Over the course of the 20th century, shipbuilding was the focus of many photography and film project, including feature films, trade documentaries aimed at promoting the industry, and campaing films that tried to save the shipyards from closure. Here we have included links to some films and photography projects that are available online.
This essay by historican Hugh Murphy gives a contextual overview of British shipbuilding and film.
British Shipbuilding on Film is an extensive collection of films from around the UK. Some are available to watch free. The collection has also been curated into the DVD collection Tales from the Shipyard that can be odered from the BFI website.
Located at Teeside University, NEFA has an extensive collection of archival films, including professional and amateur footage.
Tyneside Story (1944) is a dramatisation of the re-opening of Tyneside shipyards at the start of the Second World War after being closed during the depression.
A Ship There Was (1952) is a docu-drama produced for the National Savings Committee. It tells the fictional story of a shipyard worker who is convinced to give up his own dreams to use his savings for his son's education. The film includes footage of the Ocean Monarch, built at Vickers Armstrong in Newcastle, 1951.
Four launch films are available to watch online, made between 1957 to 1966, each commissioned as promotional material. As well as giving a sense of the buzz and excitement of a launch, they give an insight into the way the events were organised, with a clear social division between workers and ship owners.
Full Ahead (1965) is a promotional film about the modernised Austin & Pickergill ship 'factory' in Southwick, Sunderland.
River Work (1975) is an 'impressionistic record from dawn till dusk of the sights and sounds of working life on the River Tees', made by students at Teesside College of Art.
Amber is a Newcastle-based film and photographys collective that has been documenting the lives of working people in the North East of England since the late 1960s. They have a permanent exhibition space at Side Gallery, Side Street, Newcastle, which includes desktop computers to view the digital archive.
Three of their films may be of particular interest:
Amber also has some important photograph collections.
TWAM has digitised many of their archival photographs and made them available through photo-sharing site Flickr. The full list of albums is available here.