Alas, having posted items on the British Pathe newsreel site telling people about the free downloads (with lots of silent material, including some fiction films), the service has changed. The agreement the company had with the Lottery Fund was that it would make its collection freely available online for three years, and then might charge. Well, it’s been a bit more than three years, and the charging has been brought in. It is no longer possible to download low resolution copies for free. Instead you are offered high resolution (512Kb/per sec) copies which can be downloaded for £25 (plus VAT). You can still search the database and view the preview stills for free, but the free downloads have gone.
But do not despair! Because the British Pathe films are also available from ITN Source, ITN currently having the rights to manage British Pathe footage sales. And there, if you go to the Advanced Search option, and select British Pathe from the Collection drop-down menu, you get access to the entire library with free video streams (but not downloads). How long this situation will continue, I’ve no idea, but for now it’s all there to view from ITN – but not to keep.