Film ID:
YFA 2329

THORNCLIFFE- A STORY OF ENTERPRISE IN ITS SEVENTH GENERATION

1953

Visitor Tabs

Description

This documentary is a promotional film that profiles the Newton Chambers Factory, based in the Thorncliffe Valley near Sheffield.  It closed down in the early 1970s but was an important manufacturing works that was involved in producing ironwork such as tanks, gas holders, and even domestic range ovens.  It also had a large chemical output often used as a base for disinfectant products.  Through a combination of voiceover and footage that captures life at the factory, the film tells the story of Newton Chambers history to present day 1953, and how it was at the heart of the community employing most of the people from the surrounding area.

The film opens with a close up of a hand-drawn map that shows the valley of Thorncliffe and the small villages of High Green, Chapeltown, and Ecclesfield that surround it.  The narrator explains that, due to the wealth of coal in the adjacent outcrops, Mr George Newton and Mr Thomas Chambers decided to invest in the land in the 19th century and build an industrial factory of the future.

Following this is a clear aerial shot over the valley present day, the camera tracks across the area showing the huge factories that are now nestled in the Thorncliffe Valley.  Many shots of the interior of the factory are shown at ground level.  It is a hive of activity as men covered in soot cast machine parts from pig iron. Cutting to an aerial tracking shot taken from high up in the factory, the camera surveys the work.  Men are dwarfed by the metal objects they build looking like huge cups and saucers that pass by them on a conveyer belt.  The goods are transported out of the area by huge trucks that drive along the small terraced streets.

Next the film focuses on the industry to concentrate on the employees and their daily pattern of life at the factory.  A whistle sounds, and the men are off to lunch.  They eat in the purpose built canteens which segregate the male and female workers at the plant.  The company permeates all aspects of employees’ lives, as various facilities and services are provided for the employees such as the Newton Chambers Bank, a supermarket, church, gym, surgery and library all there for the staff and staff alone.  Lively music plays over these scenes making clear the idea that working for Newton Chambers means more than just a job, and that each and every one is part of a larger family.

Back in the factory the diversity of industry is shown.  Redfyre ranges (still made today by another company) are shown in close up.  This is to emphasise that after the War, the company understood to compete in the future, it must expand its manufacturing output.  Moving back inside, women contribute to the company as they make the Izal products.  Close ups show ‘Izal Germicide,’ and clear long shots concentrate on the massive production of the disinfectants packaged in bottles and cans.  An upbeat jazz soundtrack compliments the movement of the bottles down the conveyer belt.

Newton Chambers was also involved with the children of its employees’ lives and ran a successful apprenticeship scheme for both boys and girls in their early teens.  They were introduced into factory life through a combination of school work to keep up with studies, practical work in the factory departments, and play as the children had access to the works modern gymnasium.  Boys can be seen training at lathes and are also shown by the craftsmen how theory is put into practice.  Some of the girls are in the classroom completing lessons, and others are in the gym using the different equipment to keep them fit and healthy.

Finally the film comes to a close with a tour of the office buildings and laboratories that are in stark contrast with the other parts of Newton Chambers as there is an air of still calmness within.  A self-sufficient community is captured in this carefully put together production that is made in association with Newton Chambers film unit.

Credits at start of film:

Newton Chambers and Co. Present

Thorncliffe- A Story of Enterprise in its Seventh Generation

A Jack Savard Production

Thorncliffe 1953

Cinematography J.M Burgoyne-Johnson

Written and Directed by Fred Moore