Press Releases

1950s foot and mouth film to be shown at MERL – University of Reading

Release Date : 13 November 2007

A film documenting the foot and mouth outbreak of the 1950s will be shown at the Museum of English Rural Life tomorrow afternoon.

The film, Foot and Mouth, was directed and written by Lindsay Anderson in 1956 and is being shown as part of the Countryside Archives Project, along with a lecture by Mark Broughton, from the University's Department of Film, Theatre and Television, University of Reading, entitled "Experts in the field: rhetoric and aesthetics in the agricultural documentary".

The lecture will explore and contextualise the relationship between rhetoric and landscape aesthetics in two films, Ditching, from 1942, directed by Margaret S Thompson and Foot and Mouth, by Lindsay Anderson. Both directors directed films for the Ministry of Agriculture early in their careers.

In June 2005 the Museum of English Rural Life received £100,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to fund a project for two and half years to improve access, preserve countryside organisation archives and films and to improve awareness of the Museum of English Rural Life archives. The project has catalogued 300 films of the Ministry of Agriculture's film library and films created by National Dairy Council 1940s-1970s. The archive films have been transferred to a viewing copy and an archive broadcasting quality copy. This will ensure the films are accessible to the public for the first time.

Caroline Gould, Archivist, said: "It is fantastic that the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation grant has ensured the long term preservation and access to 300 nationally important rural documentaries which are now available for research by academics and are accessible to a wider audience. Mark Broughton is the first academic to study these films since they have been accessible and we are looking forward to the event on 14 November to hear about his research.

"The Countryside Archives Project has also catalogued archives of over 70 agricultural organisations including National Union of Agricultural Workers, Country Landowners Association, Council for National Parks, National Institute of Research Dairying and Butter Council. This event celebrates the end of a very successful project."

Mark Broughton is a Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Reading. He is currently researching landscape in post-Second World War British film and television. His essay on landscape gardens in Kind Hearts and Coronets will be published in a new collection on Ealing Studios. He has also written about British science fiction television; his book about the screenwriter, Nigel Kneale, will be published by Manchester University Press.

The event takes place on Wednesday 14th November from 2 to 5pm. Anyone wishing to attend should call 0118 378 8660 or email


Note for media: Media are welcome to attend. If you wish to come along, please contact Alison Hilton, marketing officer, on 0118 378 8600

Notes for editors:

1. More information about the Museum of English Rural Life

The Museum of English Rural Life, in Redlands Road, Reading, was founded by the University of Reading in 1951 to reflect and record the changing face of farming and the countryside. It houses designated collections of national importance that span the full range of objects, archives, photographs, film and books. Today, it forms part of the University's Museums and Collections Service. The Museum operates as a major resource and research centre for the history of food, farming and the countryside with links into the School of History and other academic departments at the University.

2. More information About the University of Reading

The University of Reading is one of the foremost research-led universities in the UK. Founded in the nineteenth century and gaining a Royal Charter in 1926, we offer a wide range of programmes from the pure and applied sciences to languages, social sciences and fine art. New research and the latest thinking continually feed into undergraduate teaching, with our academic staff working at the forefront of their fields of expertise.


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