Tales from the Shipyard

Britain’s shipbuilding heritage on film, from celebrated documentaries to lesser-known gems.

From scenes of jubilant workers celebrating spectacular launches in the early 1900s to King George V and Queen Mary’s morale-boosting trip to Northern England’s shipyards at the tail end of the Great War; from Sean Connery’s perspective on Glasgow’s industrial relations in The Bowler and the Bunnet (1967) – which he also directed – to lyrical documentaries in celebration of industrial might such as Shipyard (Paul Rotha, 1935) and the Oscar-winning Seawards the Great Ships (Hilary Harris, 1960), this collection celebrates Britain’s shipbuilding heritage through celebrated documentaries, lesser-known cinematic gems and emotive actuality films.

The early silent films on this set feature newly-commissioned, semi-improvised piano scores by the celebrated silent film pianist, Stephen Horne.

This DVD is the second of the BFI’s series celebrating Britain’s industrial heritage, following Portrait of a Miner: National Coal Board Collection Volume 1.

Disc one

  • The Launch of HMS Albion at Blackwall (1898)
  • Employees Leaving Messrs Vickers and Maxim’s in Barrow (1901)
  • Workforce of Scott & Co. Shipyard, Greenock (1901)
  • The Launch of HMS Dominion (1903)
  • King Edward VII Launches HMS Dreadnought from Portsmouth Dockyard (1906)
  • SS Olympic (1910)
  • The Launch of HMS Lowestoft (1913)
  • Visit of Their Majesties the King and Queen to the North-East Coast Shipbuilding and Engineering Works on the Wear (1917)
  • RMS Queen Mary Leaves the Clyde (1936)
  • Shipyard (1935)
  • Chains (1939)
  • Tyneside (1941)
  • Steel Goes to Sea (1941)
  • The Little Ships of England (1943)
  • ‘Shipyard for Colliers’ from Mining Review 2nd Year No.3 (1948)
  • Berth 24 (1950)

Disc two

  • We’ve Come a Long Way (1951)
  • The Sea Shall Test Her (1954)
  • Seawards the Great Ships (1960)
  • A Great Ship (1962)
  • The Bowler and the Bunnet (1967)
  • UCS 1 (1971)
  • Launch (1974)

Special features

  • New piano scores by Stephen Horne for the silent films.
  • Interview with Sean Connery (1967, 10 min extract): Sean Connery discusses his views on labour relations, after making The Bowler and the Bunnet.
  • Fully illustrated booklet with new essays and notes on all of the films, with contributions from BFI curators, Sir Sean Connery, and others.

Product information

    • Certificate


    • Colour

      Colour and Black/white

    • Sound


    • Running time


    • Original aspect ratio


    • DVD region

      • 2 Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories

    • Catalogue number


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