This film is part of Free

The Flying Squadrons of Bempton Cliffs

Fearless Yorkshiremen and women scale Bempton cliffs in search of sea birds' eggs.

Interest film 1921 11 mins Silent


There's nothing to do with aviation in this film of egg gathering on Bempton Clifs in Yorkshire's East Riding, but it's intrepid all the same. It follows a group of 'climmers' - four men and one woman - who take turns to scale the sheer chalk cliffs, suspended from ropes and basic harnesses, with the North Sea lapping hungrily some 400ft below. Dizzying viewpoints and some colourfully-worded intertitles heighten the inherent drama - not for the faint-hearted!

Farmers whose land adjoined the cliffs had the right to harvest eggs, which was lucrative (if absurdly dangerous) in the 1920s, with the eggs doing a roaring trade among professional collectors, or sold for food - London hotels were apparently particularly keen. During WWII, the egg collectors' efforts were applauded due to the short supply of hens' eggs. But by the mid-50s the practice had been banned, and today Bempton Cliffs are a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds nature reserve.