Film: 8376

Industry + Work | 1960 | Sound | Colour


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This film focuses on the area of the Black Country in the industrial heart of England 1960's at a time when mining and heavy industry were still booming.

Emphasis on road transport, at a time when motorways were being built and newfound affluence enabled most families to have cars - also shipping, mining and manufacturing industries, factory workers and miners, leisure activities and shopping.

The film starts at the docks on the Thames in London with a moored cargo ship and a crane. A tug boat pulls a cargo boat out from the London Docks. We look over the side of ship at the river rushing past. A sailor in uniform steers the ship from the bridge. Views of London docklands, with a ship passing in opposite direction, we can see smoking factories on the shore. We pass Ford's Dagenham factory, with a clear view of the Ford sign. The Thames estuary widens as it reaches the North Sea, passing an oil refinery on the way. A British Naval or shipping flag flies off the back of the ship. The captain views the white cliffs of Dover through binoculars. Another tugboat pulls a fully loaded cargo boat onto the Thames. Cranes then unload the cargo - which looks like pig carcasses - onto the dockside where it is piled onto trolleys by dockers. Close up of grain pouring into a Thames barge. The crane operator sits in his old-fashioned wooden housing operating the crane, loading up the now empty hold with her next load which looks like unprocessed timber destined for Nairobi, via Mombasa. Close up of crates being loaded by crane into the hold, followed by tyres, all guided into position by workers in the hold. Scene of ships and cranes on the dock.
Model of the world, with animated arrows showing the shipping routes by which Britain exports manufactured goods to the rest of the world. As the camera zooms in to show England's heartland the narrator proclaims 'Truly, England stands in front of Europe' - being in the best position for shipping. A close up of England shows the irregular coastline which provides good natural harbours. Arrow show the five main estuaries, and an arrow on the map demonstrates how nowhere in the United Kingdom is more than 80 miles from the sea. A triangle at the centre of map shows the Midlands. Shows position of Birmingham in the centre of triangle, then fills in using shading a simple relief of the area shown on the map. Shaded areas are drawn in showing the coalfields and iron ore fields of Central England as we zoom in to a smaller area. A circle is drawn on map which shows the location of The Black Country - shaded areas show mines.
Back to film footage with a view of pre-industrialised countryside - rolling meadows, then a coal mine built in the middle of fields, showing winding gear and two men walking along a footpath in the foreground. Showing development of Britain's largest industrial area. Man in foreground walks towards coal mine, on a grassy path. Narrator explains that the term 'Black Country' comes from the black iron ore, not the smoke from the chimneys as two men stroll past mine buildings. An artistic shot shows the reflection of a smoking chimney in water, with wild flowers around the edge, then pans up to the actual factory with the chimney belching smoke into a windless sky.
A miner, smartly dressed in a suit, leaves his house and walks down an alleyway between houses - which look like 50's built semi-detached with small front gardens. He gets into his car (60's Cortina?), and sets off, whilst the narrator describes the relative affluence of the mine workers. Shot of mine winding gear. The man in car arrives at the mine, two men on bicycles pass by, and another man in a car follows the first, an older car is parked on the road. At the entrance of the mine, a man stands holding his bicycle as a group of miners dressed for work in their protective white hats, donkey jackets and boots walk past into work. There follows a scene of workers arriving at a steel works, which can be seen in the background. An Austin A40 car zooms by, followed by a small van, a bicycle and a motorbike (with helmetless pillion!) and a few men on foot - a small convoy of lorries is parked by the roadside. People wait at a bus stop, this time there are women workers, as this is a lighter industry - a rubber factory. A Ford Cortina drives past the bus stop. Next change of shift at an aluminium works, man with greased back hair walks past eating an apple, as a Morris Minor van pulls up at a road junction, and a car, a van and a scooter turn into the road. A group of workers arrive on foot, plus one coming in on a racer bicycle. Workers including women arrive by bus to a factory making aircraft parts on a misty day. Workers in cars and bicycles arrive through the entrance of this factory. Another factory, its chimneys visible, where fairly smartly dressed, (but hatless) men leave on foot, one on a bicycle, and cross the road, with cars passing by. Clothing of workers looks like 1960's - narrow leg trousers, single lapel jackets, women with backcombed hair and bobs.
A lorry laden with pallets and empty crates leaves the British Road Services depot, pan across depot showing red lorries parked in rows and warehouse buildings. Another two lorries leave - their model insignia - 'Guy' clearly visible. A lorry driver and foreman (wearing a suit) walk up to a lorry, lorry departs depot, small yellow crane-truck seen in background. Lorry pulls out of depot onto a main road. View from the cab of the lorry of wide main road in a suburban area showing a few cars and a bus approaching. Lorry approaches, lots of pylons and power lines in the background, a Morris Minor car drives by, tall streetlamps line the single-lane road. Morning sunshine reflects on the wet surface of a tree-lined suburban road. A Triumph Herald car reverses out of the driveway of a detached bungalow - on the outskirts of town as fields are visible in the distance. In contrast, in a street of terraced houses a man comes out of a front door that opens directly onto the street. A passenger train passes through Birmingham Railway station. A more prosperous, modern-style, (50's architecture?) home - where a factory manager leaves the house and gets into his chauffeur driven car - a Humber Super Snipe - to go to work. The Bull-Ring centre in Birmingham with vehicles passing in front on a busy highway. Two schoolchildren in uniform wait on a central reservation for a slow moving queue of traffic stuck behind a milk-float to pass. The lorry approaches a bridge, and passes by light industrial estates, then slowly up a hill with a goods engine passing by in the background. Again view showing rear of lorry going up the hill, with a water-cooled power station in background. Lorry and bicycle pass down a street in the industrial area of an inner city. Lorry passes printing works. Different lorry loaded with gas bottles leaves gas depot. Manager arrives at aluminium factory, chauffeur opens car door for him. Transmission parts for motor vehicles are loaded by fork-lift truck onto the back of a lorry. (Morris Motors Limited) Inside a foundry, molten metal is made into machine parts by workers wearing no protective gear, just flat caps! Women working in plastic factory - making washing-up bowls and buckets, piecing together vinyl tiles and collecting rubber gloves as they pass on a conveyer belt. Men working in a textile mill, and a textile factory floor with female machinists (sweatshop). Lorry delivers to motor car castings plant and leaves, passing over a canal bridge viewed from a lock. Lorry stops and the driver asks a passer by for directions to the Dunlop factory. Lorry passes through industrial area, close-up of the driver driving. On the loading bay at Dunlop, large tyres are rolled onto the back of the lorry by hand.
An old-fashioned roadside warning sign says 'road liable to subsidence' as vehicles rumble past. A tree can be seen half-submerged in a lake as a result of mining subsidence. Road builders can be seen at the side of a busy road with a small crane, and digging by hand with shovels, making motorways. Lorry can be seen driving along a three lane motorway, going under a concrete bridge and another carrying a huge boiler just squeezes under. A close-up of a motorway sign showing the junction at Stonebridge. Shot taken from bridge of lorry passing under bridge, followed by view of motorway and another concrete road bridge. Lorry enters another factory as a cyclist passes by on the pavement. Steam engine passes under a bridge completely obscuring the view with its clouds of steam which clear to reveal old railway signals. Surface quarrying of iron ore, opencast mining, ore being carried away by goods train. Scrap metal is picked up by dumper truck and loaded onto a lorry. Freight train carrying coal for domestic and industrial use enters train goods yard, then departs. View of train goods yard from signal box.
Emphasis by narrator on road transport taking over from railways due to roads' better accessibility. Empty barge being navigated along a canal, followed by scenes of canals fallen into disuse due to increase in road use. Open cast coal mining shown in North of Black Country - cranes dump coal into lorries. (R.A. Davies lorries) Large modern mining complex with winding gear and men on foot going to work - trains carrying coal leaving complex and arriving at electricity generating power station, (view of coal fired power station including steaming water cooling towers and chimneys - close up and distance, with fields in foreground) An electric train passes in front of power station. View of two electricity pylons and scenes inside factory where a woman operates electricity-powered machinery. Close up of electric powered looms, forges, furnaces, pits and even a kettle!
Scenes of football being played in front of a large crowd in a stadium, a goal is scored and the camera pans across crowd with children whirling football rattles.
A Mini Cooper pulls up outside a bar in an affluent area (gabled timber pub) and two men climb out with two women who sport beehive and bleached blonde hairdos, all dressed up ready for a night on the town. The narrator bemoans the fact that these types favour drinking spirits over the more traditional beer. Followed by shot of men entering a working men's club, where beer is more likely to be drunk. Night-time scenes of central Birmingham shot from a car - the Bullring shopping precinct, Woolworths store, theatre, Mecca Casino with 'bingo twice a day', Marks and Spencers, Hiltons, Wimpy Bar, Co-op, a cinema advertising a film starring Marlon Brando, all with neon signs, showing the affluence of the area.
Daytime views of Coventry Cathedral, a close-up of the Bull-Ring Centre sign with detail of bull image, a round office building stands behind. Scenes of outdoor covered market stalls with shoppers at various stalls - buying fruit and pillows. A merry-go-round turns in the background. A busy city centre street in the shopping district shows a Morris Traveller car, (the driver uses a hand signal to pass a stationary bus picking up passengers at a bus stop) and a Volkswagen Beetle. The lorry-driver of previous scenes is shown with his wife and children going shopping in a small town (good shot of Ford Anglia car and Hillman Imp parked at roadside) they walk past shops, Lloyds bank, fruit shop, butchers, electrical goods shop and chemists.
A man and a boy are clean a car in a suburban neighbourhood, their neighbour mows his lawn with a hand-driven lawnmower in the background. View of a river in the countryside, with a couple standing in the distance surveying the scene. Back to the car in the driveway, the lorry-driver and family all get into the car (the narrator gets a bit philosophical about the human condition at this point)
View of the town of Evesham taken from a church or cathedral, followed by a view of Worcester Cathedral taken from the bank of the River Severn with an old stone bridge in the foreground. The family in their car drive down a track - pan across to show a view of the town of Ironbridge on the side of a hill. A view of a valley, spanned by the famous original Iron Bridge, with the children running down a path toward it, followed by their parents. A man walks in a beautiful woodland setting, the sunlight streaming down through the trees. A picnic spread is prepared by the mother in a glade, with the disused brick chimney and winding gear of an old mine obscured by trees in the background. She beckons to the children and her husband to come over and eat and they appear from what looks like part of the mine-workings and sit down to eat joined by the father. A close-up of the family sitting on the ground eating the picnic, Mother pours a drink from a thermos flask. Close-up the father's face as he talks (mute).
Close-up view of stone being blasted in a Dolorite quarry, camera pulls back, view of whole quarry, with conveyer type structure visible. Lorry with 'Tarmac' insignia on the side, drives towards and past the camera, away from the quarry works in the background. The same lorry drives past a view of the Black Country, with towns visible across a flat plain. Several shots of lorries driving along the motorway again, one with a close-up of a road sign saying 'London 67'. The lorry arrives at a dock, view of a row of cranes, one of which lifts a large crate into a cargo boat. View across water of a cargo boat being pulled by a tugboat, smoke streaming out of is chimney, rows of cranes visible on the busy dockside in the background, followed by another from a different angle. A boat steams past on the river, factory chimneys visible in the background. Ends.

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