This film is part of Free

Near Home

A rare outing for a 1945 drama documentary on local studies education in Bishop Auckland by one of Britain's pioneering women directors.

Government sponsored film 1949 24 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


Directed by innovative British filmmaker Kay Mander, this is a curiosity for devotees of public information films. School children act out new ideas for post-war education and investigate hidden histories near home, exploring industries, farms and Roman ruins around Bishop Auckland, then present an exhibition for local folk. Actuality footage of Wilsons Forge (closed in 1997) serves today as an elegy for one of the lost traditional industries in North East England.

This film was made for the Ministry of Education in 1945, shortly after Conservative politician Rab Butlers 1944 Education Act, dubbed the Childrens Charter, introduced free secondary education for all. This was one of the first commissions for Basic Films, a production company co-founded by Kay Mander, a prolific contributor to documentary filmmaking in 1940s Britain. She worked for both the prestigious Shell Film Unit and Paul Rotha Productions during World War Two, and with Basic Films made the acclaimed Homes for the People (1945) for the Labour Party election campaign.