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Shipbuilding by Gemma Starkey and Poppy Simpson
Introduction Shipbuilding on Film Seawards... The Making of Launch    

From the very early days of film, the construction and launch of ships has presented filmmakers with an extraordinary spectacle for their cameras. From recording the crucial moment that a huge ship glides into the water for the first time and capturing the booming era of shipbuilding in Britain through its workers and the scale of their achievements, to documenting the industry's decline and its cost in human disillusionment, shipyard films tell a fascinating tale of our recent industrial past.

This tour aims to take you on an illuminating journey through the film record of this majestic industry. The first section, 'Shipbuilding on Screen', puts into context a selection of the films now available to watch on Screenonline and on the BFI's DVD Tales from the Shipyard. Next, our two short videos look in more detail at the making of two very different shipbuilding films. In the first, Janet McBain, curator at the Scottish Screen Archive, provides an insightful commentary on the Oscar-winning documentary Seawards the Great Ships from 1960. In 'The Making of Launch (1974)', we take one of the film's directors back to the dockland graveyards of Wallsend, North Tyneside where the film was shot. The resulting short offers a poignant reminder of how much the industrial landscape has changed in just under 40 years.

Shipbuilding films have a wide educational application, enabling students to work with primary source material to learn about past events and analyse how they've been represented, as well as encouraging creative writing and media literacy. This tour has been designed for students to explore independently as well as for use in the Secondary classroom. Follow the education links at the side of each page to see how you can start applying some of the material highlighted in each section.

Find your way around the tour using the tabs at the top of the page.

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Launch of H.M.S. Lowestoft (1913)

Topical Budget: Launch of H.M.S. Lowestoft (1913)