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Stroud Valleys take starring role in new collection of vintage Rural Life films

On Sunday 5 March at 3pm, a second programme of vintage films from the British Film Institute's Britain on Film on Tour comes to the Electric Picture House Cinema in Wotton-under-Edge.  Entitled Rural Life (U), it is an evocative exploration of the countryside of the UK, taking in the diverse and beautiful landscapes of all our home nations.

Britain on Film: Rural Life takes audiences down the country lanes of the past, meandering through the dwindling customs of another era. Relive the work of the local blacksmith preparing shoes for the horses that will plough the fields, and the shepherd’s trials as he protects his flock from an encroaching storm. Be swept up in the homemade entertainment and giggles of children at the country fair and the joyful freedoms of the dance in the village hall.

Touching on all the technological, industrial and social changes that affected our countryside throughout the 20th century, these films evoke and encourage not only nostalgia, but also broader and more meaningful reflections on the nature of rural life and village communities in the UK today. 

Likely to be of particular interest to local audiences is West of England. In this 1951 short, glorious Technicolor casts a dreamlike spell over Gloucestershire's Stroud valleys. Author Laurie Lee contributes to the script for a narration which accompanies painterly images of evergreen scenery, people and industry.

Tickets can be booked in advance through the cinema's website, www.wottoncinema.com.  Advance tickets can also be purchased at the cinema during opening hours, or by calling 01453 844601.

Complete list of films:

Machynlleth (In the Heart of Cambria) | Dir: unknown | UK | 1929 | 2 mins

This glorious Pathécolor film of the ancient capital of Wales pops with the beauty of rural life. The vibrancy of the hand stencilled images of this charming town’s streams, woodlands and livestock make this a genuine bucolic treat.

O’er Hill and Dale | Dir: Basil Charles Wright | UK | 1932 | 18 mins

The first sound documentary produced in the UK, this is an affectionate and at points humorous account of a Scottish shepherd's daily life in the Cheviot Hills.

Great Hucklow Jubilee | Dir: L. du Garde Peach | UK | 1935 | 9 mins

These gorgeous scenes of Great Hucklow capture the Derbyshire village's preparations for the celebration of King George V's Silver Jubilee, presenting a charming portrait of life and laughter in the Pennine village.

The ‘Dry Village’ | Dir: Unknown | UK | 1964 | 5 mins

A cautionary tale of the ‘dry village’ of Bessbrook, Co. Armagh, whose founder believed that the absence of a pub would remove the need for both the police and pawn brokers. But are the surroundings compensation enough for the lack of drink?

The Village Pet | Dir: Unknown | UK | 1931 | 1 min

After Billy the seal was caught in the Wash and rehoused in the village pond, this heart-warming newsreel item shows him tentatively accepting a fish supper from his adoptive family - the good folks of Warham in Norfolk.

West of England | Dir: Humphrey Swingler | UK | 1951 | 10 min

Glorious Technicolor casts a dreamlike spell over Gloucestershire's Stroud valleys in this gorgeous short film. Author Laurie Lee contributes to the script for a narration which accompanies painterly images of evergreen scenery, people and industry.


Cold War Villages | Dir: Unknown| UK | 1981 | 3 min

In 1981, with no end to the Cold War in sight, plans are afoot in the Midlands to prepare for nuclear attack.

Any Man’s Kingdom | Dir: Tony Thompson | UK | 1956 | 5 mins (extract)

A standout from the British Transport Films collection of travelogues –highlighting the attractions of Northumberland, the northernmost part of England. In this extract people travel from far and wide to enjoy the delights of Bellingham Fair, which includes traditional Cumberland wrestling.

The Blacksmith | Dir: Peter Baylis | UK | 1941 | 5 mins

‘Things aren't what they used to be': Mr Bosley, village blacksmith at Corfe, near Taunton, is the subject of this nostalgic study of ancient craftsmanship. As his commentary talks us through the process of shoeing a horse, the patiently composed images gracefully evoke an ageless sunlit Somerset day.

Eardisland Village | Dir: Unknown | UK | 1978 | 5 mins

The residents of Eardisland, a Herefordshire village, are unhappy about their impending conservation status which would curtail new development. How can a village continue to thrive with an ever ageing population and no new blood?

Day in the Hayfields | Dir: Cecil M. Hepworth | UK | 1904 | 3 mins

Cecil Hepworth's film captures the essence of an English midsummer and the harvest in a time before tractors with men cutting hay using a horse-powered reaper. Less productive but charming are local babies and toddlers playing.

Skating on Lough Neagh | Dir: Unknown | UK | 1963 | 2 mins

As the Big Freeze plays havoc with the working life of Northern Ireland, there is plenty of time for play. The frozen lough is a call to the adventurous and the ridiculous as dogs, dancers and even drivers take to the ice.

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