Film ID: NEFA 20170 Video of NEFA 20170 Life on a Hill Sheep Farm in Weardale LIFE ON A HILL SHEEP FARM IN WEARDALE 1951 Visitor TabsDescription An amateur film made by Edward Roberts of traditional working life on a hill sheep farm in Weardale. The film includes footage of lambing season and sheep shearing with hand clippers. The filmmaker, son of a miner from Mount Pleasant, was at the time County Inspector for Schools in the Durham City, Spennymoor and Weardale areas. Title: Life on a Hill Sheep Farm in Weardale. Title: Collecting the sheep. The film opens with scenes on a hillside where, in the distance, a flock of sheep are herded down into a valley. A farmer and his sheep dog help to guide the flock through a gate and down a country lane into a farm yard. Title: Dipping. One by one sheep are dropped into the dipping bath by a number of farm hands. One farm hand uses a shepherds crook to push the sheep’s head under the liquid sheep dip. Once out of the bath, the sheep are herded into a pen. Out on the hillside the farmer sends a sheep dog off to herd more sheep. The dog herds a small flock back towards the farmer. Title: Lambing Season. The film shows a number of ewes with their lambs out on the hillside. The farmer and sheep dog herd them away from a stone wall. A lamb suckles from a ewe. The farmer assists another lamb to suckle. The farmer walks back across the hillside. Title: Two motherless lambs to be adopted by two ewes whose lambs have died. The farmer pulls the fleece off a dead lamb and places it on the back of another. Two of the farmer's ewes are grazing in a field. Two lambs run over to them and they all walk of together. Title: Shearing. Outside a farm building a farm hand holds an un-sheared sheep by its forelegs. Inside a barn, a sheep is being shorn using hand clippers. A young farm hand begins to shear another sheep, overseen by another farm hand. He is a lot slower than the first shearer. Outside again, a farm hand holds up the now shorn sheep, while two others display the shorn fleece. The film closes with shots of the shorn sheep being branded with a “V” sign, and herded back into a pen. Context The son of a miner with a passion for the County Durham landscape pays tribute to hard working hill sheep farmers in remote Weardale. A gifted amateur filmmaker, Edward Roberts grew up in a mining community in County Durham and retained a passion for its landscape and people, which shines through in this sensitive, instructive portrait of traditional sheep farming in the harsh landscape of Weardale - herding flocks in mid-winter, sheep dipping, blade-shearing, and lambing in spring. In 1930 Edward Roberts (1893-1975) became Headmaster of Broom School in Ferryhill and also a County Inspector for Schools in Durham City, Spennymoor and Weardale areas. He pioneered the use of visual aids in the classroom and, in his spare time, made several films including a beautiful colour documentary of Durham Miners’ Galas in the 1950s, and this celebration of age-old rural skills, now a record of a vanishing way of life in the Durham Dales. The film was made for the Audio-Visual Library he was creating for the Durham County Council Education Committee.