The North East Film Archive is one of a network of regional film archives established to collect, preserve and show film made in, or about the North East of England. Our collections are non-fiction, and date from the early 1900s to the present day, providing a rich record of life in the region over the 20th century. Many of our films are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.
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Oil Tanker Wellfield; HMS Bulldog Torpedo Boat Destroyer
The casual heroes of the shipyards – workers and the ships they build on Tyneside are captured in beautiful monochrome by an early cine club.
Amateur film 1931 16 mins Silent
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Cine club filmmakers craft a realistic portrait of workers repairing the oil tanker Wellfield at Smith’s dry docks in North Shields. And in the same year, the Swan Hunters-built Royal Navy destroyer HMS Bulldog powers through stormy seas on its sea trial long before its heroic role in World War Two. Cameramen bravely set up their equipment on a rolling and pitching tugboat to record the ship’s passage from the foggy Tyne.
The founder of Newcastle and District Amateur Cinematographers’ Association, James Cameron, and crew produced these films at a time when British documentary pioneers such as John Grierson, and later Paul Rotha with ‘Shipyard’, were starting to highlight the role of workers in striking films on the British maritime industries. HMS Bulldog crew were involved in one of the most significant intelligence breakthroughs of the Second World War. On 10 May 1941, after an attack on a German U-Boat, a boarding party captured a complete Enigma machine with all its code settings. This enabled cryptographers at Bletchley Park to crack the notoriously impenetrable German naval codes.
Shipbuilding on Film
Industry sponsored film 1957 7 mins Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
The famous Swan Hunter shipyards on the Tyne grease the slipway for another stirring launch in the prosperous 1950s.
Building and Launch of the "Crepath" at Barnstaple Building and Launch of the "Crepath" at Barnstaple
Non-Fiction 1918 5 mins Silent Location: Barnstaple
Barnstaple's experimental concrete-hulled ship gets a visit from a jolly Italian admiral.
Industry sponsored film 1940 34 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.
1935 25 mins Location: Barrow-In-Furness
Paul Rotha’s brilliant film of the building and launch of SS Orion from the shipyards of Barrow-in-Furness.
Non-Fiction 1912 2 mins Silent Location: Southampton
Two of the earliest surviving editions of the Topical Budget newsreel, released in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster.
1936 2 mins Silent
The iconic Cunard White Star liner leaves the shipyard of her birth and ventures seawards for the first time.
ACA Goes Down River for Special Launching of Tynemouth Lifeboat ACA Goes Down River for Special Launching of Tynemouth Lifeboat
Amateur film 1947 9 mins Silent Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Downriver with a movie camera for a special launch of the Tynemouth lifeboat.
Documentary 1980 26 mins Location: South Shields
Captain Purvis muses on his long life as a river pilot and the generations of men in his family who guided ships on the Tyne.
Documentary 1964 25 mins Location: Seaton Sluice
A fishing rod is a stick with a hook at one end, and a fool at the other.
Documentary 1962 25 mins Location: North Shields
A striking documentary captures the waning fortunes of the herring industry as an old steam drifter braves a squally North Sea to bring in a fresh catch to North Shields.
Documentary 1959 14 mins Location: North Shields
A gripping ballad of fishermen aboard the Ben Torc trawler chasing the cod shoals on the black night seas to bring the catch back to North Shields.
Amateur film 1963 11 mins Silent Location: Town Moor
A swinging 60s Hoppings bursts into life on Newcastles Town Moor with barkers and tasselled showgirls advertising Striptease for Fearless Pashion.
Travelogue 1953 21 mins Location: York
The Stationmaster at York guides us through a typical day, from dawn to dusk.
Industry sponsored film 1960 24 mins
A new luxury express is put through its paces. This film looks over the shoulders of the select band of craftsmen, engineers and operators, whose combined skills try to ensure that a train journey is a delightful experience.
Industry sponsored film 1957 20 mins
Illustrating the efficiency of express freight trains, and how they link manufacturers with their customers at the other end of Britain.
Documentary 1952 30 mins
Examining a day in the life of what was then the busiest railway system in the world – British Railways.
Documentary 1973 15 mins
British Transport Films record the varied daily lives of their neighbours as seen from the high roof of their building in London’s Marylebone.
Industry sponsored film 1957 9 mins
A 1957 film examining the future for British Railways, and some of the opportunities provided by a new modernisation plan.
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