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Life in the Orkneys (clip 3)

Farming and industry

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Third part of a film about life on the Orkney islands. This clip focuses first on the life of a farmer and the business of farming in the 1950s. It features shots of farming including how to make a field out of a moor. Shots of gathering seaweed. Views of fields with hay stacks. Cattle auction. The county agricultural show including horses, Aberdeen Angus and Shorthorn cattle; farm equipment demonstration. Shots of Kirkwall Egg Grading Station. Shots of a wind turbine and an aeroplane with a brief discussion about wind power and the importance of air travel to the island economy. The clip then goes on to look at the manufacture of Orkney tweed, whisky distillation and cultural life in Kirkwall including the Women's Rural Institute, Kirkwall Library, an annual exhibition of paintings and community centres. The clip ends with shots of St Magnus Cathedral.

Questions & Activities


  • Is farming as important to the local economy today?
  • Has the process of land reclamation continued on Orkney?
  • What is the seaweed used for?
  • How much money do the eggs bring to Orkney? Are eggs still big business in Orkney?
  • Who arrives by plane and why?
  • What cargos arrive and leave at Kirkwall harbour? Where do they go?
  • How would you describe the tone and style of this film?
  • Does it present a positive or negative image of Orkney?
  • How is this underscored by the use of music and diegetic sound?
  • Who do you think is the intended audience for this film?


English / Local History: Try to take photographs or digital video from exactly the same places depicted in the film and write a booklet or make a documentary incorporating both sets of footage to show how your town has changed in the intervening period. Discuss your thoughts and feelings about those changes.

Geography / Business Studies: Note down the names, industries and locations of the shops you see in the film. Find out what businesses are in those locations today and make a chart detailing the change in the business and locations.

Business Studies / Tourism / Enterprise: If you were to make your own movie about the economy of Orkney today. Discuss what the class would choose to focus on to attract visitors to the islands.

Social Studies: Find out how many clubs Kirkwall or your town has today. Find out what they do and how many people go.

History: Research St Ronald and his history/links to the Orkney Islands.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-249-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 2009
Date 1957
Genre Documentary, Sponsored
School Subject Geography, History, Economics, Business Studies, Travel and Tourism, Social Studies
Subject Matter Rivers and Coasts, Transportation, Local History
Who Alan Harper (director), Campbell Harper Films (production company), Films of Scotland (sponsor), Moultrie Kelsall (narrator), Robert Kemp (writer)
Where Kirkwall, Orkney
Event Agricultural
Attributes Black and White, Sound
Clip Length 9:27
Film Length 17:38