London’s Screen Archives enables Londoners see their past come alive on film. Managed by Film London, we are a unique network of historic film collections that cares for, collects and screens heritage film across the city. Together we preserve London’s rich film heritage from feature films to home movies, public information films, newsreels, and records of the capital’s many different industries.
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King Amanullah at Croydon
An extended look around Croydon Airport thanks to King Amanullah of Afghanistan, who gets a guided tour behind the scenes.
From the collection of:
King Amanullah, Afghanistan’s reforming pro-Western ruler, gets a good look around Croydon Airport in this film, which shows the monarch inspecting buildings and airplanes, including one with folding wings that’s stored in a portable hanger. He also received some mail, written in Persian, dropped by parachute, and noses around a control tower. The king looks interested throughout, and is accompanied by a number of local dignitaries.
Amanullah came to power in 1919 after securing independence from the British Empire. He pushed through a number of reforms (and formed a small air force), the unpopularity of which was felt during this tour of the west. As he visited various European leaders, his opponents marched on Kabul and the army deserted. Amanullah abdicated soon after and lived in exile in Switzerland until his death. During this trip, he flew over London in a plane, something he described as his “greatest thrill in the west”. The Times reported this as the first flight over London by any king.