Film ID: NEFA 8265 Video of NEFA 8265 Billingham at Play 1935 BILLINGHAM AT PLAY 1935 Visitor TabsDescription ICI Billingham Film Unit highlights of the ICI Synthonia Club annual sports day in 1935, which features marching jazz bands, fancy dress, sprints, bicycle races and a tug of war. Title: Billingham at Play Title: Photographed by Title: S. Boyle and D.P. Lewis Title: The Synthonia Sports- 1935 Edition- Prove as Popular as ever. On Gala day at the Synthonia cricket field, a band, backs to the camera and drummers at the rear, begins to march forward behind their banner. The band plays to the crowd of people at the Gala, ICI Chilton House in the background. Children watch excitedly at the front of the crowd. The band pass by again. Two boys are watching: one of them wears a cap and braces and is sitting in a pram. A second band, the “Sunderland Bridge Ward Buddies Jazz Band” approach: two young boys trail the banner with guy ropes. The band leader, ostentatiously spreading his arms wide, troops past. Group portrait of three ladies in summer hats and floral dresses in the crowd. Someone in a giant cockerel fancy dress outfit runs past with a sign affixed to his back, that reads "Cock of the North". Another crowd scene follows, where men sit wearing boater hats. A girl points out some action on the field and a boy, back to camera wiggles his bottom in an impromptu dance. A third marching band passes by, their banner, mostly illegible, reads “Hartlepool” at the bottom. All the boys carry horns. Next, a children's fancy dress parade takes place with assorted costumes on show, such as a pierrot, fairy, and soldier carrying a Union Jack. Adults and children out of costume, watch from the sidelines. Consecutive shots of children follow: first a toddler sits in a sun hat looking anxious; three boys sit close to the camera, one grins, one frowns; a boy is drinking from a glass bottle; a group of children walk by in fancy dress that include two Victorians, a clown, a Union flag-bearing solider, and other assorted oddities. Easington Colliery juvenile band marches past. Various shots focus on people in the crowd. The Throston Bluebird Juvenile Jazz Band of Hartlepool then march in the parade, dressed in neck ruffs and baseball caps. Another band, the Hartlepool All Star Charity Jazz Band also marches in the parade. Men are chatting in the crowd. An announcer talks into a Philips microphone while men can be seen in the background updating a scoreboard. Sprinters get on their marks and sprint off at the start of a race, and are filmed as they make the finishing line. A portrait shot of the man who won follows, still panting soon after the race. A man in a waistcoat updates the scoreboard while others collate results at a large table. Two shots of distinguished, suited men in the audience follow. A women's bicycle race sets off. Portrait shot of the winner smiling broadly. Officials are gathered around the finish line of the track. A lone competitor in the walking race passes the finish line. A man again announces results over the Philips microphone. A tug of war competition follows, with two sides heaving on the rope, some men sporting tattoos. The two teams are lined up following the competition. Women wobble on their bicycles as they compete in a go-slow race. The final shot is a close-up of the winner smiling widely. Title: A Billingham Film. Context Billingham workers unwind on Gala Day An enchanting early portrait of workers from the vast ICI chemicals plant on Teesside at leisure between the wars. Time out between the wars for Billingham chemical workers at the ICI Synthonia Club sports and gala day. Last is best in the ladies wobbly go-slow bike race but muscle (and tattoos) win out in a competitive tug of war. Popular local juvenile jazz bands entertain the crowd, but the children in Bo-Peep, fairy and Pierrot fancy dress look glum as they are made to parade past the camera. The Synthonia could be the only club named after a fertiliser – a shortened version of Synthetic Ammonia, the main product for Imperial Chemical Industries at Billingham in the early years, after its formation on Teesside in 1926. The first Chairman, Alfred Mond, employed a measure of Victorian paternalism in running ICI, winning loyalty from workers with great sports and recreation facilities, a cheap monthly 65-page magazine, and regular film screenings. He aimed to create “a band of brothers” in the industry – albeit ones that knew their place in the pecking order. The original wooden sports hut was replaced by a brick built sports club, opened by Lord Melchett in 1931, and bombed during World War Two.