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Most striking and unusual, perhaps, amongst this year’s acquisitions is a wonderful collection of material featuring the inventions of a local engineer who lived for many years in the Stamford area.  These included a boat which folded flat for ease of transport, and a shopping-centre vending machine for coal.
            He also devised and manufactured some of the earliest machinery for the pre-packing of produce.  For generations, customers had been content to buy their potatoes loose and dirty out of hessian sacks, but in the 1950s the newly emerging supermarkets were creating a demand for produce in clean and easy to handle plastic bags.  Hence the need for efficient machinery to wash and package potatoes and, in due course, a wide variety of other vegetables and salad items.  Early production lines using his machines are featured in several different films and were clearly a great success, unlike the folding boat and the coal vending machine which, despite their ingenuity, failed to catch on.
            In light of such gems as this, it is hard for the year’s other accessions not to seem pedestrian by comparison, but they are no less welcome for being a good deal more conventional.  There’s some delightful and remarkably comprehensive coverage of the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations in Grantham, a variety of events in the Stamford area including a Boxing Day Meet, the Queen’s visit, and the building of a new clubhouse by members of Langtoft Sailing Club.  There’s also a newly discovered film by Gordon Turnill, most of whose output we accessioned last year.


This season, we have two new Archive DVDs of exceptional interest to offer you, compiled and narrated as usual by Alan Stennett.
            The first, produced in co-operation with Kings Lynn historian Robert Fuller, is a major new addition to our farming series.  In fact, the farm whose history it features lies just outside the county, but it is so close by that Lincolnshire people will find the landscape and farming methods totally familiar.
            The second, long awaited but now in active preparation and due for release soon, is about Draining the Fens, a topic whose importance to the county can scarcely be exaggerated.
            Further details of the new DVDs can be found below.  Farming in Father’s Day is available now, (nicely in time to solve your Christmas present problems), and Draining the Fens will be out early in 2009.  You can check our website for news of the actual date.

Farming in Father's Day

A family farm, on the Fenland border of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, was a busy place in the 1940s and 50s. The farmer was an enthusiastic user of new machinery, including an International tractor bought in 1928 and a Cockshutt combine acquired in 1947, but he was also a great fan of heavy horses, particularly the traditional East Anglian breed, the Suffolk Punch.

Fortunately for history and for us, the farmer was also a keen cameraman, who filmed life and work on the farm. With the help of his sons, who farm on the same land today, this film shows their father’s farm at a crucial stage in its history. Gangs of men and women are seen hard at work in the fields, doing jobs that have now long since been mechanised. Horses are still plentiful, and a steam threshing set was hard at work, but Farmall tractors, IH crawlers and the combines are gradually taking over. The cropping included grains for sale and for the livestock; beet, peas and potatoes as cash crops, and fodder beet for the Lincoln Red cattle kept on the farm.

As the ‘boys’ look back at Farming in Father’s Day, we too can enjoy a unique glimpse of a style of farming that has gone for ever.

Draining the Fens

Lincolnshire is now one of the finest agricultural areas of Britain, but the 'natural' state of much of it would be a boggy wilderness of swamps and wetlands. Hundreds of years' work by an army of engineers and labourers drained the swamps and reclaimed land from the marshes and the sea.
            By the 20th century, technological progress was bringing changes such as gradual mechanisation and the opening up of challenging new possibilities; but the job of extending the system and keeping it all in proper running order was still one to which a great many people devoted their working lives.
            In this programme we look at the methods they used and the tools they worked with. It includes everything from a man with a spade digging a field drain, to major engineering works at one of the outlets to the sea. Vintage dragline excavators, tractors of many types, mole drainers and other historic tackle can all be seen at work ensuring that the county never reverts to its original condition.


Does anyone know the whereabouts of either the original or any surviving copies of the film Under Lincolnshire Skies, made by Lt Cmdr G W Wells in 1955, and shown throughout the county in the later 1950s in aid of the Lincolnshire Old Churches Trust?

One of the 'Friends' of LFA, who saw the film at the Boston Grammar School Hall in November 1957, has kindly donated an amazingly detailed 8 page programme giving full particulars of the production.  From this, it appears that the film was made on 16mm in sound and colour, and ran for about 90 minutes, including a wide range of scenes and topics from many parts of the county.

Lt Cmdr Wells is believed to have worked for, or been otherwise connected with, the Appleby Frodingham Steel Company at Scunthorpe.

Any help you can give us in tracing the film itself would be very much appreciated.  Do please email us if you know what became of the film or have any idea where it might be.

If you would like to support our work by becoming a ‘Friend of LFA’, please write, phone or email for details of membership.

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