1938, The Last Year of Peace.

1948, Staffordshire & Switzerland (Other)

A film evoking memories of life before the outbreak of World War 2.

'1938 The Last Year of Peace' was intended to be a nostalgic reminder of life before the start of the Second World War. Compiled in the main from fragments of film shot prior to the outbreak of war, and arranged into seasons by the film’s producers with additional material shot on two reels, one black and white and one colour, which they were able to obtain during the war. The film begins with a sequence of shots of winter, including: the countryside with snow lying on the ground; Stuart Day looking out of a window at the wintry conditions; Stuart Day clearing heavy snowfall from his driveway until he freely becomes embroiled in a snowball fight with some boys. The sequence concludes with a shot of a young girl sitting on a window sill indoors, watching the frivolity. She closes the window, and a woman, after reprimanding her, takes her temperature and administers a dose of medicine. Spring follows. The sequence includes shots of: rain falling on cobbles; a wet garden, Stuart Day planting seeds in trays in a greenhouse; wind blowing branches in trees and turning a weather vane; laundry drying on a line; trees blossom and spring flowers bloom; sheep and lambs feed and play in a field; a puppy wanders around Stuart Day’s feet; a man and a woman manoeuvre a large, heavy carpet outside to clean it by hanging it over a line and beating it before using a vacuum cleaner; Stuart Day resets his seedlings and the man caries them outdoors in trays. The sequence concludes with a shot of Laurie Day carrying pictures in frames outdoors to spring clean. She is distracted by one which evokes memories of youth. A young couple walk in a wood holding hands, a boy and girl meet and hold hands. There are shots of a pageant and fair, with girls dancing around a maypole, fairground rides, and a fortune teller. The sequence evoking memories of summer includes shots of: people at a swimming pool; a tennis match; hay loaded on a cart; the Days' puppy playing with agricultural workers and their sheep dog; Stuart Day adding plants to a border in his garden; the garden in bloom; Stuart Day picking raspberries. It concludes with a short sequence of shots from a Swiss holiday. The holiday sequence includes a shot of Lucerne and a boat trip on the lake. Stuart Day disembarks from the boat. There are shots of: Stuart Day taking a photograph; a man asleep; cyclists; Stuart Day walking along a road and stopping to view the lake and surrounding mountains; Flüelen; Stuart Day boarding the boat; the lakeside from the boat. The autumn sequence begins with shots of Laurie and Stuart Day’s garden as leaves begin to fall. It also includes shots of crops being harvested; Stuart Day picking apples; children collecting nuts and berries in woods. The film concludes with shots taken at Christmas and New Year. It begins with Stuart Day, dressed as Santa, distributing presents to children. The year draws to its end and the film finishes with Stuart Day looking over a gate at open country. The sunset is followed by a red sky at dawn.

Featured Buildings

Opengates, Parkway, Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent St Leodegar im Hof [Hofkirche St. Leodegar, Church of St. Leodegar], Lucerne Alte Kirche [Old Church], Flüelen Pfarrkirche Herz Jesu, Flüelen


Family life; World War 2


In these times of strain it is pleasant to recall the Happy-Go-Lucky days we took so much for granted before the war. This is a chronicle of the everyday happenings of 1938 – the last year of peace. But Spring has its trials as well as its triumphs. A small gentleman inspects the first hay harvest. Summer brings holidays and blue days on Lake Lucerne. At home the trees are taking on their tawny autumn glory. Harvesting is in full swing. “Now the year is over, Night is drawing nigh, Shadows of the future, Steal across the sky.” And so died 1938. Was there a warning in the dawn of 1939? I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year. "Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown”.

Other Places

Opengates, Parkway, Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent; Lucerne; Flüelen

Background Information

The film was completed in 1947. The archive also holds a short introduction to the making of the film recorded by Laurie Day in 1970, and a music sound track which is the same running time as the film. This has not been synchronised with the film for viewing as the music may be in copyright.

Copyright restrictions apply.

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