This film is part of Free

The Story of Sheep

Each year the cycle is renewed, beginning and ending with spring lambs basking in the sun, and in between sheep get transformed from animals into woolly jumpers and Sunday lunch.

Non-Fiction 1956 23 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


The story of sheep in the East Riding in 1956 is not an especially happy one. From being vaccinated, herded and ringed to drenching, dipping and shearing and having their tails cut off with a red hot iron. Then transported by lorry to market to be penned in and examined, and finally ending up in someone’s oven – we are saved from the slaughterhouse. But in the meantime, lambs frolic on bales of hay, and we get to see a long gone era of flat caps and dark, not quite satanic, mills.

This film was made by keen filmmaker Albert Smith, who lived in Skidby, East Yorkshire. Albert was from a family of dairy farmers in West Yorkshire, before moving to East Yorkshire to set up a business buying and selling livestock at markets in Beverley, Driffield and Hull. Albert always took his cine camera with him wherever he went, making documentary type films, including one in the same year on ‘Birds and their Nests’. He would enter these for competitions with the Hull Cine Club. Although the 2006 Animal Welfare Act recognised animals as sentient beings and placed a duty of care for animal welfare, the treatment of sheep has hardly changed since the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act of 1954.