Theme Working Life

The archive holds an fascinating selection of film material produced or commissioned by local firms and organisations in the region, and other films that picture aspects of working life in the South East. Amongst the corporate material held in the archive, the largest collections are films made by Dennis, manufacturers of fire engines and other heavy vehicles in Guildford, and Shippam, a firm producing meat and fish paste in Chichester who commissioned advertisements for the company and its products from 1933 to 1960. Work on the railways is a strong feature in the archive and one of the largest collections in the archive from a single organisation is a relatively recent acquisition from the Bluebell Railway line.

The archive holds films commissioned by civic and public bodies in the region which illustrate some of the public sector work in hospitals, schools, the police force, fire brigade and local government organisations. Significant collections of films in the archive made for public services and institutions include; the Surrey Fire Brigade, West Sussex County Council, as well as several hospitals, children’s homes, charities, lifeboats and other organisations in the region.

Labour within the rural landscape of the region is captured in some of the most evocative film material in the archive. These illustrate rural farm work such as hop farming in Kent, wheat harvesting in the Sussex downs and cattle sales in the region's market towns. The transition to mechanised farming machinery is clearly tracked through many of the archive's films which record the changes taking place in farming in pre and post-Second World War eras. The decline in fishing from the region's coast is also witnessed in films of fishermen in Hastings and in Brighton.

Small-scale, family run businesses and and rural trades are also caught on film and saved as a unique record of some of the region's dying trades and skills. Film of trades such as brick making, blacksmithing, charcoal making, dry stone walling, carpentry and book binding are scattered throughout the archive's collections. Town businesses and people at work in the service sector are also to be found in the collections including dustmen, postal workers, hairdressers and cobblers.