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.
This film is part of Free
Watching the days go by on the rivers Wear and Tyne in the 1950s.
From the collection of:
Along with Sunday strollers, an amateur filmmaker lets his imagination drift with the rich world of river life on the Wear at Sunderland and the briny, bracing air off Roker pier. A rusting hulk snuggles beneath towering cranes and one of the last steam paddle tugs on the Wear, Eppleton Hall, steers cargo ships into dock. Moving to the Tyne at dusk, The Empress of England ocean liner sails out on sea trials, a vestige of the romance of sea travel.
The “Eppie”, as it was affectionately known, had been guiding ships on the Wear since its launch in 1913 and worked the river until 1964 when a modern diesel fleet was introduced. The tugboat was rescued from a trip to the breaker’s yard in 1969 and adapted to sail to the USA where it was restored for the National Park Service Maritime Museum in San Francisco. It is now one of only two surviving British-built steam paddle tugs. The stylish Empress of England was built by Vickers-Armstrong at Newcastle for the Canadian Pacific Line. In her launch speech on 9 May 1956, Lady Eden, wife of the Prime Minister, recalled the role of the Empress class of ships carrying Canadian soldiers to Britain during World War Two.