Cat no. 934

Linen Flax

Running time16:37 Black & White Silent 1946 Sandringham, Norfolk

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A detailed look at the processes involved in the growing and preparing of flax, an important crop during Word War II.

Genre:

Documentary

Shots of flax and corn fields and north west Norfolk views. Major G.O Searle, Flax Production Officer to the Ministry of Supply, drives to the fields and inspects the flax crop. The crop is harvested with a 'pulling machine' (a tractor driven by a man pulling a reaper operated by a boy). The machine is shown operating in slow motion. At the factory, a linen loom: flax passes up an elevator to form a stack and women arrange the flax on a conveyor before deseeding by a roller. Retting is shown - soaking flax in a tank at a controlled temperature, followed by gaiting - slow motion shots of the flax being fanned out to dry in the fields and scutching - separating the flax on a conveyor before it passes through a roller. Finally the stricks (flat layers) of fibre are removed from the machine, carefully dressed and combed to remove knots, and packed into sacks. The film ends with a statement about increased production and an appeal to the Empire.

Background Information:

The uses for canvas for ships' sails, and for parachute harnesses and hosepipes, increased the demand for flax during World War II. Flax had been grown on the Sandringham Estate since the early 1930s - later a factory at nearby West Newton was built by Norfolk Flax Ltd.

Featured People:

Major G.O. Searle, Flax Production Officer to the Ministry of Supply

Featured Organisations:

Ministry of Supply

Featured Buildings:

Norfolk Flax Limited

W.M. Hamilton