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Archive opens to everyone

PUBLISHED: 19:40 20 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:57 16 September 2010

UNTIL recently, it was only available to historians and film researchers. Now the Pathe archive has opened its doors to anyone, providing free access to its incredible historical records - including some from the Great Yarmouth area.

UNTIL recently, it was only available to historians and film researchers. Now the Pathe archive has opened its doors to anyone, providing free access to its incredible historical records - including some from the Great Yarmouth area.

“There are 90,000 individual films on the site,” said Pathe's general manager Alastair White. “We've got all the big history, all the big state occasions. We've reconfigured the website to make it much more accessible to the public. If you go on our advanced search page you can drill down into our archive looking at different decades.”

Wars and famines, technological advances such as early flight and space travel, coronations and sporting occasions like England's victorious 1966 World Cup Final against Germany are included in an archive of newsreels, documentaries and reportage that would literally take a lifetime to watch.

As well as events that shaped history on the world stage, Pathe's cameras also trained their lenses much closer to home.

“We've got various Norwich football matches from years back, and also tons and tons of footage of social interest, people doing everyday things,” said Mr White. “It's like travelling back in time looking at it.”

Various Canaries games include one or two highlights of City's legendary 1958/59 FA Cup run.

People doing ordinary things is literally that. Searching for Norfolk brings up more than 500 items. In November 1925, pathe cameras recorded Queen Alexandra's funeral cortege leaving Sandringham; there are the great floods of 1947 and 1953; the arrival of captured U-boats in Great Yarmouth in 1914, and herring drifters landing their catches.

But many of those who feature in the film clips are unnamed and Pathe is appealing for help with cataloguing its collection.

When the archive was made, the descriptions were written by film researchers for film researchers. For example, a description would simply say a man punting down a river in Norfolk, but it wouldn't say what man and what river.

l To see the pathe archive, go online to www.britishpathe.com.

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