Shipbuilding on Film
Every ship launch is an epic. The majestic glide of the colossus into the waiting waters is a spectacle made for filming.
Shipbuilding as a process, too, has long fascinated filmmakers: the slow emergence - over months and years - of the ship's form from its wood and metal skeleton, the awesome investment of labour and craft that brings it into being. As an island nation, Britain has always imposed itself on the seas. But by the 20th century, Britain's shipyards weren't just meeting her own naval and merchant shipping needs - British shipbuilding was a service industry to the world. These films, from documentaries and newsreels to feature films, bring to life the stories of the communities around the UK shaped by the shipyards. This collection is supported by The Chandris Foundation, Community Union, The Eric Anker-Petersen Charity and The Shipwrights Charitable Fund.
Industry sponsored film19577 mins Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
The famous Swan Hunter shipyards on the Tyne grease the slipway for another stirring launch in the prosperous 1950s.
Building and Launch of the "Crepath" at BarnstapleBuilding and Launch of the "Crepath" at Barnstaple
Non-Fiction19185 minsSilent Location: Barnstaple
Barnstaple's experimental concrete-hulled ship gets a visit from a jolly Italian admiral.
Industry sponsored film194034 mins Location: Royal Albert Dock
There’s breathtaking footage of the London’s docks at their bustling peak in this informative film celebrating the work of the Port Of London Authority.
Non-Fiction19122 minsSilent Location: Southampton
Two of the earliest surviving editions of the Topical Budget newsreel, released in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster.
The iconic Cunard White Star liner leaves the shipyard of her birth and ventures seawards for the first time.
Government sponsored film194010 mins
Shipwrights, plate-fitters and riveters support the war effort as their ships take majestic shape in this tour of British shipyards.
Non-Fiction19271 minsSilent Location: Clydebank
10,000 tons of steel slides into the Clyde in the form of HMAS Australia, a ship that would serve the Australian Navy well in WWII.
Current affairs197127 mins
Glasgow shipbuilders organise a "work-in" in response to being laid off by the liquidators of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS).
Launch of Canadian Pacific Steamship "Princess Elizabeth"Launch of Canadian Pacific Steamship "Princess Elizabeth"
Non-Fiction19301 minsSilent Location: Clydebank
The steamship Princess Elizabeth glides down the slipway at Fairfield, Glasgow.
Documentary198525 mins Location: Swinton
A genuinely fascinating businessman, with workman’s hands, an old battered Austin, still labouring at 77, and keeping many a church going.
Sponsored film19522 minsSilent Location: Belfast
Enter the spectacular slipways of Harland & Wolff, explore the shipyard that built the Titanic and her sister ships.
From luxury liner to 60s super-tanker, Britain's shipbuilders big up their export business in a funky and slightly bizarre promotional film.
Ropner & Co., Shipbuilders, Stockton on Tees (1900)Ropner & Co., Shipbuilders, Stockton on Tees (1900)
Non-Fiction19003 minsSilent Location: Stockton-on-Tees
Hometime for thousands of Teesside shipbuilders.
Amateur film193519 minsSilent Location: Wallsend
A construction project looks to the future at a Swan Hunter’s Tyneside shipyard in the 1930s.
Sponsored film19567 minsSilent Location: Belfast
Experience luxury afloat as the Duke of Lancaster embarks on its maiden voyage. Behold the splendour of the ill-fated Funship during it’s heyday with the British Railways fleet.
Launch of TSS Principe Perfeito 22nd September 1960Launch of TSS Principe Perfeito 22nd September 1960
Industry sponsored film19607 minsSilent Location: Walker
Hard graft and champagne at the successful launch of a Portuguese cruise liner, built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson.
Industry sponsored film19729 minsSilent Location: Hebburn
The Swan Hunter shipyard celebrates the launch of a tanker built to serve the Come By Chance oil refinery in Newfoundland.
M.V. Ceres Built by Furness Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, Haverton HillM.V. Ceres Built by Furness Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, Haverton Hill
Industry sponsored film195114 minsSilent Location: Tynemouth
The Tyne river front is at its bustling peak in this record of sea trials for the Ceres container ship.
Oil Tanker Wellfield; HMS Bulldog Torpedo Boat DestroyerOil Tanker Wellfield; HMS Bulldog Torpedo Boat Destroyer
Amateur film193116 minsSilent Location: North Shields
The casual heroes of the shipyards – workers and the ships they build on Tyneside are captured in beautiful monochrome by an early cine club.
Employees Leaving Messrs Vickers, Sons & Maxim in Barrow (1901)Employees Leaving Messrs Vickers, Sons & Maxim in Barrow (1901)
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Barrow-In-Furness
Edwardian workers file out of a naval shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness.
Industry sponsored film19706 minsSilent Location: Wallsend
A brass band serenades guests in the rain at aTyneside launch of the towering MS Manora cargo ship from Swan Hunters shipyard in Wallsend.
Large Freighter is being Built at Appledore ShipyardLarge Freighter is being Built at Appledore Shipyard
News19781 minsSilent Location: Appledore
The industry where the waves meet the shore
Amateur film19868 minsSilent Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
The Queen visits a magnificent maritime spectacle on the Tyne as Newcastle hosts the Cutty Sark Tall Ships regatta.
Royal Visit to Barrow and Launch of HMS Dominion (1903)Royal Visit to Barrow and Launch of HMS Dominion (1903)
Non-Fiction19035 minsSilent Location: Barrow-In-Furness
Princess Louise comes to Edwardian Barrow in Furness to christen the battleship HMS Dominion.
Workforce of Scott & Co. Shipyard, Greenock (1901)Workforce of Scott & Co. Shipyard, Greenock (1901)
Non-Fiction19012 minsSilent Location: Greenock
Unruly shipworkers defy direction from Mitchell and Kenyon's showmen partners.
Launch of the "Athelsultan" Built to the Order of Athel Lines Ltd, London by Smith Docks Ltd, Southbank-on-TeesLaunch of the "Athelsultan" Built to the Order of Athel Lines Ltd, London by Smith Docks Ltd, Southbank-on-Tees
Industry sponsored film19509 minsSilent Location: Middlesbrough
Grandeur, excitement and pride for a Middlesbrough crowd at the Smiths Dock launch of a ship for the Sugar Line.
Home movie19302 minsSilent Location: Bangor
The yacht, Genetta IV, takes to the water at Dickies Bangor, where she was made, bedecked with bunting, cheered by crowds and launched by a woman in a flowery hat.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Names and Launches RMS Windsor Castle 38.000 tonsHer Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Names and Launches RMS Windsor Castle 38.000 tons
Non-Fiction195913 minsSilent Location: Birkenhead
The launch of a majestic liner, and a triumph for British shipbuilding skills.
Amateur film196014 mins Location: Largs
Join a family of 1960s holiday makers as they tell the story of their colourful adventure on the high seas of Scotland, steaming around the Firth of Clyde and beyond.
Non-Fiction19115 minsSilent Location: Canning Town
HMS Thunderer is launched by the Archbishop of Canterbury's wife, in a ceremony attended by thousands of dignitaries and most of East London.
Launch of HMS Exeter, Neptune Yard, 17.15 Tuesday 25th April, 1978Launch of HMS Exeter, Neptune Yard, 17.15 Tuesday 25th April, 1978
Industry sponsored film19788 minsSilent Location: Walker
Royal Navy top brass at the launch of the HMS Exeter destroyer from the world famous Swan Hunters shipyard on Tyneside.
Launch of the Queen Elizabeth; Launch of HMS Edinburgh; Launch of Dominion MonarchLaunch of the Queen Elizabeth; Launch of HMS Edinburgh; Launch of Dominion Monarch
Amateur film193814 minsSilent Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
On the brink of war, Royal Navy destroyers assemble ominously on the Tyne - and a chain of ship launches are celebrated from Glasgow to Newcastle.
Industry sponsored film196013 mins Location: Renfrew
Is that a dinosaur in the shipyard? A new Jurassic-looking crane arrives on the Clyde, plus a look at tyre making and a Scottish regatta.
Britain's Largest Motor Ship Empire News Bulletin No. 342Britain's Largest Motor Ship Empire News Bulletin No. 342
Non-Fiction1929 minsSilent Location: Belfast
A ship off the old chocks! White Star's third liner to bear the name Britannic launches from Harland & Wolff's shipyard in Belfast
Sponsored film19508 minsSilent Location: Wallsend
Tyneside shipyard Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson turns out a beast of a tanker for the Argentine Navy
Industry sponsored film19625 minsSilent Location: Sunderland
Cloth caps at the keel blocks, bowlers on the platform, tug boats at the ready for the launch of the British Cavalier tanker on the River Wear at Sunderland.
From US colonialism to UK shipbuilding via anti-strikebreaking measures - this issue of the American newsreel has it all.
Amateur film19757 minsSilent Location: Beverley
An atmospheric film of a dry dock, the welding of the hull, primitively held by timber supports, before the ship plunges sideways into a river.
Documentary197014 mins Location: Cromer
The history of the lightship, including the recollections of retired mariner Charlie Moll, and archive footage of fisher girls at Yarmouth.
Shipbuilding on Film - Professor Hugh Murphy
Excerpts from the extended essay by Professor Hugh Murphy gives a contextual grasp of the British shipbuilding industry for a large part of the twentieth century.