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Alfred Butterworth & Sons, Glebe Mills, Hollinwood (1901)

A typical ‘factory gate’ scene, the film shows workers and children outside a factory. The smaller children are taking their fathers or mothers’ lunches to work, as the minimum age of child workers at the time was 11.

Classroom Activities

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  • How many types of people are there?

  • What age do you think the people in this film are? What’s the youngest and oldest?

  • What does the film tell us about these people?

  • How does the soundtrack make you feel about the film? Does it make it more familiar?

  • Why do you think this film was made?

  • Who do you think might watch the film?

  • Which social classes are represented in the films? How are they depicted? Are these films constructed or simply a record of what is happening?


  • Cover the screen and ask pupils to listen to the soundtrack (before showing the film for the first time). How would you describe this music? What images does it conjure up? Perhaps asks the class to make a list of the kind of images they might expect to see.

  • Screen the film with sound and vision and compare what the class expected to see and what is actually in the film. Discuss if the music and image match up.

  • Pause the film at 00:26 when the girl in white with the basket is walking towards the camera. Who do the class think she is?

  • Discuss the relationship between the camera and the people in the film. Why does the camera never move?

  • This film is in black and white. Discuss what colours we might see if this film were filmed today.

  • Discuss whether this film (along with others in the Mitchell & Kenyon collection) is constructed or simply a record of what is happening.


  • Discuss the time setting of the film. What decade is the film set in? How do you know?

  • What kind of factory or workplace do you think Alfred Butterworth & Sons was? Are there any clues given by the people in the film?

  • Ask the class to look at the portrayals of men, women and children in the film. Were there stereotypical gender roles and if so, why?

  • Who were Mitchell & Kenyon? Set your class a project to research who they were and what they did. Write a short article about them and their filmmaking practices.

  • Get the class to research definitions of ‘documentary’ film. Create a class list of definitions to compare ideas.

  • Does this film fit the definition of ‘documentary’?

  • Show the film alongside some of the other Mitchell & Kenyon films. What collective picture of the early 1900s do the films present?

  • Discuss: Why were these films made? Were the film-makers trying to tell a story? Were they taking moving photographs to capture a moment of time? How do these films help us to answer these questions?

  • Discuss how film can be a primary source of evidence for 20th century history. Look carefully at the footage. What does it tell us about life in these times?


  • Playscript: write a series of stage directions to create a silent play for performance (where no-one is allowed to speak).

  • Write a dialogue script for the film, choosing some of the characters to speak. Get the class to take on roles and perform their script. Record it and add to a downloaded version of the film in iMovie or Windows MovieMaker to create a sound version of the film.

  • Write a diary entry for a child worker recounting his or her day in the factory in the 1900s.

  • Script or storyboard some new sequences for the film showing some of the characters at work in the factory.

  • Examine the fashion of the early 1900s. Using images from the internet, create a 1901 ‘fashion magazine’.

  • Pick one of the people in the film, and imagine you are that person. Write a paragraph about the day the film crew arrived to film you and your friends.

  • Use the internet to find out more about early archive films.

  • Download all the Mitchell & Kenyon films and then, using Movie Maker or iMovie, edit the films using transitions and sound to create a narrative.

  • Improvise a running commentary as a voice-over or a dialogue to add to the soundtrack.

  • Create a new music soundtrack for the film.

  • Choose footage from all the Mitchell & Kenyon films and edit them to advertise a modern product.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-083-C
Resource Rights Holder BFI
Project Ref RLS-08
Year of Production 1901
Genre Historical Archive Footage
Curriculum Areas subjects
Who Mitchell & Kenyon (Filmmakers)
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content Live Action, Non-Fiction, Black & White, Silent
Themes Technology, Class, History, Gender, Society, Culture
Clip Length 02:00