The Yorkshire Film Archive collects, preserves, and shows film made in, or about Yorkshire. Our collections are non-fiction, dating from the 1890s to the present day, and providing a rich and visually compelling record of all aspects of lives, cultures, landscape, industries, major events and everyday activities, many of which are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.
This film is part of Free
Collecting Books for the Forces
Lines of children laden with books deliver them to bespectacled gentlemen granted the right to select those to be sent to forces abroad, and those to be pulped for recycling.
From the collection of:
Like a scene from the film Fahrenheit 451, school children carrying bundles of books march in single file through the streets of Beverley to deliver their offerings to two men, who swiftly choose which books should go to forces abroad and which to be ripped apart and put in a bailer. This 1944 paper salvage drive presents a chilling foretaste of what is happening now in libraries across the country.
This is one of many films of wartime events in Beverley made by local filmmakers Debenhams. The book recovery and salvage drive was part of a national campaign in 1944. This garnered 56m books, 5m for troops, the rest pulped. This included some valuable first editions as books weren’t allowed to be rescued for resale. As early as November 1939 a special Directorate was set up and a Salvage Controller appointed as part of a National Salvage Campaign. Paper salvage became compulsory in late 1940, and from 1942 those refusing to sort their waste could be fined Ј2500 and face two years in prison. Local authorities competed to collect paper, which fetched Ј5 per ton. This compulsion wasn’t removed until June 1949.