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Visit of Their Majesties to North-East Coast Shipbuilding Works (1917)


Main image of Visit of Their Majesties to North-East Coast Shipbuilding Works (1917)
Visit of Their Majesties the King and Queen to the North-East Coast Ship-building and Engineering Works on the Wear
35mm, black and white, silent, 570 feet
Production CompanyGaumont Company

King George V and Queen Mary visit shipyards in Sunderland and talk to shipbuilders.

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King George V and Queen Mary visited the dry docks of the North East of England in June 1917, with a group of local dignitaries and military officers. The King wears his naval uniform, but most of the workers, including female munitions workers, are in their regular work clothes, gathered in crowds, or climbing on nearby apparatus for a better view, and in only a few instances are workers lined up in an orderly manner to greet the King and Queen. The visit was clearly intended to be as informal as possible, and in these late years of the Great War, was a morale booster for the exhausted shipyard workers.

There is little apparent crowd control; the Royal couple look unconcerned, but one of their entourage can be seen using his cane and a stern glance to direct one enthusiastic young lad away from the Queen in an early shot, whilst once or twice, senior figures gesticulating in the direction of the camera provide a tantalising hint at the commotion that might be occurring behind it.

Photographers and reporters, some of them perhaps the additional cameramen from the Gaumont team (this record of the visit, which took place over two or perhaps three days, was almost certainly captured by multiple cameras), are often seen running ahead of the visiting party.

Shona Barrett

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Tales from the Shipyard', with piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (12:35)
Excerpt (2:06)
Shipbuilding on Film - The Early Years
Tales from the Shipyard