Glimpse history through old images of Finsbury, in Greater London, England.
A big fire broke out in a Finsbury warehouse on a hot afternoon in 1937.
As the newsreel records the day’s events, we see not just the fire and key moments of the half hour battle to stop it spreading, but also the streets crowded with onlookers, and some great backdrops of the streets and buildings beyond.
In 8 years this has been viewed just 125 times! One of the little gems that deserved to be discovered on YouTube.
Fire In Finsbury (1937) – British Pathé on YouTube
Archery Competition 1938
The brief newsreel records an international women’s archery competition which took place in 1938.
80 archers from 8 countries took part, including teams from the US, France, Belgium, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway and Sweden. There was also one entrant from Switzerland.
We also see some of the buildings surrounding the park where the event took place, a year before the Second World War began.
Archery In Finsbury (1938) – British Pathé on YouTube
Finsbury’s Memorial to Lenin 1942
The Russian revolutionary and politian Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924), better known as Vladimir Lenin, lived in Western Europe from 1900 until the February revolution of Russia in 1917.
In 1902, Lenin lived at 30, Holford Square, Finsbury, London.
To commemorate this, the Borough Council of Finsbury erected a memorial to Lenin in 1942, on what would have been Lenin’s birthday.
Although we can’t hear the speech given by the Societ Ambassador, Mr Ivan Maisky, we see how many people turned out to see the event taking place.
This was during World War II. Look at the scene 14 seconds in. Are those boarded up windows all along the street, and the missing walls used by soldiers to get a better view, due to bomb damage? As the flags park, the vista opens up to show what looks like at least two partly demolished terraces.
Lenin Memorial Unveiled (1942) – British Pathé on YouTube
Finsbury Park Rail Crash 1959
On Monday, 9th November 1959, a locomotive hauling a long line of mineral wagons crashed into the back of a passenger train at Finsbury Park.
The derailment was captured in this silent, black and white footage.
The scene at 1:41 is particularly interesting. Pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles continue using the road beneath the railway bridge, despite the derailed carriage resting against the top of the bridge!
Rail Crash At Finsbury Park (1959) – British Pathé on YouTube
Finsbury in the 1960s
It’s a shame this silent 35mm film only lasts a minute and a half, but despite its brevity we get a good glimpse at what Finsbury’s streets were like in the 1960s.
Looking out the back of a moving vehicle, we see the mixture of modern and old buildings, streets that look almost deserted of traffic compared to traffic levels today, plenty of parking spaces along roads without yellow lines, and plenty of pedestrians wearing smart hats.
There’s a lovely moment at 1:10, where an old fashioned black car is closely (too closely) followed by an iconic Morris Minor Traveller in classic almond green.
1960s Drive Through Finsbury, London, HD from 35mm – Kinolibrary on YouTube