10 wonderful archive films of York from British Movietone newsreels

A smartly-dressed York racegoer ahead of the 1910 Ebor Handicap. Photograph: British Movietone / YouTube
5 Aug 2015 @ 1.02 pm
| History

British Movietone is one of the world’s great newsreel archives, with films dating between 1895 and 1986.

Recently it put thousands of its films on YouTube, and it is a wonderful historic resource.

We’ve tracked down ten which feature York, from 1910 to the Seventies…

The National Railway Museum opens

In 1975 Prince Philip came to York to open the National Railway Museum, and British Movietone’s cameras were there.

The film shows the first days of the NRM, and some of its famous exhibits. And it focuses on the 150th anniversary of steam railways.

York City vs Newcastle United

Fifty years ago, in March 1955, York City’s cup heroics earned them the nickname the Happy Wanderers after a popular song of the day.

The team made it all the way through to the FA Cup semi finals, defeating Tottenham and Blackpool on the way.

In the semi-final at Hillsborough, Sheffield, City held mighty Newcastle 1-1 – and would have been Wembley bound had the referee disallowed what many saw as a perfectly good goal by striker Arthur Bottom.

As the commentator says, “The honours undoubtedly went to York”.

Anyway, the Happy Wanderers had become the first-ever Third Division side to earn an FA Cup semi-final replay. They lost 2-0 at Roker Park, Sunderland, and the dream was over.

Funeral of Archbishop of York

More than 2,000 people attended the funeral of Dr Cyril Garbett, the Archbishop of York, in the Minster in 1956.

The Princess Royal represented the Queen at the ceremony.

Naturally the Minster is covered in scaffolding…

Leeds to York on rollerskates

This is slightly bizarre – a race between two teams of rollerskaters, from Leeds and Wakefield, to York and back.

Blink and you’ll miss the turnaround at York. Then the increasingly weary skaters make their way to Leeds.

Inland Waterways Festival

“You could call it a kind of motor rally on water,” says the commentator. Boats of all shapes and sizes descend on York for the Inland Waterways National Festival.

It’s a sunny 1975 on the River Ouse, and the Lord Mayor Jack Birch – himself a keen rower – and wife Eileen took to the water.

As is traditional with boats, there is a lot of waving to and from the banks.

World Archery Championships

Who knew York hosted so many unusual sporting contests?

This time it’s back to 1971 when the World Archery Championships were held here on what looks like Knavesmire.

Fittingly for the height of the Cold War, an American won the men’s event, and a Russian took the women’s honours.

This was the final competition before archery became an Olympic sport in 1972.

York Races in 1910

There’s no sound on this one, but the pictures take us back to a bygone era.

This was 1910, a time when York race-going gentlemen wore waxed beards and boaters or bowlers, and the ladies long Edwardian dresses and bonnets, and carried parasols.

It was the Ebor Handicap, won by Claretoi. A real piece of history.

Lester Piggott – royal jockey

“Everyone at York Races was ready to congratulate Lester Piggott, who was wearing the Queen’s colours for the first time,” the commentary begins.

He rode Perambulator in the Middleham Nursery Stakes – even thought he was unplaced in the 1954 race, “it was still a great day for Lester Piggott”.

You can see British Pathé’s take on the same story in our article here.

Crumbling cathedral

“Gothic magnificence could become a shambles of tumbled stone.”

That’s how the Movietone team reported the 1967 survey which discovered that York Minster was in danger of collapse.

The film shows the cracks around the cathedral, and the work by Mr Harvey, one of the Minster’s stonemasons.

It took till 1972 to raise the £2 million needed to shore up the great church and save it for future generations.

Colourful York

No sound on this, just some stock shots of York from what looks like the 1970s.

The Minster features, with views across the city from the top, as does Micklegate Bar and Museum Street. The old City Of York sign is prominent too.