This film is part of Free

Coast of Commerce

Take a revealing tour along a coast of contrasts, from the folksy freshness of Whitby to the coaly Tyne, queen of all rivers.

Documentary 1962 27 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


Presenter Austin Steele invites viewers on a fascinating visual sweep along the industrious and scenic North Sea coastline, collecting characterful and instructive stories as he goes. This poetic 1960s television travelogue takes in the imaginary Gothic spirit of Whitby, a web of steel in boom-town Middlesbrough, historic Cerebos salt works at Greatham, the cosmopolitan South Shields market and the shipyards of Tyneside where so many journeys have begun.

Between 1962 and 1963 Tyne Tees Television broadcast superb documentaries on the rivers and coastline of the North East in a series called Your Heritage. Coast of Commerce continues the legacy of the travelogue, with a combination of social insight, picturesque landscape, evocative camerawork and descriptive voiceover. It is beautifully scripted by Phil McDonnell, despite the dubious comparison of South Shields market to an Eastern bazaar due to a glimpse of three Yemeni men out shopping. True to the genres early roots, this travelogue alludes to the exotic, which is also evoked in picture postcard fisherwomen in Staithes bonnets and Bram Stokers imagined Whitby Goth.