From The Orchard To the Home

1930, Histon (Cambridgeshire)

Fruit farming, jam making and canning at Chivers Company.

Part One. An exterior shot of the Chivers Factory and then the orchards in spring with the trees covered in blossom. The beehives in the orchards and the other animals that are kept in the orchard or around the farm. The incubator machine shows how eggs are incubated and there are shots of the chicks in pens and of the chickens in the coup and in the orchard where they are fed. A sow and piglets feature. One of the piglets is held up to the camera by a stockman. The pigs are seen in the orchard, followed by shots of Chivers' prize winning middle white boar and prize-winning large white sow. There is a shot of sheep and lambs and then of dairy shorthorn cattle and calves. Finally Percheron horses are filmed with their foals. Part Two. A shot of 'Cense', Champion Senior Stallion Royal Agricultural Show of England Show, 1930. Percherons cultivate the raspberries, pulling ploughs between the canes. In the strawberry fields they plough between the rows of plants. There are long shots and close-up shots of an army of women picking strawberries and raspberries by hand. They wear protective headgear. The fruit is weighed and then taken by horse drawn cart to the Orchard Factory. At the factory the fruit is unloaded. This scene shows that Chivers were still using a mixture of lorries and horse-drawn carts for transport. Inside the factory it is sorted by women in overalls and mobcaps. Interior scenes from the Orchard factory. At the boiling pans, sugar is weighed in automatically. The fruit added and the jam stirred. There are sugar thermometers in the side of the pans. The jam is checked to see if it has reached setting point. Outside the factory, glass jars are unloaded, placed on a conveyor belt in wire baskets and put through the washer. Inside the factory, they are turned out and checked. The jars are being filled by machine. They are placed onto trays and a circle of greaseproof paper is placed over the top before the lids are put on. A long shot of the factory shows women on stools at the conveyor belt. The jars go into the steriliser and then the vacuum chamber. Jars are selected and weighed. This is recorded. Part Three. Shots of the jars being taken into the coolers. There are interior shots of the coolers showing women putting the jars away. A long sequence shows the store room. Trolleys on rails are guided into the store room by groups of women. The jars are unloaded and stacked. There is a shot of the labelling and packing department showing people at work. A woman operates the labelling machine. The jars are inspected and wiped clean by hand. The metal lid is tied down for extra security. A woman at a bench worked the coding machine. The jars are wrapped by hand and the tops secured. Finally the jars are placed into boxes. The last sequence was shot at the Huntingdon factory and shows tin cans being manufactured. Sheets of tin plate are put through the lacquering machine and then cut into strips by machine. Part Four. This part concludes the section showing the process of making cans. A black cat is painted onto a sheet to tin so that the viewer can follow its progress through the manufacturing process. The sheets of tin are made into a can shape and then the join is soldered. The work is inspected before the bottoms of the can are fixed. The tins are filled with fruit by girls at conveyor belts and the syrup is added automatically. The tins are sealed, cooked and finally labelled and packed. The labelling process is automatic and there are close up shots of the process. The second sequence shows the manufacture of Chivers' Table Jellies. The fruit is placed in muslin bags that are in turn placed between wicker dividers in the pressing machine. The fruit is pressed and the juice runs into a vat. It is added to the jelly by hand. The jelly is strained through a muslin cloth, cooled and allowed to set. It is taken to the cubing machine. There are shots of slabs of jelly. In the packing department, the jellies are wrapped and boxed by hand before being taken away on a Lister Auto Truck. Part Five. The canning of vegetables in the plant at Huntingdon. The peas are picked by hand, mainly by women. There is a close-up shot of one of the women. Shots of the exterior of the factory and of the peas arriving. They are loaded onto a conveyor belt that takes them into the factory. The drum-like machine that shells the peas. The peas are washed in another drum. The peas pass through the grading machine and then through the blancher to a machine where they are washed again. We see the factory floor and then a shot of the filling machines. The cans are placed into large metal crate and then lowered into pressure ovens. They are removed and placed into the cooling tanks. When removed from the cooling tank, the cans are boxed. The sequence ends with stills tins showing the varieties of vegetables available. Part Six. The laboratory and test facilities at the company and the recreational facilities for the workers. The opening shots are taken in the laboratory and show scientists and laboratory assistant, including many women, carrying out tests and experiments. In the Chivers' kitchen, a female worker is testing jelly products. One has failed to set properly. To support their assertion that their products are sent around the world, the film shows the labelled boxes, ready for their destinations. These include destinations in Europe, (Brussels, The Hague, Antwerp) North America (Montreal, New York) and South America. (Panama) The products are sent to destinations in the Middle East; (Jerusalem, Alexandria) The Indian sub-continent; (Colombo) Africa; (Mombasa) and the Fear East (Takoradi, Hong Kong.) Trains are loaded at a separate station adjacent to the railway line, and lorries leave the factory. Workers' welfare facilities include a surgery and rest room, where a nurse attends to a patient. There is a non-profit making luncheon room, and educational classes are held at Impington Hall, which is shown. In the recreation ground the film shows games of tennis, cricket, bowls and putting as well as a children's playground. The barn where Chivers' began their business is shown and there are aerial views of the factory, farms and adjoining countryside. The caption highlights the number of employees and the company's Royal connections. A shot of the Royal Crest. A shot of a shop window filled with Chivers' goods.

Featured Buildings

Chivers Orchard Factory, Histon; Chivers Vegetable Processing Factory, Huntingdon; Impington Hall


Agriculture; Canning; Chivers and Company; Food processing; Fruit farming; Jam; Women workers


In the early days of the 19th century the Chivers family settled as farmers and fruit growers in Histon, quite near to where the first orchard was planted in England. It was the year 1873 that marked the beginning of their present business. This picture shows something of the wonderful development that has taken place since those early days - and is an endeavour to illustrate the unique relationship that exists in this great business between the rearing of livestock, general farming, fruit culture, and the manufacture of jams, jellies, and other food products.Here in the English countryside the jam is made.Springtime in the orchards.Thousands of tons of fruit are taken each year from the Orchards to the Chivers factory.Bees are necessary in fertilising the fruit blossom. They also supply honey for use in the orchard factory.Utility poultry are bred on an extensive scale to provide eggs required in the orchard factory for lemon curd and mayonnaise.16,000 eggs can be incubated at a time in this huge machine.The birds have free range in the Orchard - they destroy insects and fertilise the soil.Utility poultry from Messrs Chivers farms have won numerous awards at the National, Harper Adams, Lancashire and other leading egg laying trials.Over 2,000 pedigree pigs are bred annually. The breeding stock has the free run of grass orchards throughout the year.The pigs not only fertilise the soil but feed largely on fallen fruits and on certain waste products from the factory.At the Royal Agricultural Show of England Show, 1930, large and middle white pigs from Messrs. Chivers farms secured the following:2 Championships 3 Reserve Championships 9 First Prizes 1 Second Prize 1 Third Prize.During 1930 Messrs Chivers exhibits of large and middle white pigs secured the following awards at the leading county shows -6 Championships 11 First Prizes 6 Second Prizes 1 Third Prize The next picture shows the middle white boar which was ...Reserve Champion, Royal Agricultural Show Manchester, 1930; 1st Champion, Northamptonshire Show 1930, 1st Champion, Tring Show, 1930.Here is the large white sow which was awarded 1st Prize, silver medal 1st Prize and medal, Cambridgeshire Show; 1st Northamptonshire Show; 1st and Championship, Tring Show, 1930.Sheep and pedigree cows also play an important part in the general farming scheme.From The Orchard To The Home.These are pedigree dairy shorthorns. Prizes won include:- 100 Guinea Challenge Cup for best group at Royal Agricultural Show of England Show.Desborough Cup and 1st milking trails at the London Dairy Show.The milk is used in the factory and sold from the model dairy.Pedigree Percheron Horses are used on all Messrs Chivers farms.At the Royal Agricultural Show of England Show, 1930, Messrs Chivers exhibit of Percheron Horses secured the following awards -4 Championships 3 Reserve Championships 9 First Prizes 1 second Prize 1 Third prize End of Part One. Part Two. Many championships have been won by these animals. Here is 'Cense,' 1st prize and champion senior stallion Royal Agricultural Show of England Show, 1930.Cultivating raspberries - the Percheron horses at work.This picture gives you an idea of the vast area under strawberry cultivation.Then when summer comes.Raspberries must be picked carefully without damaging the fruit.Strawberry picking.Many tons of straw are spread under the strawberry plants in early summer to keep the fruit clean.The fruit is weighed.- and dispatched without delay to the orchard factory.On arrival at the Orchard factory the fruit is quickly unloaded.Then taken to the sorting rooms.Damaged and over ripe fruit is rejected. When the fruit has been finally selected it is used either in jam making, fruit canning or pressed to provide fruit juices for Chivers Table Jellies. A corner in one of the jam boiling rooms. All the boiling pans are lined with silver. The sugar is weighed automatically.Train loads of glass jar are used.The jars are carefully examined when unloaded, then placed upside down on the conveyor to be washed.The jars are now perfectly clean and ready for filling.The jam has passed through silver lined pipes to the filling machines.Now through the steriliser.Then into the vacuum chamber. Constant tests are made to ensure that the jars contain full weight. End of Part Two. Part Three.The jam is now taken to the coolers.Then conveyed to the huge storerooms.Jam being taken to the labelling and packing department.The jam is now in jars but it must be made ready for distribution. It is carefully inspected.The metal cover is made double secure.The coding machine ensures that every individual jar can be traced throughout its career.Then the jars are labelled and wrapped.From The Orchard To The Home. And now when you use Chivers Jams you know they have been made under ideal conditions, in the actual fruit season. Chivers Canned Fruits. The firm make their own cans. Hundreds of tons of British tin plate are used annually.To preserve the quality of the fruit, every sheet of tin plate undergoes a special lacquering process in this machine. The tin late is now cut into strips. End of Part Three. Part Four.The square sheets go into the machine and come out a complete container.We will show you in detail how this is done. Just for luck we will paint a black cat on a piece of tin. We see the flat pieces of tin placed in the machine.Great claws round the tin into shape.Then we come to the soldering bath and the join I made fast.The work is inspected. Our piece of tin begins to look like a can.Then we come to a machine which fixes the bottom to each can.Now you see out piece of tin turned into a complete can ready for the fruit. Filling the fruit into the can.This machine adds the syrup.The tins are then mechanically sealed without the aid of solder--and conveyed to the cookers.Canned fruit labelling and packing department. Now we come to the machine which puts on the labels. And finally the completed can is passed to the girls who pack them.Chivers' Table Jellies. Chivers' Jellies are flavoured with the juices of fresh ripe fruit. Here we see the fruit being pressed.Adding fruit juice to the jelly. The jelly is now strained through fine muslin cloth.The jelly is then cooled and cut into slabs after which it is taken to the cubing machine.Jelly wrapping and packing department. End of Part Four. Part Five. Vegetable Canning.Chivers' Fresh Garden Peas. Hundreds of acres of fresh peas are specially grown for Chivers' HRH The Prince of Wales; HM The Queen of Norway. The End.

Background Information

Chivers employees spent a pleasant and instructive time at the Central Cinema when they watched the new film ‘From Orchard to Home’. It covered the processes in making jam from picking the fruit to labelling the jars and showed the facilities afforded the employees in their leisure hours.At the conclusion a good deal of merriment was caused by the showing of a similar film taken 25 years ago; it was interesting to compare the difference between the work then and now. 23 December 1930 Most of this film was made in 1930 but the sequence showing the harvesting process and canning of peas may have been made at another date. The film quality and titling are different. The Chivers family of Histon were originally fruit farmers in the middle of the nineteenth century. They sent some of their produce to jam producers and in 1873 they began making jam themselves in an old barn at Impington. They purchased more orchards, built a factory and by 1885 they were employing 150 people. In 1888 Chivers introduced table jellies. In the years that followed they introduced Marmalade, custard powder, lemonade, Christmas puddings and other products. In 1908, the company had an advertising film made by the London Bioscope Company. This film does not appear to have survived. The canned vegetable factory was built at Huntingdon. During World War II they supplied 40,000 tins of food to the allied armies.During the 1930s, 3500 people were employed by Chivers. In 1891, the company began an early profit sharing scheme. A pension scheme was introduced in 1895 and educational facilities were provided at Impington Hall. Two nitrate copies of this film were found in the essence store at the factory. One had decomposed completely. The other was intact. No other copies of the film are known and the negative does not appear to exist. A 16mm copy made in 1932 has survived but is not in good condition. The East Anglian Film Archive made a new 35mm negative and print as well as 16mm viewing prints available in the Archive.

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