This film is part of Free

Launch of the Queen Elizabeth; Launch of HMS Edinburgh; Launch of Dominion Monarch

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.

Amateur film 1938 14 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


As war looms, a fleet of Royal Navy destroyers – HMS Echo, Eclipse and Express - add a frisson of menace to the heavily industrial River Tyne. Shot by amateur filmmakers, this medley of films shifts from chilling to celebratory. Large crowds gather for a royal launch of the Queen Elizabeth on Clydebank, and the Swan Hunter launches at Wallsend are equally festive. But the ships, Dominion Monarch and the naval cruiser HMS Edinburgh, are both destined for battle in World War II.

These films were produced by members of Newcastle and District Amateur Cinematographers’ Association, formed in 1927 by James Cameron and friends, and probably one of the earliest cine clubs of its kind in the world. Although its focus was on fiction film production, the club’s early documentaries were strong, covering some of the most important events on Tyneside. These include footage of construction projects and launches at some of Tyneside’s famous shipyards, probably facilitated (if not produced) by former Newcastle ACA president Peter G. Cambell, who was also a Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson board member.