There’s steel and brass at the world famous Swan Hunters’ Neptune shipyard in Wallsend as a band plays in the rain for British India Steam Navigation Company guests at a low-key launch of the MS Manora cargo ship on 9 March 1970. A breathtaking shot reveals the remarkable scale of vessels constructed on the River Tyne as the diminutive figures of workers prepare for launch on the slipway beneath the giant ship’s hull.
Swan Hunters commissioned film and videos of ship construction, launches and sea trials from the 1950s until around 1981, many from Newcastle-based Turners Film Productions. Turners started life as a chemist shop down Pink Lane, selling cameras on the side from 1932. By 1947 they were one of the North East’s leading photographic and cine retail firms with its own film production unit, the first industrial commission with Bartram & Sons South Dock shipyard in Sunderland. Over the next 50 years, until their closure in 1999, Turners produced some 2,000 films, working for most of the industries and many of the companies and regional development agencies based in the North East.
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.