An English Fen

1947 , The Fens (Other)

Life and livelihoods on the fens.

This film sets the scene with shots of Ely Cathedral and the nearby river. There are general fen scenes in which farm workers take a horse drawn plough along a metalled road and then on to a field. This road is possibly the part of the A142, known as the 'Mepal Straight.' Sugar beet are piled alongside the road until they are taken away by horse and cart. Potatoes are riddled and placed into sacks in the field. A Fenman, accompanied by his dog, a black retriever, goes out shooting. The film shows a fen cottage, quite ramshackle at first appearance. There are beehives outside and a pig in a sty. Vegetables grow in the garden. In a willow plantation two eel fishers, J.A. (Alf) Wilson and John Waters of Mepal, cut willow for making eel traps. The dog watches. Alf Wilson makes the basketwork eel traps. He pares the willow with a jack knife until smooth and then strips it into four for weaving. He continues to weave a half finished trap. Inside a shed, the other eel catcher works on the nets, using wooden and brass needles of his own making. The film shows a wood turner working on a lathe in a shed. The wood turner makes a bowl. The eel catchers begin their task. They submerge the traps in water. They have to be waterlogged to allow them to sink. They retrieve some that were sank earlier. The traps are baited and then laid along the river, each marked by a marker stick. The nets are laid by settling a stake in the river bank and then pulling the net across the river. Then the trap is pulled out. The traps are collected and emptied. The eels are stored in underwater chests until they are required for market. The eel fishermen's cats have now replaced his dog. A small black cat and a larger black and white cat watch him all of the way, occasionally attempting to pounce on the eels. The buyers arrive with scales and boxes. The eels are brought form the wooden chests and weighted. They are transferred to the boxes in which they travel and placed on a trailer, towed by a car. The trailer leaves. The film ends with shots of the sun on the water.

Featured Buildings

Ely Cathedral

Featured Events

An English Fen.

Keywords

Craftsmen; Fishermen

Other Places

Ely; Fenland; Mepal

Background Information

This film opens with the line, "In the heart of Lincolnshire, on a little hill, rises the tall and graceful edifice - Ely Cathedral". Ely was not then, nor is it now in Lincolnshire. J.A. (Alf) Wilson was also a bee-keeper, market gardener, carpenter and all round countryman. He was one of the last punt gunners on the Bedford Level washes. During the 1930s he lived off the land, poaching, snaring and netting all kinds of birds, including blackbirds, larks, plovers, and game birds. He died in 1987 aged 81. The Church at Mepal was full for his funeral. The buyer of eels was Mr H.P. Brammer who was based at Brandon Creek, and carried eels to his brother's business at Billingsgate, London. The editor/director works under a nomme de plume. His real name was W.R. Hutchinson.

  • Sound : Leevers Rich

  • Music : De Wolfe

  • Editor : Ronald Haines

  • Other : Assistant Editor - Dorothy Stimson

  • Commentator : Frank Philips

  • Director : Ronald Haines

  • Maker : British Foundation Pictures

Manifestations

An English Fen

  • Barcode
    INV391654
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    MP4 H264 digital
    Dimension
    Duration
    0:17:20
    Modification Date
    25/11/2011
    Parts
    Reference
    734364
  • Barcode
    INV338840
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    MP4 H264 digital
    Dimension
    Duration
    0:17:20
    Modification Date
    31/08/2011
    Parts
    Reference
    725039
  • Barcode
    INV377963
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    MP4 H264 digital
    Dimension
    Duration
    0:17:20
    Modification Date
    31/08/2011
    Parts
    Reference
    724252
  • Activities
    Barcode
    INV361039
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    DV digital
    Dimension
    Duration
    0:17:20
    Modification Date
    10/05/2011
    Parts
    Reference
    708993
  • Barcode
    INV243040
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    master digital
    Colour Type
    bw
    Dimension
    Duration
    0:17:35
    Has Sound
    Y
    Modification Date
    15/09/2008
    Parts
    Reference
    676590
    Sound
    sound
  • Activities
    Barcode
    INV150802
    Canonical Identifier
    TB 928
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    Umatic tape
    Dimension
    Identifier
    Modification Date
    28/07/2008
    Parts
    Reference
    674121
  • Barcode
    INV??1885
    Canonical Identifier
    VP-1212
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Identifier
    Modification Date
    25/06/2021
    Parts
    Reference
    563060
  • Barcode
    INV??1884
    Canonical Identifier
    VP-1131
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Identifier
    Modification Date
    25/06/2021
    Parts
    Reference
    563059
  • Barcode
    INV??1491
    Canonical Identifier
    B-520
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    16mm film
    Colour Type
    bw
    Has Sound
    Y
    Identification Notes
    Picture: combined optical (data migration 25/06/2021)
    Identifier
    Image Polarity
    positive
    Modification Date
    25/06/2021
    Parts
    Reference
    562359
    Sound
    sound
  • Activities
    Barcode
    INV??1490
    Canonical Identifier
    B-6
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    16mm film
    Colour Type
    bw
    Identification Notes
    Neg / Pos Type (data migration 25/06/2021): dupe
    Identifier
    Image Polarity
    negative
    Modification Date
    25/06/2021
    Parts
    Reference
    562358
  • Activities
    Barcode
    INV215580
    Canonical Identifier
    A-10
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    35mm film
    Identifier
    Image Polarity
    positive
    Modification Date
    25/06/2021
    Parts
    Reference
    561030

Copyright restrictions apply.

Please see our terms of use. Films on this website are provided for personal viewing. Should you wish to use the films in any other way please contact eafa@uea.ac.uk

terms of use

The data for this page was generated on Sat, 27 Nov 2021 05:50:36 +0000. Click to regenerate this page .