Film ID:
YFA 1454



Visitor Tabs


This documentary follows the Hull trawler 'Scottish' fishing near Bear Island in the Barents Sea. The trawler crew are shown leaving home, hauling in the catch and processing the fish, including extracting the liver oil from the cod. The catch is unloaded in Hull and the fish and oil are transported to their destinations. The cod liver oil is shown being bottled in the SouthSeas factory and given to small children in a nursery.

The film opens on a view of the sea, with the narrator noting the role of the sea in providing food. A line of trawler ships are docked at Hull. One of them is the Cayrian of Grimsby. A group of out of work fisherman are stood by the dockside. The commentary explains that there were many unemployed fishermen in the late 1930s. Others stand outside the Employment Exchange, and they queue to get work at the dock where a man ushers them in through a gate, stopping them once they have enough workers. A headline from the Sunday Pictorial is flashes up, relating to the declaration of entry into the Second World War. Riveters are shown at work on a trawler being converted for war use.

A group of trawlers being used as escort ships and minesweepers are shown out at sea. One of them lowers a bomb into the water, presumably for German submarines. The film then shows the victory parade in London in 1945. After the war the trawlers were converted back, and the film shows a new trawler being built. Jack Billings, the chief engineer of the featured trawler, is shown leaving his terraced home, followed by 'Sparks' the wireless operator leaving a pub, Willie Stevens, the spare hand, saying goodbye to his wife and small daughter, and lastly the skipper. Another fisherman is also shown saying goodbye to his family.

Back at the docks lines of trawlers are waiting to set sail. The skipper arrives at the dock by car as the gates are opened onto the Humber and he climbs aboard his ship, the 'Scottish'. He gives the command to let go of the mooring lines and they make their way out as the swing bridge opens. Fisherman look on from the dock as the ship, now renamed Kingston Pearl (H. 542), makes its way out to sea. A map shows the journey taken by the trawlers out towards the Arctic Ocean. As they approach the fishing grounds fishermen prepare the trawl nets. They make their way as far as Bear Island, where the Captain barks out his orders for the nets to be hauled over the side. The film shows the engine room, the coal furnace and the winders. The trawler is followed by flocks of gulls. Underneath the sea the net is shown stretched out sweeping the floor. The cod are being funnelled into the end.

The fishermen heave the net on board and sling the fish out of the way ready for the next catch. The fish are then gutted, beheaded and cleaned, and stored in ice below. The livers get swept into baskets. Two fishermen throw some of the livers over the side for the gulls, whilst the rest gets processed to extract the oil. The ship, referred to as the 'Scottish', communicates with the harbour by radio. The sun goes down. More catches are hauled aboard the following day. Now full, the skipper signals to the other ships that it is ready to return. The fishermen relax on deck.

The trawlers return to Hull docks at night. In the morning they are unloaded by the slingers and bobbers. The skipper goes to see one of the Port's managers who tells him how much he has landed. The load is then carted off in boxes and then by train, arriving in Billingsgate Market, London. The narrator notes that 2 ? million people can be supplied with a meal from this one catch. The oil is transferred to tank wagons (SevenSeas) and taken to a factory where it is bottled by women on an assembly line and packaged - some branded, some unbranded. In a nursery the children are given cod liver oil, under a scheme run by the Ministry of Food. One small child picks up the bottle and pours himself some more! Two women also take cod liver oil tablets.

The film returns to the docks and the men unloading the catch, with the baskets being swung backwards and forwards between the ship and the dock. The film ends up where it began, on a dock looking out to sea as the sun goes down.

A documentary film made with the co-operation of the Proprietors of SevenSeas cod liver oil.
The End
A Gaumont Specialised Film Unit Production
Western Electric Recording