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.
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-Fiction19271 mins 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.
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.
From luxury liner to 60s super-tanker, Britain's shipbuilders big up their export business in a funky and slightly bizarre promotional film.
Sponsored film19567 mins 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.
Industry sponsored film19607 mins Location: Walker
Hard graft and champagne at the successful launch of a Portuguese cruise liner, built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson.
Industry sponsored film19729 mins Location: Hebburn
The Swan Hunter shipyard celebrates the launch of a tanker built to serve the Come By Chance oil refinery in Newfoundland.
Industry sponsored film195114 mins Location: Tynemouth
The Tyne river front is at its bustling peak in this record of sea trials for the Ceres container ship.
Amateur film193116 mins 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.
Industry sponsored film19706 mins 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.
Amateur film19868 mins Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
The Queen visits a magnificent maritime spectacle on the Tyne as Newcastle hosts the Cutty Sark Tall Ships regatta.
Non-Fiction19035 mins Location: Barrow-In-Furness
Princess Louise comes to Edwardian Barrow in Furness to christen the battleship HMS Dominion.
Launch of the "Athelsultan" Built to the Order of Athel Lines Ltd, London by Smith Docks Ltd, Southbank-on-Tees
Industry sponsored film19509 mins Location: Middlesbrough
Grandeur, excitement and pride for a Middlesbrough crowd at the Smiths Dock launch of a ship for the Sugar Line.
Home movie19302 mins 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.
Non-Fiction195913 mins 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 mins 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.
Industry sponsored film19788 mins Location: Walker
Royal Navy top brass at the launch of the HMS Exeter destroyer from the world famous Swan Hunters shipyard on Tyneside.
Amateur film193814 mins 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.
Non-Fiction1929 mins 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 mins Location: Wallsend
Tyneside shipyard Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson turns out a beast of a tanker for the Argentine Navy
Industry sponsored film19625 mins 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.
Amateur film19757 mins 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.
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.