The White Cliffs Video Collection

This collection of archive footage focuses on the famous White Cliffs of Dover, which the National Trust are desperately trying to save right now. British Pathe filmed from the foot of and atop of the cliffs on many occasions - Channel swims, military invasions, the opening of ferry lines, the opening of the great Channel Tunnel itself, as well as more parochial items on the livelihood of Kent. You will find here some of our favourite clips, but do use the search bar and conduct your own archive voyage. If you find anything good related to the White Cliffs then make sure to tweet us @britishpathe

The newsreel above called "Flamborough Head" marks the proud 1939 occasion when the National Trust purchased a stretch of Yorkshire coastline to save it from being converted into a new estate of bungalows. Local people gather to celebrate the feat and the Bishop of York holds a clifftop church service.

"The beauty of a natural masterpiece belongs to all who can appreciate it" declares the narrator of this 1948 British Pathe reel that praises the National Trust for their acquisition of Watersmeet in Devon, saving it for the enjoyment of future generations. You can still visit Watersmeet today in Exmoor, Devon. The site where two beautiful streams collide across a series of rocks and grottos, the ancient woodland area has its own tea garden and shop too. Take a look at the Watersmeet website.

This video tour of the grounds of Stourheard House, a new-Georgian style stately home in Wiltshire, also sings the praises of the National Trust's post-war efforts. The 2,300 acre estate is described as "one of the most picturesque sites in the world, everything thought out, everything natural." During the mid 1950s British Pathe's interested in the National Trust increased heavily, perhaps during a time when Britons were looking for leisure pursuits that didn't require overseas travel. British Pathe emphasises to the audience that "this house belongs to you!" - There are many videos of National Trust attractions in the British Pathe film archive, so if you have a favourite do give it a search later on our site.

This lovely 1957 video shows visitors at Lacock Abbey, former home of the photography pioneer and inventor William Henry Fox Talbot. The building was presented to the National Trust in 1944.

This early 1940 video is an appeal to the government and people of Britain from the "Council for the Preservation of Rural England" - a predecessor of organisations like the National Trust - asking that Britain protects certain areas of its countryside in the way that other nations have National Parks.

This silent 1970 footage is taken from a helicopter ride around the White Cliffs area, taking in some of the surrounding farm land and then suddenly the dramatic chalky drop over the edges into the breaking waves of the English Channel. A great little video documenting the powerful imposing landscape that the National Trust is trying to save with our help.

This 1968 video called "Cliffs Repaired" shows the famous White Cliffs being made more safe for residents of Dover. The process entails covering the cliffs, which are reffered to as "the white doorstep of England", in a wire mesh temporarily while workmen set loose bits of chalk free and collect them below. The narrator ends the reel saying "even with erosion the White Cliffs should be here for a long time!"

This very old video from 1920 shows coast guards carrying out exercises on the cliffs in Dover, including being instructed how to set off flares across the Channel, and also laying out and descending rope ladders on the face of the famous White Cliffs.

In 1957 British Pathe issued this pressing newsreel called Channel Tunnel - Yes or No? on the subject of just that. Engineering expects who considered the tunnel to be quite feasible were ridiculed and mocked by critics who called them idiots and fantasists. Needless to say, the tunnel was eventually built and is a key trade and travel link between Great Britain and Europe.

This quirky British Pathe reel shows people using a car ferry from the White Cliffs of Dover to get to France for their holidays. Some lovely shots of arriving on the French side too - the sign posts look exactly as they do today!