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Launching the Queen Mary and the opening of Southampton's Graving Dock

An historic gem of a film, in three sections, from William Craven-Ellis featuring Queen Mary and the fabulous luxury liner that bore her name

Amateur film 1933 18 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Wessex Film and Sound Archive


William Craven-Ellis' stunning film shows three connected events. We start with the 1934 launch of the Queen Mary on Clydebank. Filmed from across the river, crowds of spectators watch as the huge liner slides down the slipway. We next see an event in 1933 - where King George V and Queen Mary arrive on the Royal Yacht to open Southampton's Graving Dock. Finally, we see the liner Queen Mary sail into the dock, getting glimpses of her luxury interior before she departs once more.

William Craven-Ellis was the Conservative MP for Southampton from 1931 until the General Election of 1945. His many home-movies, made with his daughter, Mrs D Campbell, often captured memorable and historic scenes like those seen in this film. Being the local MP, he would naturally have attended the official opening of Southampton’s Graving Dock by King George and Queen Mary, on the 26th July 1933. The huge dry-dock was built specifically to accommodate a new generation of very large liners like the Queen Mary and it remained the world's largest dock of its kind for almost thirty years. Interestingly, the first ship to use the dock was the White Star liner Majestic, which is also featured in this film.