Those interested in weightlifting and physical culture more generally are in a rather privileged position. Numerous websites, ourselves included, detail the various intricacies of the Iron Game’s History. Numerous websites offer old magazines and books free of charge and forums exist to help interested parties find every possible thing they can imagine.
Rarely though is British Pathé brought into the fold. Running from 1910 to 1970, Pathé newsreels span an incredibly diverse and interesting range of topics. Included in this, as you may have guessed, are clips of bodybuilders, weightlifters and physical culturists strutting their collective stuff. So without further adieu, I’d like to run through some of my favourite clips from Youtube.
1. The Gymnasium Display of the Boys of Castleknock College (1923)
For very selfish reasons, this is perhaps my favourite video. At present I’m researching physical culture in Ireland from 1893 to 1939 as part of my PhD research. Castleknock College was and is a secondary school for boys, which I was incredibly lucky to attend. So to see the college, nearly a century ago at this stage is a pretty cool thing.
Furthermore it gives us a cool insight into how gymnastics and callisthenics were being used to keep boys fit and also, it must be said, to show off for camera. My favourite thing about this video however is the choice of uniform. Who, in their right minds chose all white for the muddy fields of Castleknock? Incredible!
2. Inch by Inch (1939)
Why? Though we’ve previously publicised this video, it’s well worth a watch again. Thomas Inch represented one of the strongest and most popular weightlifters of the early 1900s. His workout courses were sold throughout the globe and his infamous fat grip Inch dumbbell is still the bane of many a strongman.
Here we see Inch, admittedly past his prime, demonstrating his incredible strength and power. To see this at his age, then 58, is nothing short of remarkable.
3. Child Weight Lifter Aka Child Weightlifter (1949)
Why? Again I just love the stereotypical English commentary on these sorts of videos. The young child is put through his paces with presses and cleans while the commentators spurs him on in a slightly jingoistic ‘bully’ fashion.
If Thomas Inch’s video demonstrates you’re never too old to lift weights, the above tells us you’re never too young!
4. World Champion Weight Lifter (1953)
Why? The man in the video, Doug Hepburn, was one of the strongest US lifters of the mid-century. As covered previously on this site, Hepburn was a Goliath when it came to the Bench Press. Footage of the great man doing his thing, is an objectively very awesome thing!
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger Wins Mr. Universe (1969)
Why? We couldn’t do a piece without including a very young Arnie. Taken at the outset of his meteoric rise within Bodybuilding, the following clip shows firstly how strong Arnie’s initial base was and secondly just how remarkable his physique transformation was. Compare this Arnie with that of a decade later and the result was a more muscular and defined body.
How about you? Are there any Pathé videos you enjoy? Let us know below in the comments. Otherwise I’d strong suggest searching Youtube or the Pathé website yourself. It is, as this post has hopefully demonstrated, a Gold mine.
P.S. This below video had no place in the running order but I still enjoy the fact that they took women in very fashionable clothing and put them through an awkward looking workout!