Film ID: NEFA 19978 Video of NEFA 19978 Local Studies: Near Home LOCAL STUDIES: NEAR HOME 1945 Visitor TabsDescription Educational film produced as part of the Ministry of Education Visual Unit on Local Studies by Basic Films in October 1945, and released in 1949. The film describes how a group of school children in Bishop Auckland become interested in local studies, and follows their progress as they plan, organize, and begin their studies of the locality, co-ordinating the results of their work in an exhibition of maps, models, graphs, records, charts, diagrams, plans and photographs. The film includes casting in steel at Wilson’s Forge, panoramic views of the rural landscape from Brusselton Hill, south of Bishop Auckland, footage of activities at Grange Hill Farm, and of parts of the Roman fort at Binchester. Title: Near Home Part 1. Sound print Still of historic map of Bishop Auckland. Title: This film is part of the Ministry of Education Visual Unit on Local Studies Credits: Produced by Basic Films Photography Gerald Gibbs Recording Leo Wilkins Music Francis Chagrin "Richards" played by Donald Finlay Credit: Written & directed by Kay Mander with the assistance of children and townspeople of Bishop Auckland The film opens with a panoramic view of the rural landscape from Brusselton Hill, south of Bishop Auckland and aerial views of Bishop Auckland. Two boys run through country fields and join a group of schoolchildren and their teacher lounging on a grassy hill near an old stone tower. The children discuss their local area and the history of Bishop Auckland with their teacher. The teacher suggests separating into groups to investigate different areas and industries around Bishop Auckland. The children are now gathered with their teacher in an informal school classroom with trestle table and Bentwood chairs, discussing their different local studies interests, the resources they will use, and the local people they will talk to in investigating the history of the Bishop Auckland area. Close-up of a child writing a list in a school exercise book: “1. Where Bishop Auckland is and the weather. 2. Hide forge. 3. Growth of Bishop Auckland. Inside the classroom, the teacher asks the children, including two girls with long pigtails, questions about their local studies interests and the children suggest things they would like to research. One of the girls would like to know what happens at the Town Hall. The children leave the stone school house building and cluster eagerly around the teacher on the street. Three of the boys are not as enthusiastic about the project and tramp off down the street to play, their arms around each other’s shoulders. Next, one of the girls wearing pigtails runs down a street, and opens the gate to her home. Inside, her father picks an old book from his library, and her mother retrieves old documents from a bureau drawer, which may help with the local studies project. Three of the children walk along a path beside a rail track, looking over a fence at some large 1930s factory buildings, one of which houses the West Auckland Clothing Company in St Helen’s Auckland. Another girl and boy look at a framed old photograph on a wall. Two girls walk with a man they are questioning through the gardens of a mansion (or possibly Auckland Palace). Two children head off Newgate in Bishop Auckland (the shop front for Maurice’s in shot) down a side street, and enter the offices of the South West Durham Development Board. Two other boys talk to a man on the doorstep of the firm, J. Ford Engineers and Surveyors. The teacher makes a telephone call. He must also do research to keep in touch with the children’s interests. Dressed in raincoat and hat, he meets a man in the Market Place, chats to another over a pint of beer at the bar of a local pub. Close-up of hands typing, and of a typed letter addressed to Wilson’s Forge, North Church Road, Bishop Auckland. Four of the children and the teacher visit a farm, talking to the farmer outside in the yard. Back at the school, the children study maps with the teacher, and cluster around the sand model of the area they have made. Close-ups of the sand model are intercut with school children observing the models and discussions. Some of the school children visit Wilson’s Forge in South Church Road, opposite Bishop Auckland cemetery, and observe the casting process. Others visit the Parish Church of St. Andrews Auckland, St. Ann’s Chapel, Bishop’s Palace. They consult antiquarian books and records. Some children walk through the farmyard of Grange Hill Farm. Others are pouring through old records and a census. High angle view of Market square, Durham, as the children head across towards Durham University Palace Green Library. The scene then cuts to the interior of Bishop Auckland Public Library with its old card catalogue cabinets. Helped by the librarian, they consult various reference materials, including maps. The children enter their school once again and begin to work on a relief scale model of the area. They paint signs and construct exhibition stands to display their local study. A group of boys put up a poster for their exhibition outside a building. Local people visit the local studies exhibition. One boy explains the work to an army officer at the show. Exterior shots of Bishop Auckland from a nearby hill follow. Two children skim stones in the river beside Jock’s Bridge carrying the public road to Binchester over the River Gaunless near the confluence with River Wear, at the edge of Auckland Castle Park. Back inside the local studies exhibition, children continue to explain details of their displays to visitors. Their points are then illustrated with shots of their visits. A high angle shot of Bishop Auckland Market Place is followed by shots of the children peering from a church window at the views outside of Newgate Street and Auckland Castle gatehouse. Four children head down the steep Wear Chare in Bishop Auckland. General views of the meadows beside the River Wear viewed from Wear Chare. A flock of geese move through the village green at Binchester. Some school children walk around the area looking for the remains of the Roman fort (Vinovia). They look at the remains of a Roman military bath house hypocaust, or heating system, and move through the underground tunnels of the bath house. Outside again, they examine some of the remaining Roman walls. At the local studies exhibition the teacher shows displays to a male visitor and discusses it with the boy. Children visit Linford’s Baking powder factory, where Co-operative Society Bakery department carts are parked up outside. Three children peer over a fence at the West Auckland Clothing Company in St Helen Auckland. A large group of the children walk in front of the 1930s factory building. Two children cycle down a country road. Inside Wilson’s Forge, a group of the children on the Local Studies project observe how pit-tub wheels are cast in the steel working workshops, look at coal tubs for local mines lined up on a rail track outside, and watch a man operating a mechanical saw used to make patterns for the casting process. Outside, five children look at the Bessemer converter furnace. Close-ups of the furnace and of molten metal pouring into small moulds follow. Once more, there are scenes inside the children’s exhibition. Some of the children are then seen at Grange Hill Farm, where they observe the processes of dairy farming. Cows are milked by a mechanical milking machine. A boy joins his class mates in an upstairs grain store. Out in the farm’s barley fields, two children ride a tractor with a farm worker, and then collapse together on the newly harvested barley field. Back in the exhibition, there are shots of the different wall displays including a poster illustrating the distribution of collieries in the area. The teacher and a visiting councillor (?) discuss local studies as an educational tool. The film ends with general views of children in the countryside and a panoramic view of the landscape south of Bishop Auckland. End Credits: The End. A Basic Film for the Ministry of Information October 1945. Title: End of Part 3. Near Home [This charming vision of small school education in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, follows a group of children who embark on an ambitious study of their town, guided by an inspirational teacher. The film was produced by the Ministry of Education and suggests that, as self-directed learners, the children are being prepared for a life of freedom and enquiry in the post-war world. The film documents many Bishop Auckland landmarks as the children's investigations lead them all over town: from Wilson's Forge on South Church Road (closed in 1997), to Grange Hill Farm and Lingford's baking powder factory on Durham Street. It was directed by the prolific and innovative documentary filmmaker Kay Mander through her own production company, Basic Films. BFI ] Context This film was written and directed by the prolific British documentary film maker, Kay Mander. Described by The Guardian as ‘one of the great lost hopes of British film,’ (Jeffries) Mander is considered a pioneer in non-fiction filmmaking and was one of the few women directors working in the industry during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1935 Mander moved to Berlin where she was hired as a receptionist for Joseph Goebbels’ Berlin international film congress. Here, Mander met British film mogul Alexander Korda who helped her acquire work at his London Film Productions on her return to Britain. Mander began her career as a film director in 1940 when she was asked to direct a series of short films for the Ministry of Education, this engaging film set in Bishop Auckland being a later example. Her 1949 French language film for the Ministry, La Famille Martin won a British Film Academy Award. In London pubs, Mander socialised with left wing artists such as Dylan Thomas and Francis Bacon, subsequently becoming a communist (her association with the Communist Party of Great Britain would cause her great difficulty in finding work after the war). She became associated with a group of British documentary-makers at the Film Centre who believed film should be used to record the lives of real people, using no actors or sets, and as little scripted dialogue as possible. In early 1945, Mander and her husband Neilson Baxter established Basic Films, a production company specialising in educational and promotional films for government and industrial sponsors. After the war, Mander worked in Indonesia, where she made one of her most popular films, Mardi and the Monkey (1953). On her return to Britain, and due to the difficulty of finding work as a director, she embarked on a new career in film continuity until the 1990s, working on such notable films as From Russia With Love, The Most Dangerous Man in the World and with prolific directors including Francois Truffaut and Ken Russell. Although Mander declared in 2002 that she is “not a feminist” and expressed her resistance to be considered a feminist icon, her importance in women’s film history cannot be denied. When asked about the typical role for women in the film industry during the 1940s and 1950s, Mander noted most women were employed as secretaries, negative cutters and wardrobe assistants, recalling widespread industry surprise when she was appointed as assistant art director. In 1937, Mander was also notably the first woman to be a member of the Association of Cine Technicians (ACT), where she wrote a journal on union issues until the 1950s (Jeffries). Mander’s left wing political leanings undoubtedly influenced her directing style, believing her films should educate on the poor conditions of the working classes. This film is characteristic of Mander’s own style of film making, where she often used professional actors, in this case television actor Donald Finlay (star of It’s a Great Day ), and local people to effectively combine documentary and drama. Held less than two months after VE Day, the general election of 1945 was the first general election in Britain since 1935. The Labour Party, under the leadership of Clement Attlee, won its first majority government and a mandate to implement its postwar reforms, replacing Conservative leader Winston Churchill in late July. Under Attlee’s government, a post-war consensus was implemented, a model of political co-operation which lasted until the late-1970s, when it was repudiated by Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher. Majorities in both parties agreed upon the consensus which tolerated nationalisation, strong trade unions, heavy regulation, high taxes, and a generous welfare state. The Education Act 1944 was a core element of this post-war consensus and was written as an answer to increasing social and educational demands created by the war and the widespread demands for social reform. The Act made a number of major changes in Educational provision in England and Wales and is generally considered to have been a success for progressive reform. The Act opened new opportunities for working class children and ceased payable fees for secondary education. Results of the Act were to increase the openness of secondary schools to the working class, to increase the percentage of children attending higher education, which tripled from 1% to 3%, and it also made it a legal requirement for local education authorities to provide school meals and milk, remitting the charges in cases of hardship. The Education Act 1944 renamed the Board of Education as the Ministry of Education, giving it greater powers and a bigger budget. Discussions from 1943 led to the Ministry producing an experimental programme of films specifically designed for the secondary classroom. This decision was based on pre-war evidence from the teaching and cultural sectors about the social and cultural influence of film. The final programme included 8 visual units, comprised of a film for classroom projection with accompanying printed material and teachers' notes. This was the first governmental intervention to establish film as a form of visual education (Southern, 8) and this film, just one in the Ministry’s programme, will be of interest to enthusiasts of public information films. Landmarks and industries of note in the film include the Roman Fort ‘Vinovia,’ situated 1 mile north of Bishop Auckland at Binchester. Little is known about pre-Roman settlement in the immediate area, though it is accepted this fort was established around AD 79 to guard the crossing of the River Wear by Dere Street, which acted as the main Roman road between York, Hadrian's Wall and Scotland. The children visit Lingford’s baking powder factory on Durham Street. The company was formed in Bishop Auckland in 1861 by Quaker brothers Joseph and Samuel Lingford, originally from Nottingham. A woman family friend in Nottingham was admired by the Lingford family due to the excellence of her cakes and pastries, her secret ingredient being baking powder. Joseph began making baking powder in Bishop Auckland and by 1871 he was required to move to bigger premises in Newgate Street, then, in 1888, a factory in Durham Street was opened. As well as baking powder, Lingfords made custard powder, blancmange powder, cornflour and sherbert. Lingford’s closed its doors 1973, but its recipe books live on in the countless homes across the north east and beyond (“Code war helped by baking powder”). Intriguingly, Lingford’s was official sponsor to the HMS Tartar warship, a Tribal class destroyer, early in the war. Lingford’s chose HMS Tartar due to the vital role played by tartar in the creation of baking powder. Lingford’s regularly sent the ship supplies of books, papers, food-stuffs, comforts, games and gramophone records (“Code war helped by baking powder”). The footage captured in Wilson’s Forge down Blue Row, and also at Grange Hill Farm (which still operates today) where the children observe the milking of the cows, was reused by the Ministry of Education for the Local Studies series, but this time in the form of instructional silent films with intertitles to impart information to the audience on the manufacturing process of different British industries. Particularly with the footage of Wilson’s Forge (closed in 1997), which produced moulds for mining cart wheels out of steel, the footage shot originally for Near Home serves today as a lasting requiem for a lost but not forgotten industry in north east England. Together with Downstream through Durham, both films depict a poetic industrial circle of life in the north east, with the steel casting of cart wheels at Wilson’s Forge in Near Home serving the mining industry, and the mining of fluorspar and quarrying of ganister in Downstream through Durham serving the steel industry. Wilson's steel works, Bishop Auckland, also features in a 1960s promotional film by Newcastle-based Turners Fim Productions held in the NEFA collections Come to South West Durham It is interesting to think how different this film would look were it being made today. The Heath and Safety concerns of our protagonists were clearly not as big a priority in 1945 as they would be today. The children wander bare-legged and bare-headed through the steel works, standing dangerously close to a large saw in the mill and observing the shower of sparks gushing from the furnace. Worthy of note in the film is the reference to the Boldon Book. One student described his exhibition display as a photograph and translation of the Boldon Book, made by ‘one of the Bishops,’ ‘a catalogue of all the lands that belonged to him.’ The Boldon Book was completed in 1153 on the orders of Hugh du Puiset, Bishop of Durham, to assist the administration of the vast diocesan estates. Like the Domesday Book from the previous century, the Boldon Book surveyed the bishop's lands in what would become County Durham and other parts of the north east of England. The Boldon Book provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the medieval tenants on these estates. The student in this film explains the expansion of the town since the medieval period, noting that as the town got bigger, it expanded down Newgate Street. The children in this film act out new ideas for post-war education, which would be shown to children of the same age in classrooms across Britain. It was hoped the film would inspire others to undertake similar historical and cultural research projects, promoting active, self-directed learning in a period of educational reform and experimentation. References: “Boldon Book.”Victoria County History. https://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/explore/items/boldon-book Easen, Sarah. “Mander, Kay (1915-2013)” Screen Online, BFI. http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/559726/index.html “Code war helped by baking powder.” Northern Echo, 2001. https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/7094237.code-war-helped-by-baking-powder/ Jeffries, Stuart. “I had a whale of a time.” The Guardian, 2002. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2002/dec/05/artsfeatures.features Southern, Alex. The Ministry of Education Film Experiment: From Post-War Visual Education to 21st Century Literacy. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.