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
Ship is Launched
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.
Non-Fiction 1910 8 mins Silent
The construction and launch of the S.S. Olympic, the sister ship of the Titanic.
Royal Visit to Barrow and Launch of HMS Dominion (1903)
Non-Fiction 1903 5 mins Silent Location: Barrow-In-Furness
Princess Louise comes to Edwardian Barrow in Furness to christen the battleship HMS Dominion.
Ship There Was
Documentary 1952 25 mins
A heart-warming tale about a Tyneside shipyard worker who dreams of a cruise on the luxury ocean liner he helps to build.
Workforce of Scott & Co. Shipyard, Greenock (1901)
Non-Fiction 1901 2 mins Silent Location: Greenock
Unruly shipworkers defy direction from Mitchell and Kenyon's showmen partners.
Launch of the "Athelsultan" Built to the Order of Athel Lines Ltd, London by Smith Docks Ltd, Southbank-on-Tees
Industry sponsored film 1950 9 mins Silent Location: Middlesbrough
Grandeur, excitement and pride for a Middlesbrough crowd at the Smiths Dock launch of a ship for the Sugar Line.
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.
How the Boat Comes In
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 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.
Kind of Heaven
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.
Town Moor, Fish Market, Holy Island & Roman Wall
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.
Hovis: Boy on the Bike
Advert 1974 1 mins Location: Shaftesbury
A classic slice of British advertising history, though that hill's not as Northern as it looks...
Workforce of Parkgate Iron and Steel Co., Rotherham (1901)
Non-Fiction 1901 3 mins Silent Location: Rotherham
Edwardian workers react to the camera at one of Rotherham's major employers.
Workforce of Ormerod's Mill, Great Moor Street, Bolton (1900)
Non-Fiction 1900 1 mins Silent Location: Great Moor St, Bolton
Eager youngsters burst out of the gates of a Victorian cotton mill.
The Henley Regatta
Sport 1901 1 mins Silent Location: Henley-on-Thames
It's the first weekend of July 1901, and high society are on the Thames
Advert 1898 1 mins Silent Location: St Pancras
An unusual farewell in this charming early film
Non-Fiction 1900 1 mins
The magic of a real solar eclipse filmed by a famous magician
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