Start a Land Club

Archive: Screen Archive South East
ID No.: 1648
Title: Start a Land Club
Date: 1942
Film-maker: Ministry of Information
Colour: Black & White
Sound: sound
Duration of complete item: 7 min. 30 sec.
Themes: Industry in War-time; Women's Role


Using the Surrey Land Club as an example, this Ministry of Information film demonstrates the farmwork carried out by volunteers, and encourages people to start their own clubs.


The film opens with shots of men and women labouring in a field while the farmer's narration explains the concept behind the Land Clubs. Focusing on individuals in the club the farmer explains that the volunteers have full-time jobs during the week but offer their time and labour at weekends on the farm. Further scenes of the 'gang' shows them planting potatoes, hoeing, driving tractors and sowing seeds - workers include Miss Johnson and Miss Williams. There is also a close-up of a Surrey Land Club armband worn by one of the volunteers.

A dramatisation of a meeting where the distribution of labour is organised follows. The organising committee, including Miss M J Carter, are shown sitting around a table, the farmer telephones to request help on his farm at the weekend. The committee members delegate volunteers to each farm requesting help. Gangs of volunteers are then shown reporting for duty on the farm. Further scenes show the volunteers at work in the field. The farmer, Mr Baker, then makes a direct plea to the viewer, urging people to contact their County War Agricultural Committee for advice on how to start a Land Club.


The Surrey Land Clubs were founded on 13 June 1940 by Miss M J Carter of Surbiton, who acted as their organiser throughout the War. Miss Carter, who worked for Surrey County Council based her organisation on the Altrincham and Cheshire Voluntary Land Club, featured in the BBC Radio Programme 'Backs to the Land' , broadcast on Saturday 1 July 1940. The clubs were open to all Surrey residents over 17 years of age. Two 'camps' were run at Shere and Chertsey and 'gangs' (consisting of mainly office workers) worked in teams of 6 or 8.

The Land Clubs differed slightly from the Land Army in that the Clubs provided farmers with 'unskilled' labour primarily at weekends; the volunteers often being in full-time employment during the week. A 'gang leader' would be responsible for organising the distribution of labour, collecting the wages, paying members expenses and forwarding any surplus to the Treasurer. In the case of the Surrey Land Club, profits were donated to the Red Cross Agricultural Fund.

The film's director, Andrew Buchanan, was involved in the production of many films for the Ministry Of Information (MOI) and Central Office of Information (COI). This is a fairly typical example of the sort of films made during the war by the government to encourage people to sign up for voluntary work or to play their part in some way on the home front.

The film's Associate Producer, Edgar Anstey, made many films for the MOI and COI. He was a protégé of John Grierson, a co-founder of British Transport Films and an Oscar winner.

Start a Land Club (1942)

Start a Land Club (1942)

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