Cat no. 589

From The Orchard To the Home

Running time1:35:33 Black & White Silent 1930 Histon, Cambridgeshire

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Fruit farming, jam making and canning at Chivers Company.


Archive AliveDocumentaryIndustrial / Sponsored FilmPromotional

Part One. An exterior shot of the Chivers Factory and then the orchards in spring with the trees covered in blossom. The beehives in the orchards and the other animals that are kept in the orchard or around the farm. The incubator machine shows how eggs are incubated and there are shots of the chicks in pens and of the chickens in the coup and in the orchard where they are fed. A sow and piglets feature. One of the piglets is held up to the camera by a stockman. The pigs are seen in the orchard, followed by shots of Chivers' prize winning middle white boar and prize-winning large white sow. There is a shot of sheep and lambs and then of dairy shorthorn cattle and calves. Finally Percheron horses are filmed with their foals.

Part Two. A shot of 'Cense', Champion Senior Stallion Royal Agricultural Show of England Show, 1930. Percherons cultivate the raspberries, pulling ploughs between the canes. In the strawberry fields they plough between the rows of plants. There are long shots and close-up shots of an army of women picking strawberries and raspberries by hand. They wear protective headgear. The fruit is weighed and then taken by horse drawn cart to the Orchard Factory. At the factory the fruit is unloaded. This scene shows that Chivers were still using a mixture of lorries and horse-drawn carts for transport. Inside the factory it is sorted by women in overalls and mobcaps. Interior scenes from the Orchard factory. At the boiling pans, sugar is weighed in automatically. The fruit added and the jam stirred. There are sugar thermometers in the side of the pans. The jam is checked to see if it has reached setting point. Outside the factory, glass jars are unloaded, placed on a conveyor belt in wire baskets and put through the washer. Inside the factory, they are turned out and checked. The jars are being filled by machine. They are placed onto trays and a circle of greaseproof paper is placed over the top before the lids are put on. A long shot of the factory shows women on stools at the conveyor belt. The jars go into the steriliser and then the vacuum chamber. Jars are selected and weighed. This is recorded.

Part Three. Shots of the jars being taken into the coolers. There are interior shots of the coolers showing women putting the jars away. A long sequence shows the store room. Trolleys on rails are guided into the store room by groups of women. The jars are unloaded and stacked. There is a shot of the labelling and packing department showing people at work. A woman operates the labelling machine. The jars are inspected and wiped clean by hand. The metal lid is tied down for extra security. A woman at a bench worked the coding machine. The jars are wrapped by hand and the tops secured. Finally the jars are placed into boxes. The last sequence was shot at the Huntingdon factory and shows tin cans being manufactured. Sheets of tin plate are put through the lacquering machine and then cut into strips by machine.

Part Four. This part concludes the section showing the process of making cans. A black cat is painted onto a sheet to tin so that the viewer can follow its progress through the manufacturing process. The sheets of tin are made into a can shape and then the join is soldered. The work is inspected before the bottoms of the can are fixed. The tins are filled with fruit by girls at conveyor belts and the syrup is added automatically. The tins are sealed, cooked and finally labelled and packed. The labelling process is automatic and there are close up shots of the process. The second sequence shows the manufacture of Chivers' Table Jellies. The fruit is placed in muslin bags that are in turn placed between wicker dividers in the pressing machine. The fruit is pressed and the juice runs into a vat. It is added to the jelly by hand. The jelly is strained through a muslin cloth, cooled and allowed to set. It is taken to the cubing machine. There are shots of slabs of jelly. In the packing department, the jellies are wrapped and boxed by hand before being taken away on a Lister Auto Truck.

Part Five. The canning of vegetables in the plant at Huntingdon. The peas are picked by hand, mainly by women. There is a close-up shot of one of the women. Shots of the exterior of the factory and of the peas arriving. They are loaded onto a conveyor belt that takes them into the factory. The drum-like machine that shells the peas. The peas are washed in another drum. The peas pass through the grading machine and then through the blancher to a machine where they are washed again. We see the factory floor and then a shot of the filling machines. The cans are placed into large metal crate and then lowered into pressure ovens. They are removed and placed into the cooling tanks. When removed from the cooling tank, the cans are boxed. The sequence ends with stills tins showing the varieties of vegetables available.

Part Six. The laboratory and test facilities at the company and the recreational facilities for the workers. The opening shots are taken in the laboratory and show scientists and laboratory assistant, including many women, carrying out tests and experiments. In the Chivers' kitchen, a female worker is testing jelly products. One has failed to set properly. To support their assertion that their products are sent around the world, the film shows the labelled boxes, ready for their destinations. These include destinations in Europe, (Brussels, The Hague, Antwerp) North America (Montreal, New York) and South America. (Panama) The products are sent to destinations in the Middle East; (Jerusalem, Alexandria) The Indian sub-continent; (Colombo) Africa; (Mombasa) and the Fear East (Takoradi, Hong Kong.) Trains are loaded at a separate station adjacent to the railway line, and lorries leave the factory.

Workers' welfare facilities include a surgery and rest room, where a nurse attends to a patient. There is a non-profit making luncheon room, and educational classes are held at Impington Hall, which is shown. In the recreation ground the film shows games of tennis, cricket, bowls and putting as well as a children's playground. The barn where Chivers' began their business is shown and there are aerial views of the factory, farms and adjoining countryside. The caption highlights the number of employees and the company's Royal connections. A shot of the Royal Crest. A shot of a shop window filled with Chivers' goods.

Background Information:

Chivers employees spent a pleasant and instructive time at the Central Cinema when they watched the new film ‘From Orchard to Home’. It covered the processes in making jam from picking the fruit to labelling the jars and showed the facilities afforded the employees in their leisure hours.At the conclusion a good deal of merriment was caused by the showing of a similar film taken 25 years ago; it was interesting to compare the difference between the work then and now.
23 December 1930

Most of this film was made in 1930 but the sequence showing the harvesting process and canning of peas may have been made at another date. The film quality and titling are different. The Chivers family of Histon were originally fruit farmers in the middle of the nineteenth century. They sent some of their produce to jam producers and in 1873 they began making jam themselves in an old barn at Impington. They purchased more orchards, built a factory and by 1885 they were employing 150 people. In 1888 Chivers introduced table jellies. In the years that followed they introduced Marmalade, custard powder, lemonade, Christmas puddings and other products. In 1908, the company had an advertising film made by the London Bioscope Company. This film does not appear to have survived. The canned vegetable factory was built at Huntingdon. During World War II they supplied 40,000 tins of food to the allied armies.During the 1930s, 3500 people were employed by Chivers. In 1891, the company began an early profit sharing scheme. A pension scheme was introduced in 1895 and educational facilities were provided at Impington Hall. Two nitrate copies of this film were found in the essence store at the factory. One had decomposed completely. The other was intact. No other copies of the film are known and the negative does not appear to exist. A 16mm copy made in 1932 has survived but is not in good condition. The East Anglian Film Archive made a new 35mm negative and print as well as 16mm viewing prints available in the Archive.

Featured Organisations:

Messrs Chivers and Company, Histon

Featured Buildings:

Chivers Orchard Factory, Histon; Chivers Vegetable Processing Factory, Huntingdon; Impington Hall

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