Colourised footage shows Churchill at 1911 Sidney Street siege

Fascinating colourised footage has vividly brought to life one of the most infamous gun battles in British history, showing the future Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the 1911 Sidney Street siege.

The remarkable Newsreel film of the then Home Secretary standing alongside armed police as they surround a blazing Latvian gang's hideout in east London has been digitally remastered for a documentary.

Standing just 100 yards away from a raging gun battle between the heavily armed Latvian anarchists and scores of armed soldiers and police, the astonishing clip shows Churchill peering around a corner and bullets fly - even giving orders to officers.

The incredible black and white footage created a media sensation at the time and was the first time an event like this was ever caught on camera, capturing the true horror of the six hour siege which had the nation gripped.

Also dubbed the Battle of Stepney, it was the final act of a series of events that began three weeks earlier, when three police officers were shot dead by a gang of anarchists from Latvia who were robbing a jewellers.

The incident is being shown in Channel 5 documentary Edwardian Britain in Colour, which takes audiences back to the early 20th century, and comes after Peter Jackson’s extraordinary colourised First World War documentary They Shall Not Grow Old.   

The event caught on film came after the killing of the three police officers, dubbed the 'Houndsditch Murders' after the street in east London where the shooting took place, which sparked a wave of public revulsion and horror.

The police were under enormous pressure to catch their murderers, and the public blamed the ­Liberal government for allowing immigration to go unchecked and extremists to flourish unsupervised, and MPs needed swift retribution.

The East End was seen as a hotbed of political activism at the time, and those in power were determined to stamp out any signs of social unrest. 

After a tip off, they tracked down two of the gang members to the house in Sidney Street.   

The remarkable Newsreel film of the then Home Secretary (pictured in the brown coat) standing alongside armed police as they surround a blazing Latvian gang's hideout in east London has been digitally remastered for a documentary

The remarkable Newsreel film of the then Home Secretary (pictured in the brown coat) standing alongside armed police as they surround a blazing Latvian gang's hideout in east London has been digitally remastered for a documentary

Churchill watched from the sidelines as members of the police and Scots Guards exchanged fire with the two men holed up inside the building. In one clip he can be seen peering around a corner as the gun battle waged on

Churchill watched from the sidelines as members of the police and Scots Guards exchanged fire with the two men holed up inside the building. In one clip he can be seen peering around a corner as the gun battle waged on

Churchill arrived to observe the gun battle and authorised the deployment of troops: 74 members of the Scots Guards from the Tower of London, 35 members of the Royal Horse Artillery and 15 Royal Engineers to blow up the house, as well as several hundred police. 

He watched from the sidelines as members of the police and Scots Guards exchanged fire with the two men holed up inside the building.

The presence of the then 36-year-old future Prime Minister, who can be seen in the film talking to police - even giving them orders - was an early photo opportunity in what has been claimed as the first ever breaking news story.

That evening the film was shown in a West End theatre, and it was one of the earliest news events ever caught on camera. 

Churchill, (pictured left, in the top hat and brown coat) then an ambitious young politician, arrived to observe the gun battle and authorised the deployment of troops

Churchill, (pictured left, in the top hat and brown coat) then an ambitious young politician, arrived to observe the gun battle and authorised the deployment of troops

When a fire started inside the house - it is not known how it began - Churchill refused to allow the fire brigade to put the flames out. 

When firemen finally entered the building, two charred bodies were found and identified as Latvians Fritz Svaars and William Sokolow. One fireman was killed by falling debris. 

Former Labour MP Alan Johnson, Home Secretary from 2009 to 2010, tells the documentary:  'The seige of Sidney Street, something we can relate to today, because it is a terrorist incident. 

When a fire started inside the house - it is not known how it began - he refused to allow the fire brigade to put the flames out

When a fire started inside the house - it is not known how it began - he refused to allow the fire brigade to put the flames out

The presence of a 36-year-old Churchill, who can be seen in the film talking to police, even giving them orders, was an early photo opportunity in what was arguably the first ever breaking news story

The presence of a 36-year-old Churchill, who can be seen in the film talking to police, even giving them orders, was an early photo opportunity in what was arguably the first ever breaking news story

'Two of them got trapped in the house in Sidney Street, it was an amazing piece of intelligence to track them down. 

'The unusual thing was the army were called in. I think the first and only time that the police had called the army in to assist them because they had nothing to match the firepower of these two Latvians who were cornered in this house in Sidney Street.

'Churchill is there as Home Secretary, looking as if he is in charge. 

'Well of course he shouldn't be in charge. The whole point of our system was we set up the police that they would be citizens in uniform, not directed by politicians. Churchill had no role there.

'The very presence of a politician could have put the police in more danger. 

A fireman is brought out of the house as the first burned inside. One fire fighter was killed in the blaze

A fireman is brought out of the house as the first burned inside. One fire fighter was killed in the blaze

'They would have to protect

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