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Duration 00:00:40

To Go Up In Smoke (1934)

The National Archives Education team’s film of the month highlights a Pathé film relating to current events, anniversaries or key topics that you may be covering in the classroom.

This month’s clip is titled ‘To Go Up In Smoke’ and shows Guy Fawkes night celebrations at Wanstead Children’s Homes in London in 1934. The film shows nurses climbing ladders to build a large bonfire with a Guy Fawkes doll while children in the home look on.

With the passing of the New Poor Law in 1834, the state began to play a role in the residential care of orphaned or neglected children. From the 1840s, impoverished children were increasingly housed in separate accommodation away from the workhouse. In the 1930s, county and county borough councils took responsibility for the administration of children’s homes and the boarding-out (fostering) scheme, although the voluntary sector continued to provide residential homes.

With this film, students could consider:

  • How is the celebration of Guy Fawkes night in this film different from what you’re used to? How is it similar?
  • Why do you think the nurses are organising a bonfire in this children’s home?
  • What can this film tell you about life in a children’s home in 1930s London?

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