This film is part of Free

A Ride with Uncle Joe

Cockney kids learn road sense the fun way in an entertaining and surprising wartime safety film.

Documentary 1943 11 mins


A friendly truck-driver teaches kerb drill to the local kids in this enjoyable road safety film, set in the outskirts of London in 1943. Apart from the occasional glimpse of a uniformed serviceman, there's little evidence of the war, but there's plenty of period detail - including tin toy cars, no seatbelts, and children playing marbles in the street - to place the film firmly in a bygone age.

In marked contrast to public information films targeted at children in later decades - when no stranger, however familiar or friendly, was to be trusted - 'Uncle Joe' is portrayed as a benevolent figure. With many fathers and older brothers away on active service and mothers engaged in essential war work, it would have been entirely acceptable, even actively encouraged for a man known to the local community to take an interest in the safety of neighbourhood children. Chirpy truck-driver Joe is played by Fred Griffiths, a firefighter during WWII who was also a qualified London cabbie. This is likely to be one of his earliest appearances on film: he became a professional actor by chance after he appeared in Humphrey Jennings's acclaimed Fires Were Started (1943, also on BFI Player). This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.