Title ID 1124Collection ID46
TitleThe Wheat Harvest
Date[ca. 1935]
CollectionBarnes Brothers
Genre/TypeAmateurIndependent AmateurNon-fictionActuality/Factual
ThemeRural Life
KeywordsAnimals Farming Labour Landscape Rural Areas Workers
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionA Barnes Brothers Production
CameraBill Barnes; John Barnes
DirectorBill Barnes; John Barnes
EditorJohn Barnes
Other creditsBill Barnes (Titles)
Format16mm Black & White Silent
Duration5 min.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


This amateur film with intertitles records the harvesting of wheat, tracing its journey from the field to the mill.


Two horse-drawn reapers cut down the ripened wheat in a sunlit field, leaving it for the farm workers to collect into stooks. The laborious task of loading the sheaves onto a horse-drawn cart is followed by a shots of a thrashing machine in operation. The rejected stubble is used to build huge ricks which will later serve as fodder for cattle. Finally, shots of the exterior of Littlebourne Mill and its waterwheel in action represent the stage where the grain is ground into flour.

Intertitles during the film read: "The wheat is ripe" "And ready for reaping" "Ever on the move" "The wheat is cut and stacked into sheaves" "Carting, a difficult procedure" "The thrashing process is carried out" "After thrashing the stubble is stacked into ricks for fodder for the cattle" "The grain is taken to the mill to be ground into flour" "From thence your daily bread is made"


A still from [The Wheat Harvest] (ca. 1935)A still from [The Wheat Harvest] (ca. 1935)

Contextual information

This film offers a portrait of an agricultural world not yet touched by modernity and mechanisation. This traditionally labour-intensive industry has evolved during the 20th century with the adoption of labour-saving machinery, but during the 1930s manual and horse drawn processes were largely used to gather the harvest. Seasonal workers were employed to support the permanent farmworkers and horse-powered equipment at harvest time, the busiest time of the farming year.

Working watermills and windmills, such as the one seen in this film, were once common sights in Kent. Littlebourne Watermill stands on the Little Stour River, a river which once serviced four corn mills.

Brothers John and William (Bill) Barnes, who made this film, were enthusiastic amateur film-makers during the 1930s, documenting contemporary life in Kent. This film received a special commendation by the Board of Amateur Cine World when it was released. Other Barnes Brothers films housed at Screen Archive South East include O' Famous Kent (ca. 1936) and In the Garden of England (1938?) which looks at arable farming in Kent.

Other films which document farming in the South East in the 1930s held at Screen Archive South East include In England's Garden (1930s), Our Daily Bread (mid-1930s) and [Elsted Manor Farms] (1932 - 1948).

Related titles

Related resources


Media and Film Collection

The Media and Film Collection at the Hove Museum and Art Gallery, "houses examples of optical toys dating from the 1700s, magic lantern slides, together with equipment used by the early Hove pioneers" - part of this comes from the extensive archive of the Barnes Brothers.

Brighton and Hove Media and Film Collections


Jeffries, Elizabeth. A River Runs Through, Littlebourne and the Little Stour. n.p.: Elizabeth Jeffries, 2002

Copies of this book are held at Canterbury Library.


Brook Agricultural Museum

The Agricultural Museum at Brook holds a collection of agricultural equipment from the days when horsepower ruled Kentish farms.

Kent History and Library Centre

Manuscript and printed records for the County of Kent including books, pamphlets, maps, illustrations and microfilm, reflecting Kent's local history.

Museum of English Rural Life

The Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading houses collections which include items relating to harvesting and watermills. The Museum’s database is searchable online.

Museum of Kent Life - Cobtree

"The sights, sounds and smells of country life in Kent over the last 150 years."

Rural Life Centre

The Rural Life Centre at Tilford has a collection of farm buildings and implements; subjects include hop growing, tools and crafts and a social history of village life from the 1800s covering schooling, domestic life and trades.

Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

“Agriculture and domestic life are interpreted through exhibitions and displays". The Museum has a reference library "relating to vernacular architecture, building conservation and rural crafts and skills”

White Mill Rural Heritage Centre

The White Mill Heritage Centre at Sandwich comprises a museum, and a restored smock mill and millers cottage.