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Wellcome Film of the Month: Summer is here!

8 Jun, 2010

British summertime is here and, although the sun is being typically intermittent, for many thoughts are turning away from the office and toward more outdoor pursuits.

This featured film is taken from a 1934 compilation of amateur footage showing workers from Cooper, McDougall & Robertson leaving work and partaking in leisure activities. Manufacturers of agricultural pesticides and veterinary medicine, Coopers was a subsidiary of Wellcome Foundation Ltd, which was acquired in 1959 and then sold in 1992.

The first part of the film shows office staff leaving the business. After an inter-title (“The Office Staff Hastens Back to Work!”), we see a group of people (all male) relaxing outside with newspapers and then reluctantly heading back inside. A man is left behind and he is seen chuckling whilst reading the parish magazine – this is then inter-cut with two men pondering “who should they back?” (referring to horse racing).

A classic clocking out device is shown, followed by scenes of quintessentially English pastimes: men playing cricket before women and children onlookers, with a tea urn being delivered. Later in the film, mixed doubles tennis is played in a convivial atmosphere – lest we forget, Wimbledon is just around the corner.

The location is Berkhamsted, a leafy Hertfordshire town, just a short train journey from Euston, where the Wellcome Trust is located. The town is also, co-incidentally, the location of the National Film and Television Archive and the John Paul Getty Conservation Centre.

Brought to the attention of the Wellcome Library by the Berkhamsted Cine Society, the footage was probably intended for family, friends and staff, although the original maker(s) is unknown.

On a similar gentle summer note, the story of the Wellcome Foundation Ltd, 1955 has scenes of a Works Club summer garden party in at Dartford, the site of another factory associated with the Wellcome pharmaceutical business.

Wellcome Film

You can learn about the Wellcome Film project here. If you would like to make use of this archive footage in your own projects, please visit the Wellcome Library catalogue to download the original file, which is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales licence.

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