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Turn of the Tide (1967)

Courtesy of Liverpool City Council

Main image of Turn of the Tide (1967)
35mm, colour, 20 mins
DirectorA.W. Oakes
Production CompanyCinechrome
SponsorLiverpool City Corporation
ProducerB.K. Campbell

Commentator: Raymond Baxter

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How the city of Liverpool has grown to become an industrial and commercial centre.

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Turn of the Tide is one of a trilogy of films commissioned by the City of Liverpool's Public Relations Office in 1966. The three films - Turn of the Tide, Liverpool Sounding and Rates for the Job - were intended to promote Liverpool as a vibrant, energetic and forward-thinking city in order to encourage investment as well as to inform Liverpool's citizens exactly what they received in exchange for their rates. Turn of the Tide looked at the city's industry and commerce, while Liverpool Sounding focussed on art, culture and leisure, and Rates for the Job examined public services. All three films were made by 'outsiders,' as the council felt that this would bring a fresh perspective on life in the city.

At the time this film was made, Liverpool was experiencing a period of growth and great prosperity - Liverpool docks had dealt with an all-time record of 28.25 million tonnes of cargo in 1964/65 and the Liverpool Docks and Harbour Board was pursuing £36 million investment to upgrade and improve them. Numerous manufacturing companies had moved to areas such as Speke and Aintree. Ford had opened a £50 million assembly plant at Halewood in the early 1960s and another motor manufacturer, Standard-Triumph, had set up in Speke. Pharmaceutical companies, food and drinks manufacturers, engineering firms and others had all moved into Liverpool, and by the mid-1960s manufacturing was the biggest employment sector in the city, with unemployment falling to around 5%.

The optimism of the time is reflected in this film, with narrator Raymond Baxter - well-known as presenter of the BBC's similarly forward-looking Tomorrow's World (1965-2006) - asserting that "the future belongs to Liverpool, and it is planning for that future on a massive scale."

Sadly, this optimism was misplaced, as only a few years after the film was made, Liverpool's fortunes reversed. Following Britain joining the Common Market, trade with the Commonwealth fell into decline as trade with Europe increased - Liverpool's geographical location meant it was ill-placed to adapt to these changes, and through the 1970s and '80s the city's fortunes spiralled downwards, with numerous companies abandoning the city and widespread redundancies and strikes. This, coupled with the rise of the militant left in local politics, led to the city becoming one of Europe's most deprived areas by the end of the 1980s.

Nick Gladden

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Video Clips
Complete film (18:34)
Liverpool Sounding (1967)
Rates For The Job (1967)
Liverpool: Made in Liverpool