This film is part of Free

Gentle Giants

This is a fascinating tour of a major manufacturer in Hull, before its disappearance, showing the quality of design and workmanship in the production of their cranes.

1965 20 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


A film promoting a brand of large cranes might not seem enticing viewing, but the production team of this film, who specialised in industrial subjects, have created a highly polished behind-the-scenes look at an internationally renowned company. The obvious dedication of the workforce, and the high standard of their cranes, as demonstrated in the film, underscores the decline in British manufacturing since 1967, with Priestman Brothers in Hull being one of the victims.

This film was made three years before Priestman Brothers merged with a Coles of Sunderland in 1970. They made many films promoting their various highly rated products, well into the 1970s. The company started back in 1876 when William Priestman and his brother were asked to build a grab crane to search for gold bullion in Vigo Harbour, western Spain. They went on to produce a host of their animal-named excavators at their factory on Hedon Road, and in 1976 offshore cranes for North Sea oil rig platforms. After a series of take-overs, and dwindling to producing just spare parts, the factory closed in 2007. One account claims their products lasted too long, while competitors undercut them using similar designs.