This film is part of Free
A rare glimpse into the leisure pursuits of ordinary people in pre-war Britain.
Documentary 1939 14 mins
Humphrey Jennings epitomises the artist-filmmaker and this poetic evocation of ordinary people enjoying well-earned time away from the mill, mine, or foundry is a forerunner to Jennings’ later wartime greats such as Listen to Britain. Joyous shots of people either pigeon fancying, ballroom dancing or swigging a pint down the local in in Sheffield, Manchester, Bolton and Pontypridd are edited with grace and surrealism-infused wit.
Spare Time is also available on the BFI DVD set The GPO Film Unit Collection Volume Three: If War Should Come. 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.
Travelogue 1937 12 mins Location: Finchingfield
Rural life in the Essex villages of Finchingfield and Great Bardfield - and the mixed reactions of older residents to changing times.
Documentary 1978 49 mins Location: Orkney Islands
Orkney evoked through poetry, the sounds of nature, and the music of Peter Maxwell Davies.
Non-Fiction 1904 3 mins Silent Location: Walton-on-Thames
Midsummer haymaking larks
Industry sponsored film 1951 10 mins Location: Stroud
The Stroud valleys of Gloucestershire in glorious Technicolor - and with a Laurie Lee script.
Documentary 1984 23 mins Location: Newark-on-Trent
From shire horses to the Royal Marines, welcome to the annual Newark Show. A serious business for the farming community, with prizes to win and 800 gallons of beer to be drunk.
Documentary 1944 7 mins Location: Stanion
An extraordinary and unexpected snapshot of rural life in wartime in which a young black girl is crowned Queen of the May.
Documentary 1897 1 mins Silent Location: Sheffield
Sheffield gives the capital a run for its money with an impressive parade celebrating the monarch, a month before the Diamond Jubilee.
Factual TV 1988 5 mins Location: Sheffield
Sheffield professional sportsmen train determined disabled adults to compete at the Special Olympics in this heart-warming short film. (
Amateur film 1958 7 mins Silent Location: Sheffield
Children from Sheffield enjoy becoming amateur dentists for the day in this informative educational film from the late 1950s.
Sponsored film 1959 9 mins Silent Location: Sheffield
A Sheffield bus strike causes traffic congestion in this film that shows the significant local impact that a workplace dispute can have.
Current affairs 1988 11 mins Location: Leeds
This film sees Sheffield Council reform and modernise their approach to female leisure activities for their diverse and busy community.
Amateur film 1942 19 mins Silent Location: Sheffield
Military men and women from Sheffield put on a show from 1942-1947 in this patriotic compilation film.
Travelogue 1907 9 mins Silent
A grand tour of Japan’s major cities, offering scenic views of the streets and daily life.
Interest film 1913 3 mins Silent
This ethnographic film offers a brief overview of the traditional culture of the Ainu, an ethnic minority in Japan.
Documentary 1905 4 mins
The performance of a masked dancer is followed by a scene from a kendo match, contrasting grace and ferocity.
Non-Fiction 1904 2 mins Silent
In a school gymnastic festival, boys and girls demonstrate their physical rigour through exercise and dance.
Interest film 1909 5 mins Silent
A vibrant festival with parades of fishermen and geisha celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of Yokohama Port.
1912 5 mins Silent
Pathécolor’s mechanical stencil colouring is put to good use illustrating a festival at an ancient shrine.