Years of Achievement

1961, Ipswich (Suffolk)

Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies of Ipswich.

The opening of the film establishes Ransomes as part of the Ipswich scene. Over pictures of the area that include a train arriving at Ipswich Station, an aeroplane landing at Ipswich airport and scenes of the port, the town centre and the surrounding countryside, the commentary explains how Ransomes business of producing agricultural machinery is linked with the local economy. Ipswich is described as the industrial heart of East Anglia. A town of over 100,000 people with a port capable of handling loads of 10,000 lbws. There are views of the town that emphasise its affluent past, including shots of the Ancient House and Christchurch Mansion. An aerial shot of the Nacton works shows Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies. The background of the company is established. The commentary explains that it employs 3,500 people. Interior shots of the factory, including the assembly line, the machine shops, the assembly shop and the press shop. The history of the company, from its foundation in 1789, is told over a series of stills. These include engravings of the St. Margaret's works, the Orwell works (for the building of this a house was moved 70 feet) and of the patents for Ransomes early developments. Other engravings include steam powered machinery from 1832, including threshing machines. Ransomes' gold medal from the Royal Agricultural Society is covered along with further machine development. Stills show Ransome's steam tractors and threshing machines at work in the fields. In 1902 Ransomes' patented the first petrol engined lawn mower and the film shows the importance of lawn mowers to Ransomes' business. By 1939, the Orwell works covered 40 acres.The film returns to the modern Nacton works and shows many processes of modern production. There is a close-up shot of metal pouring and the degree of automation is shown as is core assembly, ladle movement by overhead runway, annealing ovens and laboratory checks. In the forge there are close-up shots of drop forging. other sequences show shaping by bulldozers and presses, flame cutting and welding. The planning stages of production are explained, from the drawing office to the pattern makers and the data processing department. the work here includes typing inputting and filing and most of the workers are women. In the plough works automatic cutting and grinding machines feature. The variety of machines made in the factory is highlighted with an explanatory commentary. In the paint shop lawn mower parts are sprayed before stoving. Other processes shown here include wood turning for making handles and cutting gears. High frequency induction heating methods are shown. This appears to be the one area where women are working on the factory floor.The final inspection and testing are shown including stills of the machines in use in the fields. In the photographic department a tractor is seen reversing into a studio for a high angle shot to be used in a promotional leaflet. These are printed in the printing centre, along with most of Ransomes' catalogues, leaflets and stationery. The apprenticeship scheme is explained and apprentices are seen at work in the factory, at the technical college and on visits to other factories. The social amenities are covered at some length. These include parties at Christmas for children and pensioners, summer fetes, featuring a semi-comic display by the works fire brigade. The firm's social and sporting clubs include football, hockey and cricket teams, tennis and bowls clubs. Ransomes' presence at high profile events is documented. At the Royal Agricultural Show the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh wave from an open land rover. The Queen Mother follows in a limousine. Ransomes' stall is featured as is at the Smithfield Show at Earls Court, the Hurlingham Groundsman's show and the Chelsea Flower Show. The film finishes by showing Ransomes machines at work all over the world. The are landscape scenes from North America, the Far East and the Andes. Machines are shown at work in the Caribbean, Africa, India and Spain. Ransomes' lawn mowers are shown at work in locations as diverse as the Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna and the Real Madrid football ground.

Featured Buildings

Ancient House; Christchurch Mansion; Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies Orwell Works; Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies Nacton Works; Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Featured Events

The Royal Show, 1960; The Smithfield Show, Earls Court; The Hurlingham Groundsman's Show; The Chelsea Flower Show.


Agricultural machinery; Factories; Industry

Other Places

London; Other world locations

Background Information

The film includes some interesting details about changing industrial production and labour history. Compared with the Ransomes' film 'Speed The Plough' made 11 years earlier, the change to production line methods is noticeable. The stereotyping of men's and women's jobs is clear. In the machine shops it is possible to notice one or two black workers.

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