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Archive Newsreel: Mr Baldwin Retires - May 1937

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This newsreel records the historic moment when Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister on and off for 8 years between 1923 and 1937, leaves 10 Downing Street after handing over to Neville Chamberlain. 

Baldwin had fixed his retirement as May 1937 back in 1936, when he was already feeling exhausted. He stayed to handle the controversy of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, which culminated in the Abdication in December. One of his final acts, little recognised, was to introduce a salary for the Leader of the Opposition.

We also take a closer look the Aldershot Tattoo Rehearsal (a treat for lovers of brass, drums and the occasional kilt), the 1937 Windsor to London Marathon, Thomas Sophwith's challenge for yachting honours and motorbikes at the Brooklands Motor Bike Circuit -  reflecting the huge appeal of speed and physical challenges during the 1930s.

We also glimpse two dramatic accidents; a collier ship caught on the rocks off New South Wales, Australia and a huge high-altitude balloon is destroyed in flames whilst exploring the stratosphere. 

This latter event came only a couple of weeks after the great loss of life in the horrific Hindenburg airship disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey, which was also recorded by the newsreels. Professor Auguste Piccard, referred to in the commentary, was one of many scientists in three generations of a family who included chemists, physicists, balloonists and hydronauts. He and his son Jacques later adapted their modules for ascending above the earth into vessels for exploring the deep oceans. Auguste was also the inspiration for Professor Cuthbert Calculus in Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin, and the family name was borrowed (minus one letter C) for Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard. 

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