This film is part of Free

May is Out

A skilled sheep shearer demonstrates that a sheep can be hand sheared very quickly, keeping the coat in one piece, and, hopefully, without causing too much distress to the sheep.

Non-Fiction 1950 3 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


This is one of many examples of Leeds’ couple Betty and Cyril Ramsden in the 1950s filming an ancient skill – in this case hand sheep shearing – displaying their filmmaking skills and enthusiasm for local customs. It is noteworthy for showing that, despite claims to the contrary, the entire fleece can be removed in one piece using hand blade shears.

Betty and Cyril Ramsden, prominent members of Leeds Cine Club, began making their large collection of films in 1945 and continued into the mid-1960s. Cyril had a dental practice in Headingley. Their film collection was made the subject of a BBC/Open University television programme, Nation on Film (2006). Although mechanical and electrical shearers had been available for decades before this film, hand shearers are still used today, especially where the climate still requires a small covering of wool. Although the shearing looks quite benign in this film, animal rights campaigners are critical of the treatment of farmed sheep and the practice of shearing.