Thursday September 21, 2017
10 more gems from the archives of British Pathe and Movietone, from the days when newsreels were as much as a part of an evening at the cinema as flat Kia-Ora and teddy boys heckling the screen from the back-row seats -
10) Russian Cars in Britain
Namely the Moskvich 402 and the Gaz Volga M21 at a time when any foreign car was comparatively rare in the UK, let alone ones from behind the Iron Curtain. Neither were seen extensively on British roads although the later 412 was to become a fairly common sight and the latter was a very agreeable big saloon; not unlike a scaled-up Volvo Amazon.
9) The launch of the Mini
From a 2017 perspective, it is difficult to imagine the impact of the Mini; imagine seeing this newsreel in your local ABC as you awaited The Dover Road Mystery followed by Carry On Nurse. The narrator’s reference to the Morris and Austin badge engineering is intriguing, as is briefly seeing the Mini together with its larger BMC stablemates.
8) London Traffic
My guess, judging by some of the cars on display, is that this footage was shot in 1955, showing a London before the advent of pelican crossings, double yellow lines, parking meters and traffic wardens. Police constables still direct the traffic, few cars are fitted with flashing indicators, you can see the drivers of an Austin A40 Dorset and a Standard Vanguard Phase 1 make clear hand signals, and ever third vehicle seems to be an FX3 taxi…
7) Post War Road Safety
Forget EastEnders, Holby City or Casualty (admittedly this is no great challenge) – here is a searing automotive drama that will have you on the edge of your armchairs!
Again, my apologies for the lack of sound but this material is just too interesting not to be included. At the beginning of 1959, London suffered from appalling fogs and although I am a devotee of 1950s pop culture looking at the dim headlamps and the often heater-less cars I am slightly relieved that I was not there at the time…
5) Drive Master
After shaking hands with Stirling Moss, a gentleman with a startling resemblance both to Foggy in Last of the Summer Wine and Mike Berry in Worzel Gummidge, he embarks on the Master Driver Test in his Austin A40 Farina. One cannot help but feel sorry for that poor Hillman Minx on the Ealing Skid Pan.
4) Renault Dauphine Minicabs
The 1961 brainchild of Michael Gotla of Welbeck Motors and not exactly popular with the black cab drivers of the capital. Looking at this news report it is quite noticeable how a Renault Dauphine does not seem to be the most spacious of taxis, even at just a shilling a mile.
3) Used Cars
Featuring a proto-Arthur Daley style car dealer, I especially liked ‘Still Going - 50/- With Engine’, and a hapless motorist who buys an Austin A40 Devon of dubious provenance.
2) 300 MPH Road
Or undercranked footage to make an Austin A55 Cambridge Mk. I travel at approximately 300 mph plus some Incredible shots of the M1 of 56 years ago sans central barriers.
The Hillman Imp
One of my favourite Movietone newsreels; it features the voice of ace announcer Leslie Mitchell and one of my cars of choice, the Hillman Imp. HRH The Duke of Edinburgh inspects the new Rootes Group factory near Paisley. The sight of lines of Imps at the Linwood plant is both nostalgic and rather poignant.