You appear to be using a browser that is no longer supported. You may find that you are unable to use all features on the site. We recommend upgrading or changing your browser, if possible.
Skip to main content
Search... Open this section

Chemical Sundries Department (clip 1)

The processing and testing of Co-op food products

  • Print All


A promotional film shot inside the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society's Chemical Sundries factory at Shieldhall, Glasgow. The film shows methods of quality control and product testing carried out in the laboratory and the manufacturing processes involved. This first clip details what the Chemical Sundries Department does and what products it tests. Shots inside the laboratory. The Salt 'tanker' unloads the salt by piping into a silo - 40 tonnes every week. It then goes into the mixing machine and then to the filling machine. We then see shots of the salt packing and wrapping machine which 'turns out cartons by the thousand'. The cartons are lined with greaseproof paper to exclude dampt and moisture. The cartons are mechanically folded and then are filled at a rate of almost one every second. A machine then closes and seals each packet and sends it along a conveybelt. Snowdrop is the only salt which is doubly protected with an outer and inner layer of wax paper which costs more to produce but keeps the product fresher and helps the salt to run more smoothly. The packets are then placed in larger cartons for dispatch to the shops. Go to clip 2 of this film.

Questions & Activities


  • What is the Chemical Sundries Department and what does it do?
  • Why is the salt brand called 'Snowdrop'. What other names could you use?
  • Why are the cartons lined with greaseproof paper? Why is this helpful to the housewife?
  • Why must supermarkets test the products before they reach the shop.
  • Why is salt needed in your diet?
  • What is it used for in food?
  • What other uses can you think of that salt is used for?


Sequencing: Sequence the journey of the salt arriving at the factory until it leaves for the shop. Draw a storyboard to represent this journey. You could use a set of stills from the film.

Maths: Calculate how many packets of salt are filled in a day, if one packet is filled every second and a day lasts for 7 hours.

Food / Health and Wellbeing: Find out how salt is made and where it comes from. Then chart the journey from creation of the salt to the Chemical Sundries Department.

Science / Technologies: The narrator says of one machine that 'you might say that it was almost human'. What effect did automated machines have on the production and cost of food? Automated machines and new labour saving devices such as the vacuum cleaner and the electric iron were supposed to make modern life easier and take care of all the boring jobs. Is that true? How many labour saving devices do you have in your home? In a pair or group, design a robot that would make life easier for you.

Maths: Make a shopping list of 10 to 20 essential household food items. Research the different supermarkets online sites to compare the total cost and shopping. Where are the bargains to be found? Plan a week's shopping for a family of 4. Can you shop for everything you need on a budget of £100.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-089-C
Resource Rights Holder By kind permission of The Co-operative Group Limited
Project Ref 0616
Date 1959
Genre Promotional
School Subject Technologies, Chemistry, Economics, Health and Wellbeing, Mathematics, English
Subject Matter Food, Media
Who Gate Film Productions (production company), Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society (SCWS), (sponsor)
Where Glasgow, Shieldhall
Event Manufacturing, Chemicals
Attributes Colour, Sound
Clip Length 2:20
Film Length 11:00