Cat no. 411

The Horsey Mail

Running time8:59 Black & White Sound 1938 Horsey, Norfolk

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A promotional film made by the GPO showing how, despite exceptional weather conditions, the mail still gets through.

Genre:

DocumentaryIndustrial / Sponsored Film

Aerial and coastal views of the Winterton area which show the position of Horsey and flooded farm land. The local postman, Claude Simmonds is seen on his bicycle. His usual two mile round has become a fifteen mile round owing to the flooded roads. At the depot in Great Yarmouth we are introduced to another postman, Bob O'Brian. He takes out a post office van to assist the local service. En route he meets Claude Simmonds and after putting his bike into the van the two proceed to Horsey. Here villagers are moving out their furniture. Carts loaded with furniture travel along the road in a scene reminiscent of a refugee crisis. Many villagers lived in Horsey Hall. The van travels as far as possible along the flooded roads until the postmen alight and join a local boatman to cross the marshes to Horsey and isolated farms. A submerged car and farm implements are seen along the way. Bob O'Brian explains that Claude is an ex-fisherman and quite at home in boats. The two men deliver letters in Horsey before setting off on another trip to deliver letters to Mr. Ford's farm. The farmer stops work to meet them and his wife, Millie, brings out some tea.The film finishes with men and machines trying to repair the sea wall. The breach was still 100 yards across and the next high tide was due in three days. This task provided temporary work for those made redundant by the floods. The windmill is pumping water off the land.

Background Information:

During 1938 Horsey was flooded several times. The breach in the sand hills was 1/2 mile wide and covered an area of 7,500 acres for a period of three months. These floods are recorded in Norwich Events. February 13th: A northerly gale, accompanied by abnormally high tides, resulted in the sea breaking through at Horsey and flooding an area of fifteen square miles. February 18th: The village of Horsey was partially evacuated owing to floods. March 1st: New defences at Horsey broken by high tides. April 3rd: New defences at Horsey again submerged by high tide. For the next three months ... we lived a strange existence on an Island at the mercy of the sea ... an inland island that turned into a desert was my general impression of the flood and its worst feature was the resulting lack of life ... salinity immediately after the flood was 32.29%. (Anthony Buxton, Fisherman Naturalist. Published by Collins, 1946.)
(N.B. The salinity of the North Sea is 31%.)

Featured People:

Claude Simmonds, postman; Bob O'Brian, postman; Mr. Ford, farmer; Millie Ford

Featured Buildings:

Horsey Mill

GPO Film Unit

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