet’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it?


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