Title ID 1153Collection ID64
Genre/TypeAmateurIndependent AmateurNon-fictionActuality/Factual
ThemeWartime and Military
KeywordsIndustry Second World War (1939-1945) Wars
LocalSevenoaks Watford
RegionalKent Hertfordshire
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionGeorge P. King
CameraGeorge P. King
ProducerGeorge P. King
ParticipantsSevenoaks Brick Works; Watford Engineering Works
FormatBlack & White Silent
Duration10 min.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


Made prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, this film illustrates how factories were reutilized for the production of materials required by the military.


The first part of the film focuses on the dismantling of the iron chimney at the Sevenoaks brick works. A man surveys the site then returns to his office to make a telephone call. Views around the site show piles of bricks, gas cylinders and a pickup truck waiting to take the scrap metal. A man cuts a line through the iron chimney using a blowtorch. The chimney collapses and is shown laying across the ground with several men sitting on it. The next part of the film takes place in the Watford Engineering Works and shows how the scrap metal is put to use to make arms. There are general views of the exterior and interior of the works. Inside a man shovels fuel into a furnace while others prepare scraps of metal for melting down. The molten metal is poured into moulds then shaped on precision machinery. Intertitles proclaiming “We Want Guns!” and “We Want Arms!” accompany the shots of the metal being shaped and turned on the machinery. A close-up of a shell follows the declaration “We Want Shells!”. Inside the factory man continues welding. The final part of the film bears the title “Peace” and shows several friends of the film-maker enjoying a walk. The question “Peace or ?” followed by newspaper headlines referring to bombings in Shanghai and a quote by Mussolini is an indication of the impending threat of war. A fluttering Union flag is the film’s final image.


A still from 'Rearmaments' (1937) - machinery

Contextual information

Rearmament in Britain began as early as the mid 1930s, so it is likely that the production date of this film concurs with its stock date (1937). The intertitles in the film reveal an uncertainty of the future - whether it would bring peace or war - an uncertainty reflected by the rearmament programme at the time. Although war was not inevitable at the time, it was probable, making this ‘show of strength’ by governments necessary. The film is also a fairly early example of Standard 8 film stock (first available in 1932).

Screen Archive South East houses several films which record the work being done in local communities during the Second World War. These include Walton's Parade for Victory (1941) which features a parade marking the opening of Walton and Weybridge's War Weapons Week and Leatherhead Newsreel (1940 - 1945) which contains images of fundraising activities and civil defence duties.

Screen Archive South East also holds films which show factory work across the years. These include A Visit to Peak Frean and Co. Biscuit Factory (1906) and [Ashford Railway Works: Local Traditions and Farming] (ca. 1947), as well as A Family Tradition (1954) made to show the processes involved in making Shippam's food paste.

Related titles

Related resources


Price, Christopher. Britain, America and Rearmament. Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2001

A copy of this book is available at the British Library.

Wilt, Alan F. Food for War: Agriculture and Rearmament in Britain in the Second World War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001

The relationship between food, agriculture, and Britain's preparations for war are analysed in this book.


Imperial War Museum

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the collections of the Imperial War Museum include Film and Video, Photographs, Sound, Art, Documents and Printed Books. Amateur film is well represented in the Film and Video Archive. The collections’ database is searchable online.

The National Archives

The National Archives houses a large collection of official documentation pertaining to the Second World War rearmament of Britain. The collections are searchable online via the website.