Six wonderful old films of York from British Pathé newsreels

18 Apr 2014 @ 8.16 pm
| History


A few days ago, British Pathé uploaded all its films to YouTube. Among the 3,500 hours of newsreels is some cracking footage of York. Here’s six of the best…

City Of York (1930-1939)

A two minute tour of York, taking in the classic shots of the Guildhall and Minster. You can also see the dark millstone prison walls which enclosed Clifford’s Tower: the prison was demolished in 1934.

“The City of York stands on the banks of the River Ouse: a monument to all that is best in our history,” says the commentary – a slogan that could be used by Visit York to this day.

York – Scouts New Boat (1939)

The Sea Cadets take their new boat, Catherine Rose – complete with radio and searchlight – for its maiden voyage along the River Ouse.

We learn that the boys join the Navy League Sea Cadets at 12 and leave at 18, training three nights a week, and many go on to join the Royal Navy.

Longest One Day Race (1963)

With the Tour de France on its way, here’s a reminder that York’s long been a cycling city.

Cyclists set off from London to York in the Daily Mail Road Event, the longest race in the British cycling calendar. The winner is Albert Hitchin of the Viking club.

They are heading for Knavesmire, where the Cycling Tourists Club rally is well underway. We see footage of the Cycling Families Competition, judged on “smartness of families and originality of equipment”.

York City Team In Training (1938)

They weren’t the Minstermen when the British Pathé cameras arrived at Bootham Crescent in 1938 – they were the “Cathedral Boys”.

The short film shows the players training ahead of their FA Cup against Middlesbrough on February 12, 1938 – which they won 1-0.

This brought them a quarter final against Huddersfield when a record breaking crowd of 28,123 (among them Foreign Secretary Viscount Halifax) packed into Bootham Crescent for the 0-0 draw. They lost the replay 2-1.

Races For Charity (1962)

The stars come to York Racecourse for a Variety Club fundraiser. Actress Rita Tushingham, who had wowed cinema audiences the year before with her film debut A Taste of Honey, is helped from the coach by Roger Moore, who began his role as TV’s The Saint that year.

Starlets Liz Fraser, June Thorburn and Carole Lesley are also in the crowd, with Patrick Macnee, then a year into his role as John Steed in The Avengers. Billy Butlin is also seen, talking to a jockey and later presenting a trophy.

Piccadilly In York (1938)

Aghast Londoners were told that there was another city with a street called Piccadilly – York. Clearly not a lot of research had been done into this film as it mentions “the Fisherman’s Postern” – aka the Fishergate Postern – before turning to the “old castle house” – aka Walmgate Bar.

Some interesting footage here of “a house within the walls, and on the line a show of smalls”. “It’s the house on the arch,” the commentator concludes, “which is a lot better than being underneath the arches.”

Job done, he probably went off for a stiff Scotch at his Pall Mall club.