Family Tradition


Peter Page and his oversize, steam-engine spanners

‘The Moon and The Sledgehammer’, an independent film made in 1970, has achieved near cult status amongst an unlikely pairing of steam and movie buffs.

Created by the talented film maker Philip Trevelyan this is a documentary about the Page family of East Sussex, England. The elderly father, two sons and two daughters live in a cottage in the middle of a wood. They have no electricity and no running water. They are as far as can be, self-sufficient – except they don’t recognise the term; for them this is the only life they know.

Mr. Page greets the morning birds…

Peter and Jim are the two sons of the colourful Mr.Page. They are intuitive engineers who take on any project set before them, from re-tubing a steam engine boiler to grinding a crankshaft, to pouring and scraping bearings. They use machine tools of considerable size and antiquity which are scattered throughout the woods, protected by corrugated iron roofs and driven by antediluvian stationary engines. Their levels of skill and craftsmanship are outstanding.

The sisters, Nancy and Kath are talented seamstresses, they keep house, and look after the poultry. They have strong and independent characters. They smoke continuously!

Nancy Page at her pump organ…

Mr.Page senior is nominally ‘in charge’. The movie centres upon the relationships between him and the siblings, and rather proves that ‘in charge’ is probably the wrong description. It is a remarkable film documenting a remarkably eccentric family. There are moments of poignancy, humour and profundity. Theirs is a mode of living few of us will ever be vouchsafed a glimpse of…I urge you to take this opportunity to see the film, for their way of life and habitation is sadly no more. Most of the cast have moved on to their rewards.

A website dedicated to the Page family, this movie, its making and its makers is to be found at

Posted on by Paul d'Orléans in Family Tradition, Tools Leave a comment