The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

A Ship There Was
A Ship There Was

A Ship There Was 1952


This film is certified

Please confirm that you accept our terms of use.


A Ship There Was 1952

25 mins United Kingdom

The ships built on Tyneside are destined to travel further than the men who built them. Popular actors from the radical People’s Theatre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne star in this stylish post-war drama-documentary made to promote the National Savings movement. A tale of thwarted social ambition, Joe forgoes a cruise on the Ocean Monarch liner he helped to construct at Vickers Armstrong for the sake of his son’s education in the Merchant Navy.

Common to many fictional shipyard features, ‘A Ship There Was’ romanticises (and stereotypes) the worker in a tight-knit community, and emphasises a craft passed down from father to son. As with the 1944 Ministry of Information propaganda film Tyneside Story (also preserved at North East Film Archive), there is marvellous documentary footage of the shipyards, the Walker Shipyard Choir sing ‘Blaydon Races’, and the cast includes People’s Theatre actors Bob Griffin and Sal Sturgeon. Sturgeon was a well-known Tyneside performer who played to BBC Newcastle radio audiences as young Tyneside terror Lizzie Ann with the ‘5NO’ Newcastle Company. She became one of the first women directors on radio.

North East Film Archive is one of a network of regional film archives established to collect, preserve and show film made in, or about the North East of England. Our collections are non-fiction, and date from the early 1900s to the present day, providing a rich record of life in the region over the 20th century. Many of our films are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.


Drama Documentary




Shipbuilding on Film




United Kingdom



Read lessRead more


View All

Welcome to a new subscription service like no other.

>100s of hand-picked classics and critically-acclaimed films

>Critic Mark Kermode picks a must-see film every week

>No contract, cancel anytime

Cookies Policy

This website uses cookies, as explained in our Cookies Policy.

To accept the terms and hide this message please click 'I accept'.

I accept

Passionate about film? So are we…

Don't miss the email made for the in-the-know film fan:

New releases — on the same day as in cinemas Special collections & unheralded classics Exclusive news on discounts

Never ask | Ask me later