Film ID: YFA 767 Video of YFA_767 Street Cleansing 1946 STREET CLEANSING 1946 Visitor TabsDescription This film consists of two separate parts, the first of which shows street cleaning, rubbish collection, and refuse disposal in Bradford. The second part of the film features the Bradford’s Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress. The film begins with a workman sweeping up rubbish from the curb and emptying it into a hand pushed cart. The rubbish bin is hooked onto a post, and pedestrians can be seen walking past in the background. The rubbish from the cart is emptied into a yellow truck. In the background there is a queue of people waiting for a bus, and a trolley bus passes by with an advert for ‘Bovril’ on the front. From a red truck two workmen insert a large pipe into a roadside drain, and this pipe is then emptied into another roadside drain. At another location two men empty bins into a rubbish truck. This particular truck has a box attached to the back labelled “Salvage Kitchen Waste.” Here, separate rubbish is deposited. Certain elements of the rubbish are separated, and a man is packing down paper into a bailing machine. One of the paper trucks backs up towards the bailer to have its load of waste paper emptied by a man using a rake. There is a view over an empty Odsal stadium with ‘Hammond’s Ales’ painted in large letters on the stand roof. At the stadium, some workmen are raking rubbish into a pile in a large open land dump. A truck makes its way down the hill to empty its load of rubbish into a landfill dump, and a man tips the load using a winch at the side of truck. The final portion of the film has been shot in black and white. The Mayor and Lady Mayoress greet some people inside a large building. Then the Mayor and Lady Mayoress make speeches from a platform to a crowd of people seated at tables in Lister Park. Children can be seen playing on the outskirts. Context This film is one of many made by Robert Sharp, a textile retailer from Bradford. The YFA holds over 30 films either made by, or on behalf of, Bob Sharp, dating from the late 1930s through to the late 1950s. The films cover a variety of subjects: not only the Sharp floor covering business, but also reflecting Bob’s interests and hobbies, his work as a councillor, and his family films. It was with the films made during the Second World War however, especially of 'Holidays at Home' weeks – when it was difficult to holiday by the sea – that his filming really took off. Collectively they give a fascinating portrait of Bradford during the 1940s, and record important civic events and personalities. The year before this film was made, 1945, Bob Sharp also filmed Ernest Bevin visiting Bradford, when he was still Minister of Labour. It was his fascination with whatever was the latest gadget that led Bob Sharp into getting a cine camera with which to shoot expensive 16mm film. Although, liking to be the centre of attention, he preferred to be in front of it rather then behind it! He began in his father’s floor covering business in 1911 at the age of 15. His father began the business in 1886, with Bob starting his first shop on Leeds Road before moving to 16 Rawlson Place after the First World War. More stores opened up in Halifax, Huddersfield and Newcastle – one of them featured in Sharp's Halifax Shop (1949). He always had a stall on Bradford market and would go around other local towns selling off-cuts from the back of a wagon. Being something of a showman, in his characteristic large homburg hat, Bob enjoyed being out and getting to his customers. The shop in the old Kirkstall Market can be seen in his film 700th Anniversary of Bradford Market Charter (1951), also on YFA Online (see the Context for this film for more on this). Bob was also well known for his generosity: speaking on the ITV series The Way We Were, his daughter-in-law, Pauline Sharp, relates one occasion his taking home for tea the great actor and comedian Max Wall, who was playing at the Alhambra Theatre. Also keen on his football, Bob almost single-handedly kept Bradford City going during the Second World War. Becoming Director, Chairman and Manager during the war (1943-46), he was always trying to put together a scratch team to ensure some local football. Altogether he spent ten years on the Valley Parade board, and followed Bradford City home and away, rarely missing a game. It was his genuine desire to improve Bradford that led him to become a councillor and it was this that led to the filming of Street Cleansing. He was a councillor for Bradford Moor from 1931 to 1934 and from 1937 to 1945, and also represented Eccleshill for two years from 1950. The YFA has several films that Sharp made during 1945 when he was the Deputy Lord Mayor, and used this position to film the then Mayor, Cecil Barnett, at his duties. Bob wanted to be Lord Mayor himself, but was pipped to the post by Kathleen Chambers who became the first female Lord Mayor on November 9, 1945. Bob served on various committees, including the Health and Cleansing Committee. With an eye for publicity he used the film to promote the work of Bradford City Council among other neighbouring Councils. In the 1920s and 1930s Bradford had done much to replace the slum housing that was such a health hazard. In line with this, during the Second World War, Bradford had a programme of recycling much of its waste disposal. Council minutes from the war period mention a 'Book Recovery and Waste Paper Drive' - organised by the Directorate of Salvage and Recovery, Ministry of Supply - where waste paper would be collected from households and sold to waste paper merchants and mills. This can be seen in the film. It is interesting to see this early example of recycling, which presumably did not last once the post war shortages were overcome. As well as the landfill site near Odsal stadium, tips sprang up all over the city, including school playing fields. Local firms were employed to carry refuse to these sites. During the Second World War Robert Sharp made some films under the general title of 'Holidays at Home' which showed people enjoying themselves at various local events. According to the Telegraph and Argus (27 June, 1958) this included some film of Esholt Sewage Works. The YFA has three films from this series, but this footage does not seem to be included within these. This is a shame as the Esholt works – the Sludge Disposal Building, later known as the Press House – was one of the most innovative aspect of the new scheme, and provides a good example of the forward thinking of the Council. At the Esholt works 128 steam filter presses compressed the sludge, extracting the grease and leaving the remains suitable as fertiliser which could then be sold to farmers. The recovered grease was separated into three grades providing a variety of uses from railway axle grease to paint and polish. The sewage works had its own laboratory and research team to investigate new uses for the grease extracts, resulting in a number of branded products for both home and export markets. Paint produced from one of the by-products was used to brighten up council houses across the district as well as Esholt Hall. By 1949 the income from sales - over £3 million since 1900 - was meeting all the costs of operating the plant. Bradford was one of the few disposal authorities making a profit from its activities, at last proving that "where there's muck there's brass." However, the continued success of the Esholt marketing operations depended on one factor - Bradford's woollen textile trade. Bradford's textile industry is now near to extinction and the Sludge Disposal Building is derelict. But much of the Esholt complex is still in operation, continuing to benefit the city. (with special thanks to Sarah Powell, Local History Librarian, Bradford, who provided much information and the text on Esholt Sewage Works) References Bob Duckett, Aspects Of Bradford, Wharncliffe Books, 1999. John Scanlon, On Garbage, Reakton Books, London, 2005. For a broad cultural and philosophical take on garbage.