Film ID:
YFA 5614



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This is a documentary on a farming family in Eskdale, part of the Yorkshire Television series Once In A Lifetime, originally broadcast on 3rd April, 1973.  It shows the daily life of the Raw family – John and his wife Dot, and their three daughters and two sons – on their fifty acre farm in Fryup Dale, North Yorkshire.  The main story is of the children’s wish to have a pony, but there is also tension between mum and eldest daughter, emerging from adolescence.  

The film begins with John Raw walking across a snow covered field as the sun comes up carrying a sack, calling his sheep to follow him, with his son Alan (aged 10), behind.  His wife, Dorothy, stands at their front door blowing a whistle to call the family to tea, including Shirley (14), Christine (7), Susan (13) and David (8), showing a view of the farm filmed from above.

Title –   Children of Eskdale

With the snow cleared, John leaves the house carrying a shotgun with his son Alan, crossing over the frosty winter fields.  He meets up with another farmer who has a ferret in a bag which they put near a rabbit hole, and it eventually causes a rabbit to run out which they shoot and bring home.  The other children are playing on swings in the barn.  The children are next seen walking over the moors, teasing Shirley by chanting, “Shirley has a boyfriend.”  They call out to a horse in a field, Prince, which runs off as they approach, while John is ploughing the field.  Back home they join their mother in the kitchen and sit down for tea, where there is more teasing of Shirley who wants to go into town to buy make-up.  They discuss farm and family matters. 

Later, David feeds the chickens and mother feeds the cows.  John appears and explains to David that two of the cocks will have to be culled, and made into pies.  David reluctantly agrees, and chooses Charlie and Simon.  John explains that the same happens with pigs and cows, that’s farming, and if he wants to be farmer he has to accept that.  As John goes to wring the neck of one of the chickens, David walks off, somewhat unhappy.  The children discover several sheep penned in between some gates.  David releases one of them and tries to ride one of the rams.  They run across a field to some friends and have a ride on their ponies before again going to have a look at Prince.

Part two

Part two begins with John in a game of Quoits besides the River Esk, in the village of Lealholm, near the Board Inn.  Then the school bus arrives to pick up Shirley and Susan, as John loads some milk urns onto a trailer.  The bus continues, picking up more children on the way.  The other children arrive at Lealholm Primary School.  Here the class is singing the Anglican hymn “All things bright and beautiful”.  John and his wife have a chat by the kitchen sink, while his children have a biology class.  John and his wife discuss the problem of being able to afford both a tractor and a pony for the children.  The children are now in an arts class, where the teacher talks to them individually.  At playtime they have a snowball fight in the playground.  Shirley and her mother go into a local shop to have a look at some bras for Shirley, and they buy one for 72 pence. 

At the farm John takes delivery of a lorry load of fertilizer sacks.  David works out how many sacks he will need to make up six tons.  Meanwhile Shirley and her mother are at another shop buying make-up for Shirley, who wants navy blue eye make-up, to the distaste of her mother.  The children feed the piglets, and Shirley applies her eye make-up, with posters of David Cassidy and Slade, and a Leeds rosette, on her bedroom wall, with her mother still giving her a hard time with the make-up.  Shirley is getting ready for a dance in the evening, with warnings from her mother that she should be “going around in fours”, and not being alone with John (potential boyfriend.)

At the dance all the girls are dancing to Slade, while all the boys are sat along the wall.  At last a girl grabs a boy, and then another boy gets up, with John eyeing Shirley before summoning up the courage to join her, with mother looking on from a serving hatch.  They all grab some food before the Sweet, with Blockbuster, are played.

The film switches to the children and some of their friends running across a field, followed by John walking across a field with Prince the pony.  He is joined by the pony’s owner and they agree a price. The children play in the barn and John takes Prince to a stables.  There is a mock fight between two boys in the barn.  The next day the children discover Prince in their field and they take it in turns to go for a ride on him.

Research – Julie O’Hare
Sound – Jim Mcann, Terry Ricketts, Terry Cavagin
Camera – Mustafa Hammuni
Film Editor – Graham Shrimpton
Producer/Director - Barry Cockcroft
Executive Producer – John Fairley
Yorkshire Television