Cat no. 1892

Draining The Fens

Running time9:19 Black & White Sound 1947 The Fens

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A history of draining the Fens including footage of the 1947 floods.

Genre:

AgricultureDocumentary

This film begins with a map of Great Britain. It closes in on the Fenland area and shows the four main rivers of the Fens; the Witham, the Welland, the Nene, (spelt Nen on the film) and the Great Ouse. The commentary explains what sort of area the Fenlands are and something of its history. There is a shot of the Fenland showing a cottage.

On the Wash, Aargie Smart goes punting. He shoots his prey with a punt gun and then picks them up. The next sequence looks at the drainage problem in the Fenland. It shows men ditching and then there is a diagram of the drainage system. There is a shot of a sluice gate and the film recounts a little of the history of the draining of the Fens, mentioning Vermuyden's work in the 17th-century. There is a shot of the Denver Sluice and of the built up banks just down river at Ten Mile Bank. A tug pulls flat bottomed cargo vessels along the river. Shots taken from a moving waterbound vessel include cows grazing on the banks and steam pumps. There is a shot of a windmill and of fields and a farm. Horse graze on the Wash. Aerial scenes show the floods of 1947, possibly near Welney. The commentary explains efforts to control the water level. A very dark sequence shows men on flood watch before shots of the 1947 floods show the flood waters breaking through at Hilgay Fen. A cow has to be pulled from the flood water by rope. The film shows shots of farms after the flooding and the commentary explains some of the consequences of the flooding for farmers. A man and a horse and cart are seen wading through the mud. A tug, towing several cargoes carries, carries clay to the banks for repair. The clay is carried by miniature railway to the area where it is needed. Men dig the clay into the bank. Farm workers arrive on their bikes. A farmer, Arthur Rickwood, arrives by car to survey the scenes. Women workers arrive on bicycles. This section of the film shows farming scenes. They show teams of men ploughing using crawler tractors. The potato harvest is shown as are harvests of vegetables, fruit and the main grain harvest. Many women workers are employed in these scenes. They also show the use of machinery on a Fenland farm, including a reaper and binder and a baler. The final scenes are of an industrial City and then scenes of London, showing the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben.

Background Information:

The film contains some shots also appearing in `Fenlands' 1945, and features the same farmer, Arthur Rickwood. There are additional shots showing the 1947 floods.

Featured People:

Arthur Rickwood, farmer

Featured Buildings:

Palace of Westminster; Big Ben

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