Film ID:
YFA 4443



Visitor Tabs


This film is one of the products of a scheme set up in 1948 at Ellerby Lane Primary School that aimed to teach English and Film appreciation. It was directed by, shot by, and starred pupils enrolled at the school, and the film was completed in the July of 1953.

The film begins with a series of intertitles:
“Ellerby Lane C.P. School presents”
“Brought to Justice”
“Story by members of form 3A”
“Original plot by Alan Allman”
“Art director John Fisher. Assisted by A Haigh. S Kay. E Confrey”
“Camera work Charles Blackburn. Brenda Waddington”
“Continuity by Joan Hainsworth”
“Assistant director Alan Allman”
“Cast  Joan… Sylvia Walls.   John… Arthur Gouland.   Bill… Leslie Ward.   Miss Roberts… S. Wright.   Thief… Eric Isotta”.

A calendar hangs on the wall. It has “Leeds” printed on it and shows a view of the city. It states the month as being May 1953. Patterned wallpaper can be seen to the right hand side of it.

At Ellerby Lane School, children play in the playground, a few girls are skipping. A cobbled street is visible in the foreground. A girl and boy (Joan and John) sit on top of a brick wall. She wears a knee length dark skirt, a blouse, cardigan and white socks with black shoes. He wears full trousers and a zipped up jacket. They both have short hair and side parting; the boy’s hair looks combed and gelled.

They talk and point to something off camera. Behind them, terraced houses are visible.

A group of children gather round a poster stuck on the wall. They point to it. It says: “Ellerby Lane School form 3A class outing to Ripon. Funds needed. How will you help?” A child from the group shouts to the couple on the wall and they jump off and run over. They look at the poster. A close up, followed by an extreme close up emphasise its message: “Funds needed. How will you help?”

There are piles of comics laid out on a wooden table in the school yard. Titles include “Topper”, “Comic Cuts”, “Kit Carson”, “Buck Jones”, “Girl”, “Frogman”, “Dandy”, “Beano”, “Girls’ Crystal”, amongst others. A propped up paper sign in the middle says “Second hand comics for sale”. Three girls stand behind the table. Potential customers look and come and go. One boy sits in front of the table on the group reading a comic.

There is a white bowl with a sign behind that says “Trip Fund”. It fills with a few pennies. Two boys walk into the yard pushing a wheelbarrow full of empty glass jars. The bowl fills with a few more pennies. A boy walks towards a man dressed in white up a ladder on the side of a building. It has “factory” painted on it, the rest of the text not visible in this shot. He is a painter, carrying a bucket of paint and a brush. He comes down the ladder and hands the boy his tools. The boy goes up the ladder in a very cautious manner, taking one step at a time. The trip fund acquires more pennies and a one pound note. Two girls polish a car; more money goes into the fund. Then the film fades to black.

Joan and John walk down the street together. They stop outside a shop (with a number three over the window) which has painted on it “Civility Stores”. On the windows are the words “Orders Delivered”, “Service and Satisfaction” and behind boxes of Kellogg’s Bran Flakes and Condensed Milk are visible. They point at a sign displayed, which reads: “Lady wants help in her garden (children preferred). Will pay 1/ per hour. Apply within”. The shopkeeper comes out and writes down the lady’s details for the children: “Miss Roberts, 35 Vancouver Place”.

A boy (Bill) sits on a metal fence next to the road reading “Topper”. Smoking factories and mills can be seen behind him, the scene all looking very industrial. Joan and John approach him and they all walk away down the road together. They pass a sign for Vancouver Place, a street of semi-detached houses. They come to number thirty five, open the wooden gate and go in. Joan rings the doorbell. A girl (intended to look like an old woman) comes out almost instantaneously. She wears an apron and a headscarf and her left arm is in a sling. This is Miss Roberts. She looks at the card and runs back in the house, comes back, and then takes the children to a shed in her back garden. They go into the shed and each come back out carrying a gardening tool; one boy with a spade, one boy with a pitchfork, and the girl with hedge clippers. The old woman shuts the shed door.

The children get straight to work. Joan puffs and wipes her brow, acting very tired. A suspicious looking character, covered in shadow, watches them from over the fence. He walks into the garden in a hunched and sneaky manner and then hides behind a bush and peeps out. He creeps behind the greenhouse, right next to where the children are working.

The children have dug up a metal box. They wipe off the dirt from the top and open it. Inside the lid it says “Mary Roberts. Bonds and Banknotes. October 1939”. It is a forgotten box filled with money buried just a month after the start of the Second World War for safe keeping. Joan directs the boys to go and tell Miss Roberts about the discovery and the boys run to the door and knock. She comes out and they tell her all about it. At the same time, the suspicious character runs in, pushes Joan over, and steals the box.

Bill, John and Joan all run after the thief. They run all through the suburbs. There are two boys playing marbles on the ground. Joan stops to inform them of the situation and the boys stop playing and join in the chase. Three girls skipping in the road do also. While the chase continues, it is possible to see what looks like an Anderson shelter in one of the gardens they pass.

Yet more children join the chase. The thief runs down some steps and through a metal gate, which he closes behind him. The children are close behind, but as they open the gate, one of the boys at the front falls over. The thief runs down the street, passing a parked car with the registration: VY 9805. Back at the gate, a few of the children have now fallen over each other.

The thief jumps down a brick wall and continues to run, closely followed. He runs through a field of tall grass behind a mill and falls over whilst trying to jump over a fence. He gets up and carries on. They run at the side of a canal, a boat passing them as they do.

The thief hides behind a wall, looking back and catching his breath. He has a dirty face and scruffy appearance. He starts running again. In a grassy field, some boys leap out from the ground and ambush him. He falls down and everyone pounces on him. They wrestle to keep him still while he struggles.

Joan runs ahead of the group to telephone the police from a telephone box. The others follow on behind, dragging the thief along with them. Joan passes between a sign which says “Road works ahead” and a car with the registration: GUW B7 on her way. She goes into the box and dials nine-nine-nine on the rotary telephone. They all wait, the thief looking very annoyed, and then the police car pulls up. It looks like any other car except it has Police written on it in very small letters on the front. There are two policemen; one takes details and makes notes in his book whilst the other holds the thief. They put him into the back of the car and drive away, registration: ONW 858. The policeman in the passenger’s side sticks his arm out of the window to indicate that they are pulling out.

Two newspaper men stand on a street corner with news boards: “Leeds School Children Capture Thief – Evening Post” and “Forgotten Hoard Found – Children Foil Thief”. Joan, John and Bill get copies to read. A close up on the back of one of the papers shows the real headline “Christie Judge: A Horrible and Horrifying Case”, referring to the case of Yorkshire serial killer John Reginald Halliday Christie.

The same calendar from the beginning of the film shows the month to now by July. The three heroes, all still wearing the same outfits, return to Miss Roberts’ house. They return the box to her. She takes it and gives each of them a one pound note and shakes their hands. They put the money in the trip fund.

A poster on the school wall reads: “Ripon Outing July 6th”. A bus waits outside the school with kids lined up. They get on, and as John does so he turns to the camera and gives a thumbs up.

Intertitle: “The End”
“The film was directed by Mary Milner”.

There is then footage of Mary talking to someone on her left, sitting in front of the camera.