Cat no. 90

Crown of the Year

Running time18:57 Black & White Sound 1943 Norfolk, Norfolk

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A Ministry of Information film about the importance of the harvest for the war effort.

Genre:

AgricultureDocumentaryPublic Information FilmWartime

The film shows the harvesting process and was filmed on Mr. C. Wharton's farm in East Norfolk. The film begins with shots of fields of wheat and oats. A tractor is seen ploughing the field and then a horse-drawn seed drill sows the filed. The grain harvest is described in the commentary as the crown of the farming year. The uses of the crops are explained including a reminder that in wartime barley was used for making bread also. The farmer, called George Hodge in the film, explains how his farm has developed and runs through a few statistics; the farm is about 1,000 acres and employs 20 men and 12 women. In the next sequence a tractor pulled self binder is shown cutting and tying the bundles of corn. The shocks are collected and stacked by women, some of whom are in land girl uniform. Mr. Hodge explains that the wheat continues ripening in the shocks. In this scenes All Saints' Church, Filby is visible in the background. Mr. John Hollis, an ex-East Coast fisherman, is shown out on the farm with a gun scaring the birds. The crop is loaded into a horse drawn cart. The farm horse is being ridden by a small boy. Next the farm workers are shown building a strawstack.

After a panorama of the surrounding countryside, a tractor-drawn combine is shown harvesting and a tractor drawn baler, driven by a land girl collects the straw. At one stage an industrial town is seen in the background. Other farm activities are shown. Mr. Hodge is shown pumping paraffin into a can and then taking it to the tractors in the field by car. He is then shown filling the tractor. Land girls are shown breaking shocks of oats to allow them to dry after the rain. A cow is shown trapped in a ditch. It is pulled out by ropes. All the men of the farm were in the home guard and their night patrol is shown. Next the film moves on to threshing. Mr. Hodge used a contractor for threshing and explains how the machine works. He can also be seen examining the grain. The film moves on to the harvest festival service in the church. This is inter shot with scenes, probably from another farm, showing harvesting of other crops, including potatoes. All machinery in this sequence is horse-drawn.

The film moves back to Mr. Hodge's farm, showing ploughing in the stubble and lifting and topping the sugar beet crop. Mr. Hodge is shown doing his accounts, planning for the next year, in which he explains crop rotation, and the importance of food supply for the country during the war. In a conversation with his local adviser, Mr. Cock, he agrees to plough up more of the marshland in an attempt to increase the cultivation of wheat. The film ends with general farming scenes, illustrating he cyclical nature of farming.

Background Information:

The panoramic shot offered is for artistic effect and is not Mr. Wharton's farm. There isn't a hill within 15 miles of Filby! Also the woman driving the tractor can be seen in other Ministry of Information films.

Eastern Daily Press, 27th June, 1992 wrote:

"One of the best-known and most enthusiastic farmers in Norfolk, Charles Wharton, died yesterday (26th June, 1992) at the age of 87. Born at Mautby, near Yarmouth, in 1905, he started farming at Charity Farm, Thrigby, in Broadland and became one of the country's most successful farmers. He started farming on his own account in 1929 on the eve of the worst recession in agriculture. A couple of years later, his cattle went down with foot and mouth disease and he was summoned to see the bank manager because he was £50 overdrawn. But he clung on through the recession and as his business prospered, and he bought additional land in the neighbourhood. Mr. Wharton, who had been ill for some time, was a very good bridge player and represented the county at both tennis and badminton. He was also a county councillor for six years. He built up a large farming business in Broadland around his Winsford Hall home. He leaves a widow, Rose, and son, Charles, and three daughters."

"This was a large and quite modern farm. The majority of the work was carried out by tractor at a time when many horses were still in use. One or two of the women working on the farm appear too well dressed to be a regular farm workers. The commentary stresses that everyone would lend a hand at harvest, including the vicar's wife." (T. Knighton, 1996.)

Mr. Wharton told the Archive that he spoke directly to the camera. In the film his voice has been removed and replaced by an actor's. This may have been for technical reasons, although local voices were often replaced by an actor who offered a toned down version. This is the case in films made by Mary Field in Suffolk where the local voice is actually that of the Deputy Director of Education for East Suffolk, A.O.D. Claxton.There are three versions of this film. One is shorter by 1 min 30 secs and excludes a scene showing Mr. Hodge and his men on Home Guard duty. There was a fifteen minute version of the film released that also excluded the threshing scene and the scene where the cow is pulled from the ditch.

Featured People:

Mr. C. Wharton; Mr. John Hollis; Mr. Cock.

Featured Buildings:

All Saints' Church, Filby; Stokesby Barns

Ministry of Information

Ralph Keene

Edgar Anstey (associate producer)

Raymond Elton; Reg Wyer

Ralph Keene

William Allwyn

Al Rhind; Philip Robinson

Reginald Gamble

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