Cat no. 382

The Great Gale

Running time21:46 Black & White Sound 1953 Essex

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The effects of flooding upon urban areas and farmlands



This film opens with shots of flooded farm land and raging sea. Damaged houses are shown and stranded livestock. The commentary relates many of the statistics relating to the flood. The pictures show shattered houses. A rescue worker is up to his waist in water; a boat is along a suburban street. An Essex County Council Ambulance is shown and then a temporary shelter for those made homeless. Dead livestock are scattered across the farmland and men in a boat rescue stranded sheep. A flooded orchard is shown. This is pumped dry by a pump attached to a Ferguson tractor. This was the prototype for a tractor pump manufactured by Ferguson for use in third world irrigation. There are shots of flooding at Canvey Island and Wallasea Island.

At Grays, debris from a paper factory is strewn across neighbouring fields. A timber yard has suffered the same fate. A naval pump is used to pump out the water here. There are many shots panning farm yards and farm land inundated with water. Half submerged tractors and farm equipment have been joined in one case by a boat. In Essex a farmer is helped to evacuate his flooded land; a tractor and car are towed away through the floods by lorry.In Lincolnshire, the film shows how Ferguson helped to rebuild the sea defences. Between Mablethorpe and Grimsby, tractors deliver brick to rebuild the wall. There are further repairs made at Holbeach.

The film looks at the problem of salted farmland. The Ministry of Agriculture advised that nothing be planted, but some farmers experimented and grew rye grass for winter cattle feed. The patchy results of this are shown. At Wallasea Island gypsum is spread on the land. The calcium sulphate draws the salt out of the land and then both are washed away into the drains. Ferguson tractors and bulk handling equipment are demonstrated for the handling of gypsum.The last part of the film looks at the effects of the gales in Scotland. There are shots of flattened trees, twice Scotland's annual rate for timber felling. Fallen logs are moved by Ferguson tractors fitted with special flexible tracts and girdles, technology borrowed from Scandinavia and Canada.

Background Information:

The man up to his waist in water is Corporal Leming of the USAAF. This scene is reconstructed for the film. Corporal Leming worked in the rescue effort at South Hunstanton.

Featured Organisations:

Ferguson Co. Ltd.Standard Motors; Dunlop Rubber Co.South Holland Land Drainage Board; Essex County Council Ambulance Service

Featured Buildings:

Forth Bridge

The Ferguson Film Unit

The Ferguson Film Unit

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