This film is part of Free

Wartime Factory

The factory floor view of WWII, inside a busy aircraft works

Government sponsored film 1940 9 mins Silent


This documentary was filmed in a simple, confident style at a WWII aircraft factory, at the sharp end of the frantic production drive servicing total war. It's a world of lathes, drills, milling machines and furnaces but of offices too, and community. Many women, many men, a recreation hall and the all-important canteen ("the industrial army marches on its stomach"): everything running like clockwork, shift to shift, night into day, day into night.

Everyone's on the job six days a week. But all work stops for lunch, smoking is permitted at all times and some nights the factory is magically transformed into a concert hall. The film's credits include several key names from the British Documentary Film Movement, which had always viewed government information films as a means of advancing national self-awareness and a vaguely progressive, broadly communitarian vision. The factory is ultimately a metaphor for nation: Britain itself, we infer, has become a sort of giant wartime factory - an intricate but epic national machine that is purposeful, efficient but also humane. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.