Crafts and industries

There is a fascination about seeing how something familiar is made, or how a job is done, and short films fulfilling this popular curiosity became a staple of the cinema supporting programme, classroom film lessons, and then short television programmes. Here is a selection of films of small-scale crafts and industries – each creating the impression that you have seen the whole process, but in a fraction of the time.

Cat no. 50

Rope-Making By Hand

Running time3:30 Colour Silent 1946 Hadleigh, Suffolk

Boulton Hawker Films began making classroom films with this silent colour record of Ben Whiting on the rope walk at Brett Works. The film maker’s shadow across the scene adds to the home-made character of this simple film. The company have continued to be major producers of educational films.

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Cat no. 51

The Story of Coco Matting

Running time10:25 Colour Silent 1947 Hadleigh, Suffolk

Local production of this coarse, hard-wearing matting ceased soon after this film was made, and completed mats were subsequently imported from India.

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Cat no. 196

The Flintknappers

Running time4:32 Black & White Sound 1949 Brandon, Suffolk

Shell’s ‘Craftsmen’ series drew connections with local heritage and skills passed on over the centuries in short films for small film show audiences – an indirect means of advertising..The flintknappers’ voices were added by actors and are not a reliable record of the local accent!

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Cat no. 225

Iron Foundry

Running time17:10 Black & White Silent 1950 Epping, Essex

Established in 1858, the foundry of William Cottis and Sons made small parts for agricultural machinery. This and other Essex Education Film Library productions were made during a cinematography course at Wansfell College, then distributed through the library. The film makers’ clapperboard appears for a moment at the start of the film – they were on the course to make mistakes and learn.

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Cat no. 41

Local Newspaper

Running time11:07 Black & White Silent 1952 Epping, Essex

The reporter covers a story, types it up, then hands it over for typesetting and printing at the West Essex Gazette. Another Essex Education Film Library film made at Wansfell College.

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Cat no. 509

Flower Pots

Running time11:02 Black & White Sound 1954 Waltham Abbey, Essex

Preparing clay and making flower pots by hand and on the wheel, then firing and distribution at G. and A. Tuck Ltd. Another Essex Education Film Library film but this time made with sound by their film unit.

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Cat no. 424

Making Cricket Bats

Running time15:11 Black & White Sound 1957 Little Baddow, Essex

Starting with the willow tree, we see every step until the bat is polished and stamped ‘Perfection’. Another Essex Education Film Library film with sound by their film unit.

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Cat no. 700

The Wheelwright

Running time4:58 Black & White Sound 1970 March, Cambridgeshire

The dramatic process of fitting the iron rim to a wooden cartwheel demonstrated by Tom James of March in a short film for television

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Cat no. 7747

The Art of the Marbler

Running time13:17 Colour Sound 1970 Grantchester, Cambridgeshire

Beautiful patterns for book end-papers and bindings produced at Douglas Cockerell and Son were filmed for Bedfordshire County Council.

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