Title ID 1610Collection ID498
TitleA Visit to Peek Frean and Co. Biscuit Works
Collection[SHC / Govier / Smith] Dennis Company
Genre/TypeProfessionalFilm/Video companyNon-fictionPromotional/Publicity
ThemeEarly film in the South East Working Life
KeywordsAnimals Buildings Children Companies Fire Services Food Industry Interiors Men Motor Vehicles Urban Areas Women Workers Youth
RegionalGreater London
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionCricks and Martin
ProducerCricks and Martin
Commissioning bodyPeek Frean and Co.
Other creditsFrank Minnis (NFTVA Preservation Officer)
FormatBlack & White Silent
Duration23 min. 55 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A Visit to Peek Frean and Co.'s Biscuit Works represents one of the earliest surviving examples of a film documenting British industry. The film records the stages involved in the semi-automated manufacture of biscuits at the Peek Frean and Co. factory (Clements Road) in Bermondsey, South London, from the delivery of raw materials to the distribution of the finished article. Each stage is introduced by an explanatory intertitle.


Male workers are hard at work in the boiler room, producing the steam which powers the whole manufacturing process. Milk and flour arrive at the factory. The bakers weigh and mix the various ingredients in large vats. The production line is busy with male workers, including young boys, but it is the machinery which rolls out the dough. A male worker is filmed cutting the dough into biscuit shapes - a young female places them on a baking tray. Elsewhere a cutting machine creates different shaped biscuits. The laden baking trays are placed into the ovens by young boys, whose work is overseen by a supervisor. Once removed from the over, dozens of young women pack the biscuits. Their work is interrupted by a fire drill, forcing them to leave the factory. The action relocates to the exterior of the factory where some of the male workers prepare appliances, including water hoses, and ascend ladders which reach the first floor windows of the factory. Hundreds of male and female workers pour out of the factory gates at lunchtime, passing below the camera for over three minutes (in a scene similar to contemporaneous films by film-makers Mitchell and Kenyon). Work begins again after the lunchbreak. Male workers wash the empty biscuit tins, whilst the women weigh, label and solder the full tins, readying them for export. Supervisors keep records of the completed tins as they are packed into crates and loaded onto a conveyor belt. Horses, carts and vans assemble outside. The film ends with images of a convoy of over twenty-five horses and carts, and vans transporting the 'Pat-a-Cake' biscuits away from the factory.