Motor racing, skating, dancing and tasting ale
In the run-up to Christmas 1949, newsreels buzzed with speed, elegance and a beery cheer, with a racing car, ballroom dancers, athletes on ice and a quaint old custom in the City of London.
BRM unveils the new hope for British motor racing
The new national racing car, designed and built by a collaboration of 160 firms, shows off its power. At the wheel is Raymond Mays, a leading UK racing driver since the 1920s and the founder of British Racing Motors. It had a 16-cylinder 1.5 litre engine and aimed to reach speeds of more than 200 mph.
Vintage Strictly Ballroom
Dancers from Europe compete in the Empress Hall (part of the Earls Court complex in London, but now demolished). They demonstrate the precision of formation dancing, the “Ballet of the Ballroom”, and show individual flair in the traditional waltz. Couple number 9, Wally Fryer and Violet Barnes take the professional title.
Tasting the Ale
Someone has to check the beer, and in London the Lord Mayor turns up with his official Ale Conners, chosen since medieval times by the City liverymen to test the ale. They are at the Tiger Tavern on Tower Hill, which stood on the site from 1504 to 1965. The doffing of a tricorne hat is the signal of approval to let the crowd into the pub to sample a range beers including Mulled Ale and Fettled Porter.
The Empress Hall dance-floor, now frozen over as an ice-rink, also hosts the British Ice-Skating Championships. The clip features brother and sister John and Jennifer Nicks who won the pairs title (and went on to be World Champions in 1953), the thrills of speed racing and the stylish men’s and women’s figure skating.