The World We Have Lost

Take a look at this amazing color film footage of London in the 1920s. It has no particular relevance to the mission of this blog, except to remind us that there used to be a cultural entity called England, and that something known as Western Civilization was once considered worth defending. It wasn’t so very long ago, either — some of the small children in this video may well be alive today:

The notes included with the video are below the jump:
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London is the last stop in an epic trip across Britain filmed in remarkable early colour.

London was the final stop in a marathon journey around Britain filmed as a series of cinema travelogues. Pioneering filmmaker Claude Friese-Greene brought these picture-postcard scenes to life with a specially-devised colour film process.

Hat tip: Paul Belien.

23 thoughts on “The World We Have Lost

  1. A lovely video, but perhaps a little distant from the recent past. A real video that screws with your mind, if you can get a hold of it, is Sir John Betjeman’s Metro-Land, which was made in the UK in 1973. It is honestly akin to watching a video from the 3rd dynasty of the Pharoahs. Such is the difference between then and the UK of today.

    However, what every European anti-Jihadi must, and I mean absolutely must watch is Sir Kenneth Clarke’s CIVILIZATION.

    It is impossible to encapsulate in words or sentences, so you cannot use it against those who haven’t seen it. But it is the best personal weapon of motivation, to fill you with determination and confidence over what it is exactly: this heritage this European history that we are fighting for and trying to preserve.

    It is one of those things that makes you say, “No. I will not take the easy way out and just emigrate from this dump to a better and easier life in the US or Australia. I must stay. I must fight…”

    Baron you sould definitely get a copy.

    The first six minutes of the first episode of this truly earth shattering piece of Television are available on YouTube:

  2. This is really nice. Sometimes it’s good to park, in the back of ones’ mind, the images of a civilized and well functioning society.

    For that reason, this film is very much on topic.

  3. Tharyscamus-

    I agree wholeheartedly. I have been singing the praises of Kenneth Clarke’s “Civilization” for years. Special attention should be paid to the first installment entitled “The skin of our teeth”. I will never
    forget one of the opening lines from the series. Mister Clarke says “I dont know what civilization is? But I know it when I see it.”. Then the camera then pans to a shot of Notre Dame cathedral.

  4. I had the ocassion oa few times to visit London, but I just dont feel attracted to it. This is the London I would have liked to visit, because if I go to London I want to see London not the Middle East, and not even Eastern Eruope

  5. @Spackle
    This is the very segment in the YouTube video that I linked to above!
    Namely, the first few minutes of the first episode, “The skin of our teeth.”

    In fact the very first words that Clarke’s spoke in 1969, are more resonant today than ever!

    “Looking at those great works of Western man, and remembering all that he’s achieved in Philosophy, Poetry, Science, Law-making: it does seem hard to believe that European Civilization can ever vanish. And yet, you know, it has happened once…”

  6. Dear Baron,

    Thank you for posting this, even if it is heartbreaking!

    The descriptions and photos in James Bartholomew’s The Welfare State We’re In are even more emphatic: old soccer grounds without fences, let alone the cages to keep fascistic thugs from tearing at each other; idyllic 1952 Coronation celebrations in the poorest areas of London’s east end.

    But for my money, Amsterdam has got to win the prize for European urban jewel most comprehensibly destroyed by the combination of personal decay and destructive immigration.

    Best wishes,


  7. Thrasymachus,
    here is the first part. the youtube user has all the otehrs posted (from what i ca see). Looks very interesting. It’s nice here at GoV, I always hear about treasures like this 🙂

  8. I enjoyed this little travelogue when I first saw it on youtube yesterday – it’s amazing to remember that events occurred in 1927 in color too – we’re all so used to seeing black-and-white films of that time period.

    But I have to disagree with the take that this video represents a lost, glorious past. Britain in 1927 was a declining nation, with high unemployment. It was just one year past the nationwide crisis of the 1926 General Strike, instigated by militant unions made up entirely of white Englishmen. Read George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London,” and you get a picture of economic decline and societal decay – even before the onset of the Great Depression.

    Looking at this beautiful video and deciding that it represented Britain in 1927 would be like Catherine the Great viewing the Potemkin villages built along her late 18th century travel route through Russia.

  9. Britain had begun a decline in 1925, that’s for certain, but it was a long and slow decline. You can’t compare something declining from a great “glory” and still bearing most of that earlier period to something erected for the purpose of deception. Great Britain in 1927 was like someone at the very beginning of an illness, so in that sense this does represent a lost age. An age where malaise was starting to set in, but which was still something far better than what we have now.

  10. Quite right Archonix. In 1925 my grandfather went out every day on a bike looking for work and my Mother visited her Aunt Sarah to be served tea in jam jars.
    Grandad did find work and then served, for a 2nd time, in a World War. times were austere after the war but improved for a while. Problem is the British People seem now to have lost all spirit and fallen into stupor.Things will NEVER be the same again and I’d bet that today we wouldn’t challenge Hitler – we certainly aren’t challenging an even greater threat. Ostriches spring to mind as well as Trojan Horses!!!

  11. “But I have to disagree with the take that this video represents a lost, glorious past. Britain in 1927 was a declining nation, with high unemployment.”

    This all may be true. But it was BRITAIN in every sense of the word. If you were to ask those still living today if they would rather be poor and live in 1920s Britain or middle class and live in todays Britain I think they would almost all answer the former.

  12. bewick: It is a sign of a skewed viewpoint to believe that the threats to Britain today are in any way equal or greater than the threat posed by Adolf Hitler and Germany in 1939 (or Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union a few years later, for that matter).

    Spackle: Can you cite any polling data to justify your statement? I don’t believe it.

  13. An amazing film indeed! I more than anything enjoyed this silent movie being played with the correct speed for once.

    If you enjoyed this movie you might also enjoy the autochromes of french banker Albert Kahn. I didn’t even know about this man before I saw a documentary series on tv in 2008 produced by The Beeb. If you get the opportunity to see it then I highly recommend it. He sent out photographers to document the world, Oceania was the only place they for some reason never went to, from the period slightly before WWI to the late 20’s early 30’s. It’s strange to see this lost world in colour, I mean real colour, not hand tinted as was common back then.

  14. No Longer Gordon,

    It is a sign of a skewed viewpoint to believe that the threats to Britain today are in any way equal or greater than the threat posed by Adolf Hitler and Germany in 1939 (or Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union a few years later, for that matter).

    The actual threats are not in and of themselves equal or greater to the threats posed in the past by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But the point to remember is the dire state of Britain itself: its ability to cope with threats has been severely diminished.

    I don’t think Britain could win the Falklands War if it broke out tomorrow and not just because the Royal Navy has been gutted and no longer has enough ships. (Iran captured their British sailor hostages in 2006 on the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, the significance of which was not much commented upon at the time.)

    Partly this is due to the confusion wrought by neoconservative abstractions: fighting two land wars in Asia is not going to stop terrorist attacks from happening if (future) jihadists can simply apply for visas and come to live in London and Ohio anytime they like.

    Whether or not the 150+ clans in Baghdad are able to patch together a makeshift government has as much relevance to the future safety of Britain and America from terrorist attacks as the fate of the Kardashian clan.

    The various imams and jihadists in Britain might seem like a joke but we know from watching Undercover Mosque that they have a plan and they are biding their time they become more numerous and powerful. They already have the run of Europe.

    When your immune system has been destroyed a mild chill can set in your chest and end your life. So I think when you take everything into account you have the potential for serious bloodshed, war and national dissolution – even though in one sense it could be easily avoided.

  15. What a great video, Gates of Vienna. I hope it has all the seven stars it diserves on You Tube.

    Regarding London, it was beautifull. And in my opinion it is even more beautifull now. The only problem of London is the multiculturalism and all that comes with it.

    Besides it, I found today’s London to be… I don’t know… I prefer today’s London. If only we could throw multiculturalism over the window…

    I think that those images belong to a past, and we do not have to be afraid of the future, we just have to fight to make it better. Every thing has it’s time. I wouldn’t change today’s London for that London.

    I only pitty multiculturalism.

  16. Oh come on Gordon! Now you’re being a pain in the ass!

    Every sane person would reckon that these threats over Britain are way, way more severe than that posed by Hitler (I don’t know if greater than a nuclear, expansionist, + 200 million strong, Communist Super Power that was also the biggest country in the world).

    How come Nazi Germany was that much of a threat to Britain? Come on!

    You see, the problem is that Britain is ceasing to be Britain. London today is almost non European majority. And although I love that city, I’d love to see more of an English character in the people of Londen than I saw. That’s the threat: They are destroying the country just like those flyes that inject a being with their eggs, then the muggets will eat the being from inside out.
    Hitler couldn’t even manage to set foot in Portsmouth.

    Come on Gordon, don’t be dishonest. And to the other guy, of course Britain would win a War against Argentina. Or Brazil, or Mexico, or Canada for that matter. Although as I have stated too many times, the army that scares me more than the Iranian and the North Korean is the French one. We should put an end to the French army’s power.

    And recently I’ve realised that the American military is also ridiculously large. Hegemonic and imperialist really.


    Going to share this just for fun: My pro European Union teacher of “Classical Tradition and European Culture” uttered this phrase:

    “The greatest enemy of European Civilisation is the Nationalist discourse and the Nation-States”.

    I disagree, I agree more with Fjordman over this. But I also like the lady, she has good intentions. It just show how marginal we are and how most people have no grasp on what’s going on.

    What can we do?
    Ever more I remember Conservative Swede’s words: We (Europeans everywhere) will have to live like Jews.
    Are we ready? Will we be capable?

  17. Speaking of visiting London, are there any online resources laying out what parts of London, and other UK cities, infidels should avoid?

  18. Afonso,

    And to the other guy, of course Britain would win a War against Argentina.

    The other guy? I have a name. Please use it if you’re going to address me. Either ‘Mr. O’Brian’ or ‘Sean’ is fine.

    The fact is that the Tories’ cuts to the Royal Navy in the early 1980’s are what triggered the Falklands War in the first place. The islands had become visibly less defended. Another couple of months and they (Britain) wouldn’t even have the ships to send to take back the islands. Gen. Galtieri jumped the gun, unfortunately for him.

    Every victory looks inevitable after the fact but it was not so at the time. Watch this documentary, in five parts, and note the reason cited for Thatcher’s order to sink the Belgrano:

    Falklands War – How Close To Defeat? (1/5)
    Falklands War – How Close to Defeat? (2/5)
    Falklands War – How Close to Defeat? (3/5)
    Falklands War – How Close to Defeat? (4/5)
    Falklands War – How Close to Defeat? (5/5)

    In any case, my point was that a diminished, dermoralised country fighting wars with abstract, nonsensical aims (as Britain is in Iraq and Afghanistan) will suffer generally and is not going to be effective in the immediate-to-near future. That plus the gutting/underfunding of the Royal Navy throws a hypothetical British victory at sea into serious doubt.

  19. Acually, Sean, the biggest cuts to the navy were made in 66 under Labour. The tories (rather confusingly) added more cuts in the face of a growing soviet threat but they don’t bear sole responsibility. In fact I’d suggest that civil service bears the real responsibility for all those cuts. When successive governments take the same ridiculous path it has to be Sir Humphrey leading the way.

  20. Thanks, Graham. I only knew for certain that the Tories were responsible for the specific cuts that would have made assembling the Falklands task force impossible if they had goen through and if Gen. Galtieri had initiated the aggression later than he actually did.

  21. The Poster Formerly Known as Gordon said…

    bewick: It is a sign of a skewed viewpoint to believe that the threats to Britain today are in any way equal or greater than the threat posed by Adolf Hitler and Germany in 1939 (or Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union a few years later, for that matter).

    But then, Hitler and his brown shirts were not running virtualy every corner shop in Britain, Stalin and HIS henchmen were not building palaces to Communism all over the country, and Parliament were not bending over forewards to pamper and satisfy a mere 4% (IF you believe “Government” figures)of the population in their every wish and desire.

    The threat is equal, if different.

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