Film ID:
YFA 4074



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This is a film made by W G Gregory for the Education Committee of the City of Sheffield to help young adults choose a career by providing information on all the courses that are available.  The film covers a huge range of skilled occupations taught at technical colleges and provides a wealth of examples of the activities on offer in classes for those leaving school as well as adults. Throughout the film intertitles provide information, prompt the viewer with questions, and give advice.

Title and Credits:  ‘Tinker, Taylor . . ?’  
‘Produced by the Education Committee of the City of Sheffield, by W.M. Watkins’ 
‘The Education Committee recognises its indebtedness to all those who have contributed to the production of this film, the employees and directors of many Sheffield firms, the students, teachers, head teachers and principals serving under the committee.’
‘Titles: F.D.Lindley. W.G. Gregory. A.Ellis Blow.’
‘Illustrations:  H. Polan, R.J.R. Williamson.  Machine Drawing J.B. Spir.’
‘Story, Script, Photography, Direction: W.G. Gregory’

The titles come up over film of a ‘tinker’ who is out in the woods cooking over an open fire. 

A boy leafs through a picture book about a tinker.  This is followed by a long sequence showing various jobs beginning with a youth welding and some men pulling a container of molten metal out of a furnace before pouring it into moulds.  Then the men put some red hot metal through a machine to be hammered and then rolled into shape. Others work on a metal lathe and a cutting machine, an electric saw shaping wood, a workman measures the dimensions on a lathe.  Workers are shown in a number of other occupations:  there is a miner at the coalface, a railway engine driver, a bus driver, a woman on an adding machine, a woman running off prints from a stencil machine, a hairdresser, a baker, a typist, a phone operator, someone checking an electrical or telephone exchange.  The film then returns back to the forge, the welder, and finally, the tinker.

Titles again are displayed against a background where the tinker is sitting by his fire. 

Title – ‘What have you decided to be?’  ‘YOU?’ ‘A choice made lightly may prove a lifelong load.  Let the best within you choose.’  ‘Authority?’ ‘Let it be well used for good’  ‘MONEY’  ‘EASE’  ‘In INTEREST you will find much true happiness’  ‘Let your job need Skill’ ‘Let your job need KNOWLEDGE’ ‘YOUR choice!’ ‘WHAT IS IT TO BE? 

Two adults in a classroom sit at a table with pen and paper and consider which course to choose.

Again, there are titles paired with images which illustrate the intertitles. 

Title – ‘If you wish to MAKE,’ ‘to MOULD,’ ‘to FORGE,’ ‘to SHAPE,’ ‘Or DESIGN – that others may make,’ ‘Then, as a junior you must study,’ ‘PRACTICAL MATHEMATICS’ ‘GEOMETRICAL DRAWING’ ‘ENGINEERING SCIENCE’  ‘These are TECHNICAL SUBJECTS’. 

A man hammers into shape a piece of red hot steel, molten steel is poured into moulds, and a piece of red hot steel is hammered into shape by a large press at a forge.  A man works at a lathe, and another man draws at a technical drawing board.  This is followed by men working at a cutting machine and a drill, and a young man reads at a desk, 

The man and woman ponder over their pen and paper.

Title – ‘If you wish to RECORD,’ ‘to BUY,’ ‘to SELL,’ ‘to ESTIMATE,’ ‘To control production and its cost,’ ‘and finally ORGANISE,’ ‘then at the beginning your selection should be from –‘ ‘BOOK-KEEPING’ ‘COMMERCIAL MATHEMATICS,’ ‘BUSINESS METHODS’. ‘ENGLISH’ ‘TYPEWRITING’  ‘These subjects are taught in the Local District Schools.’  ‘In the Autumn join the evening classes . .  prepare for the years to be  . . In the long evenings tomorrow may be made.’

A woman looks through a filing cabinet, men negotiate across a table, and a man works through some figures, whilst other tasks are shown that involve estimating.  Some paper orders and accounts are shown.  Two men discuss a layout on a map showing the location of various industries, including a colliery and barges on a canal.  As the man and woman continue to ponder their future, a woman checks figures in a ledger.  Various work tasks are shown: stencilling, stamping, talking on the telephone, getting a file, working at a telephone switchboard, and at an adding machine.  Men speak at a committee meeting, whilst someone takes minutes.  There is a man who types on a typewriter on his lap.  A school is shown in the background.

Back in the classroom, the man and woman fill out their forms along with other potential students. 

Title – ‘For Audrey and Bryan the class fees for the session are remitted’ ‘This is because they enrolled immediately’. ‘For those who wait a year, the fees become . . 1st subject 2/5d. 2nd subject 1/6d. 3rd subject 1/0d.’  ‘They are wise to enrol immediately,’ ‘Schoolwork is remembered . . if, in two classes they obtain 80% of attendances, next year they will be awarded free studentships.’ ‘Teachers advise their choice.’  ‘For Audrey and Bryan the subjects are ‘COMMERCIAL’’. 

A teacher goes through some points to the class.  She has listed them on a blackboard.  These are illustrated with images of various kinds of commercial papers, including loans to students, a cheque, a money order.

Some college classes are shown, including, shorthand, typing and acting.  A comptometer is taught using a blackboard, and a man checks entries in a ledger.  There is a maths class, an adding machine, and a stencil printing off papers typed with, ‘The speed of modern business demands mechanical aids’.  This is followed by images of a phone, typing, stencilling, adding machine, an machine which stamps address, a switchboard, and an elderly man checking a ledger who stops to shoo off a cat.  A man erases the blackboard which he had been using to illustrate the layout of a house.

Title – ‘Jean has chosen ‘TECHNICAL’ ‘So has John’. 

John and Jean greet each other in a class, and the teacher has various geometrical and arithmetical examples on a blackboard.  Jean works at a technical drawing desk, and the two of them perform an experiment measuring pressure.  This experiment leads to some joking between them.

Title – ‘After two years of successful Junior work, students go to the College of Commerce and Technology.’ ‘To the Building School’ 

Several of the courses at the college are then illustrated: ‘Architects’, ‘Bricklayers’, ‘Joiners and Carpenters’, and ‘Plasterers’.

Title – ‘To the Trade School’ ‘Hairdressers’, ‘Taylors’, ‘Launderers’, ‘Gas Fitters’, ‘Plumbers’, ‘Heating Engineers’, ‘Sheet Metal Workers’, ‘Welders’, ‘Braziers’, ‘Cable joiners’, ‘Telegraph Messengers’, ‘Bakers’, ‘Confectioners’, ‘Flour Millers’, ‘Meat Inspectors’, ‘Meat Traders’

Again, several of the courses at this School are illustrated:  a woman checks the effects of chemicals on different fabrics, two men work on installing a water heater, in a workshop, plumbing trainees work making various kinds of piping, again in a workshop, trainees fix some piping to a central heating radiator, trainees cut and shape sheet metal.  A milling machine is shown in action, and students checking the end product.  The milled flour is put into sacks, and these are loaded onto lorries.  Trainees are shown how to inspect cattle, and later the carcass.  At an abattoir, carcasses are cut up and the various parts of the cow are shown.

Title ‘Placed conveniently are centres for Co-operative Employees’  ‘Post Office Girl Workers’, ‘Mining Students’

A register for the Brightside and Carbrook Co-op is shown.  Women sort out post.  In a classroom, a piece of coal is examined, and surveyor’s and other mining equipment is used as well.

Title – ‘Subjects taught in the Commerce Section include…’  ‘Languages’, ‘Music’, ‘Accounting’, ‘Commercial and Company Law’, ‘Costing’, ‘Business Economics’, ‘Shorthand’, ‘English’, ‘Typewriting’, ‘Secretarial Practice’, ‘Sanitary inspectors’,

The film includes images which illustrate the various subjects.  Inspectors check pipes in the snow, and then samples of milk are taken from a milk churn, bottled, and put in sealed packages.  They then visit a sewage plant and inspect water from a tap.

Title – ‘Grocers’, ‘Electrical Workers’, ‘Post Office Engineers’, ‘Mathematics’, ‘Heat Engines’, ‘Machine Drawings’, ‘Students of Metallurgy’, ‘Radio Engineers’.  ‘And for Transport Workers’: ‘Economic Geography’, ‘Office Routine’, ‘Law of Inland Carriage’, ‘Economics of Transport’.

There is a grocery store which includes McDougall’s flour, Four Crowns flour and Ovaltine among the items in its stock.  There is more footage to illustrate the subjects described by the titles.  

Title – ‘Other courses include: ‘The School and Higher School Certificates’, ‘The external degrees of London University,’ ‘In the College of Domestic Science’, ‘Cookery’, ‘Dressmaking’, ‘Tailoring’, ‘Needlework’, ‘First Aid and Home Nursing’, ‘Soft furnishing’, ‘Laundry Work’

There is an image of a university cap and gown,  In a cookery class, student make cakes.  To illustrate dressmaking, one of the students gets measured up for a dress.  Another student sews by hand while another uses a Singer sewing machine.  For First Aid, one student has a bandage put on by another.  Students re-upholster a chair and a needlework box.  Some wet laundry is put through a mangle, a student does some ironing, and another mixes something in a bowl with hot water.

Title – ‘In many of these subjects teaching certificates may be obtained’, ‘At the College of Arts and Crafts studies are directed towards an appreciation of design in daily life.’ ‘Form, Colour, Arrangement’, ‘Design suitable for purpose’, ‘These are primary considerations’, ‘To these ends early studies are directed’. 

Students are busy in a life drawing class.  In another class they practice calligraphy, while others are outside drawing a church.

Title – ‘Progress is achieved by individual creative work.’  ‘Sculpture, Pottery’. 

A student makes a scale model of a figure, another chisels letters, and others make relief sculptures.  One of the students breaks a sculpture out of a mould, others throw pots on a pottery wheel, and they also take ceramics out of a clay oven. 

Title – ‘Painting and Decorating’,

Students practice putting up wallpaper and doing fancy painting.  There is a poster which advertises ‘Yorkshire Apprentices Competition 1941’.  Another poster has, ‘Proud of our industrial strength, Sheffield 1941.’  Students also work to paint other posters.   

Title – ‘Embroidery’, ‘Cabinet making’, ‘Silversmiths’, ‘Costume and Millenary design’,

A shop window display of silks is put together.  An embroidery class makes designs and measures each other to make clothes.  There is one design which looks like flared trousers.  Several examples of clothing from the class are shown.  In a woodworking class, some cabinet doors are finished off, and other students also work to make cabinets.  Again, some examples of their work are shown.   Several silversmiths practice their art: marking, cutting, welding and polishing.  Examples are shown of their work also.  A class of young women paint designs for dresses, hats and more elaborate costumes.  Some of the students get measured up, and others model some of their clothing.

Title – ‘In this Multitude of Opportunity, progress may be tested by yearly examination’  ‘Whatever your course the final examination should certainly be taken.’  ‘Certificates, Diplomas, proof of purpose, tokens of study, vouchers of attainment’, ‘Tributes to Determination’, ‘Passports to RESPONSIBILITY’.

A further series of images are shown to illustrate the many different types of courses on offer.  The intertitles are laid over a list of courses, followed by a Certificate from the Chartered Institute of Secretaries.  Then other certificates and diplomas appear one after the other. 

Title – ‘But, in your design for living, let there be Hobbies’. 

Here, there is another series of examples of different classes:  two boys play with an electric model train set, a man develops film in a dark room, a choir sing, there is a first aid class, an art class, embroidery class, a gardening class, model aeroplanes are made and tested.

Title – ‘Health’. 

A boxing class is followed by a series of different gym activities by both boys and girls, including on the ropes, hurdling the horse and handstands.  The film then goes to a dance class where girls practice steps in a line in the style of the ‘tiller girls’.  The dance class if followed by scenes at a the Millhouses swimming pool where men and women are dive and swim.

Title – ‘Companionship’ 

A man performs a tap-dance routine in front of an appreciative audience.  This is followed by a variety of different games including:  a mixed darts match, dominoes, chess, table tennis and hoops and skittles.  Out in the countryside, people are cycling and rambling.  Back inside a swing jazz band plays while couples dance.   This footage double exposed with images of weddings.

Title – ‘And if with these ROMANCE should come your way’  ‘… you’ll need to learn…to make and BAKE…to MEND…and DECORATE’. ‘But to end you must begin’ ‘Study these booklets’. ‘There is an Evening School in your district’, ‘Go to it’.

Each of these intertitles is accompanied by appropriate illustrative images.  A number of covers of booklets are shown including those of the College of Commerce and Technology, District Evening Schools and Evening Clubs Institutes, College of Arts and Crafts, College of Domestic Science.  A young men and women make their way around a college.  The tour finishes with a cat washing itself in the doorway.

The final scene features the tinker before the closing title: ‘Tinker, tailor . . what is it to be?’