Film ID:
NEFA 20901



Visitor Tabs


A record of the working life and industrial landscape of ICI's Billingham Wharf, and the official opening on October 15th 1935 of the Coal Hydrogenation Petrol Plant of ICI Billingham, by former National Labour Party Prime Minister, M.P. James Ramsay MacDonald.

The film opens with a panoramic view of steam and smoke billowing from ICI factories.

A crane hoists a load of white powder, (probably an ammonia compound) out of a ship's hull, some of it spilling over the sides and being blown by the wind.  A single worker in a flat cap and coat walks along the dockside at Billingham Wharf during the loading.

A man in a harness hangs from the top of a ship mast to clean it. The steamer ship Guernica sails into the wharf, thick smoke belching from factory chimneys. A steam tug manoeuvres the ship in the dock. Two men row to the quay side towing a cable or rope attached to the steam ship’s bow.

A fly wheel spins at high speed on a ship’s deck; a line is lowered by rope. Two blacksmiths work in tandem hammering a strip of hot iron. A man joins them in the next shot to work the bellows and stoke the fire.

The Gastelu is moored at the dockside. A crane is lowered into a ship’s hull, and a team of men push a barrow laden with sacks along the wharf.

The next sequence documents the visit and official opening by James. Ramsay MacDonald, M.P., of the Coal Hydrogenation Petrol Plant, Billingham, on October 15th, 1935

Group portrait of James Ramsay MacDonald with five other men in fedora hats and a bowler, including Lord McGowan, Chairman and Managing Director of ICI, and Kenneth Gordon, a key technician and later ICI Managing Director.

Three workers level out a ship load of ammonia compound using shovels.

Ramsay MacDonald, ICI senior managers and other invited guests travel by electric buggy into the Coal Hydrogenation Petrol Plant, Billingham, for the official opening. Ramsay MacDonald presses a button that launches automatic machinery at the plant. Tons of coal is tipped from a large container.

Ramsay MacDonald and other guests, including two women, get back into the electric buggy, smiling at the camera. The electric buggy moves off along a road at the Petrol Plant.  Slow traveling shot through the plant.  General view of the electric buggy arriving at another part of the plant.  The group go on a walkabout to see different parts of the plant.  Portrait shot of Ramsay MacDonald watching the process in action (off screen).  The group continue to walk around the plant, as the process is explained to them.