British Pathé opens its archives: London’s last Tram, 1930’s Barcelona & more

phpThumbCinema newsreel maker British Pathé has made all of its 85,000 films, spanning 1896 to 1976, available on YouTube.

News that British Pathé has added all 85,000 of its films to its YouTube channel should come with a health warning: dip a toe in its archival stream and you risk losing all sense of time and place – and half a day. More than 3,500 hours of newsreel include classics such as the Hindenburg disaster and Arnold Schwarzenegger at Mr Universe 1969, but is best viewed as a captivating resource for personal historians.

The vast digital library spans 1896 to 1976. A search function allows you enter any word you like – your street perhaps, or favourite childhood haunt. What might you discover?. A couple of delicious samples:

London Last Tram (1952)

New Cross and Westminster. GV. Trams running, pan to another. SV. Sign on tram “London’s Last Tram Week”. SV. The last private tram, surrounded by crowd (this tram was used to aid paralysis fund.) CU. Chalked inscription on front of tram “Going Cheap complete with tea can”.

SCU. London Transport workers, looking up at tram. LV. Last private tram starting on journey.

SV. Ethel Revnall (Comedienne) riding on platform of tram. STV. Procession of old-time cars following behind. CU. Pan, people in old-time costumes riding in an old-time car, they are driving down London’s Old Kent Road.

LV. The last private tram passing through crowd at the New Cross Depot.

GV. Night time – flares illuminating the passage of London’s last tram. SV. Crowds lining road – people looking from windows. SV. The last tram – a No. 40. Crowd. SV. Last tram arriving at depot, pan to crowd. SV. Man with banner standing on top of tram, pan down to special board. CU. Lord Latham congratulating driver. (Orig. Neg.) (Title scene “K”).

Bill From Barcelona (1930)

“Bill” is a diminutive engine, which takes people round the great Exhibition’. Various shots of a small steam train pulling three cars of people around Barcelona. The train travels along a small track and covers the heights of the city.

To take your own tour, visit

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