The South West Film and Television Archive (SWFTA) is the regional film archive for the South West of England. Established in 1993, SWFTA's core collection comprises of the combined programme libraries of Westward Television and TSW (Television South West). The archive also cares for a significant number of donated film collections, both amateur and professional, dating back to the early 1900s.
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Plymouth's First Air Mail Test Trip
Letters from America - Plymouth's First Air Mail Service Test Trip in action
From the collection of:
Plymouth’s first air mail test trip takes place on 27 April 1923. This film shows Mayor Stephens carry mailbags from ship to shore. A pilot from Instone Aircraft operating out of Chelson Meadow displays the mailbags before setting off for Croydon Airfield. More test flights take place in September 1923 piloted by Alan Cobham in an attempt to set up a service from Plymouth to Birmingham, Manchester and Belfast. It is not until 1934 that an air mail service is established.
The first recorded European airmail flight occurred in England in 1910 when Claude Graham-White carried the mail by air. The first official government-backed British airmail flight took off on 9 September 1911 as part of the celebrations to mark the coronation of King George V. British planes carried the first regular airmail in Europe. By 1923, Britain had launched an airline that had 18 planes and flew across Europe. In 1924, this government-owned airline became Imperial Airways. British airmail service continued to grow until 1935, Imperial flew mail and passengers regularly from London or Southampton to Cairo, Egypt then on to Basra, Iraq, and to India.