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Snapped! Pathe Freezes 12 Million Moments In History For Access Online

1 October 2003

A collection of more than 12 million historic photographs has been created from Britain's world famous British Pathe newsreel archive for free internet access.

British Pathe's film collection spanning events across most of the twentieth century - and some of the UK's most memorable occasions - has been used to capture millions of historic moments as individual photographs. This is the first time that a picture library has been created on this scale from moving image masters.

The unique new collection is being made freely available to the public for research and teaching through National Lottery support from the New Opportunities Fund.

British Pathe - once as familiar to UK cinema-goers as television news today - is now run by ITN. Among the millions of historic images being made available through this latest internet initiative are scenes of the D-Day landings, which will be commemorated next year in events being supported with lottery money by the New Opportunities Fund.

ITN Archive Marketing Director Peter Fydler opened the collection of British Pathe images to the public today: "We believe the pictures will add real depth and enjoyment to school history projects and other classroom work, not just in the UK but across the world," he said. "Since the digitisation of British Pathe's newsreel archive a year ago, with the support of the New Opportunities Fund, we've been able to let people view most of the important events of the 20th century on film. That access has proved really popular with young people, but it is just as satisfying for older internet users who want to see again events they may only vaguely remember or have heard about from parents and grandparents.

"Now, by using the newsreel archive to create a huge collection of still images, people can have access free of charge to printable pictures which will add to their enjoyment of history".

Enhanced High Resolution versions of the images are also available for the first time to the publishing community and other business users.

Archivists and technicians at ITN, which now operates the British Pathe library, have created the images by re-scanning every single inch of the newsreel's 3,500 hours of 35 mm film. They've produced one still image from every second of film, ranging from the earliest flickering monochrome images of the Boer War in nineteenth-century Africa to the D-Day landings and Pathe's famous coverage of the 'psychedelic London' of the Swinging Sixties.

New Opportunities Fund Chair Baroness Jill Pitkeathley said: "This wonderful new photographic collection complements the fantastic range of lifelong learning resources that has been created through the Fund's £50 million digitisation programme. Through this, British Pathe's original historic newsreel has been digitised and made freely and widely accessible across the world. This latest initiative has constructed a unique photographic resource in an innovative way, shining a light from the present on our past and helping to illuminate our understanding of 20th century history and make learning an enjoyable experience. Pathe and ITN have created a digital magic lantern for the new millennium."

ITN Chief Executive Mark Wood said: "With ITN's history of technical and programming innovation I am delighted that we have been involved in this genuine world first in digital imaging. ITN has been successfully building its archive over the past few years, and this is one more way for us to extend the range of services we offer. School children, "lifelong learners" and professional customers will benefit from this superb pictorial resource of the defining moments of the 21st century".


New Opportunities Fund Press Office 020 7211 1888
ITN Archive Manager Peter Fydler 020 7430 4482
ITN Head of Corporate Affairs Sophie Cohen 020 7430 4857