Cat no. 238

Low Loader

Colour Silent c.1938 Frinton, Essex

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Instructional film of how a damaged car is loaded onto a low loader.


AgricultureIndustrial / Sponsored Film

A black and white sequence shows a low loader with a damaged car on the back driving to the garage. A colour sequence, shot in a field, shows how the car was winched onto the low loader. The final sequence, filmed behind Ratcliffe Bros. garage in Frinton, demonstrates a heavy piece of machinery being unloaded. Some of these sequences are used in later demonstration films by Ratcliffe Bros. Engineering.

Background Information:

Ratcliffe's Garage in Connaught Avenue was opened in 1897 by J.T. and C.H. Ratcliffe. The two brothers were said to be brilliant engineers and in the 1930s they devised an unusual low loader which had a detachable back. Cranked by one man this slid to the ground so that any piece of equipment could be hauled on to it. The whole was then winched back onto the low loader. Various versions of this transporter were made but few sold. One can be seen in Colchester, Essex, 1934, Carnival. Five publicity films have been made by the brothers. During both world wars the garage was used as a munitions workshop. After the war they were joined by an accountant, Ted Hammond. Originally employed to sort out the various ministry contracts he became absorbed in the work of the garage and took over from the Ratcliffe brothers in 1948 and the garage became known as Hammonds Motors. They in turn sold out to the Co-operative Society in 1985.Low Loader. East Essex Gazette. May 9th, 1980.Cyril Ratcliffe one of the original brothers who had left the business before this film was made, was interviewed by David Brindle. Born in 1882, Cyril Ratcliffe was one of six brothers who worked in their father's iron foundry and machine shops in Great Holland. However, by the time he was 20, he and two other brothers were busy making cycles in Frinton, and good ones at that. 'They must have been good,' recalls Mr. Ratcliffe, 'because they sold for 12 guineas. Ordinary bikes were ?4.' At that time the three brothers could be seen on what Mr/ Ratcliffe calls a 'triplet' - a bicycle made for three - pacing the racing cyclists of the day. As petrol engines became more refined, the brothers began making motorbikes - known as Ratcliffe Reliables. They weren't fast, but as Mr/ Ratcliffe said, '20 to 30 mph was fast in those days.' ... As mass production was introduced, they turned to motor car repairs. In fact the three were the proud owners of one of the first cars in the area - a single cylinder, three-and-a-half horsepower Mercedes Benz. By 1910, Mr. Ratcliffe and a friend decide to go to Canada, where he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company in their workshops. He came back to England just before the first world war. After the war he built his own garage, showrooms and workshops in Ipswich Road, Colchester. The garage was on the site of the present Canada Motors.

Featured People:

J.T. and C.H. Ratcliffe

Featured Organisations:

Ratcliffe Bros. Engineering

Featured Buildings:

Ratcliffe Bros. Garage

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