Film ID:
NEFA 12751



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This sponsored film by the Turners Film Unit for Sunderland Corporation's Transport Department documents the abandonment of the Sunderland tramway system in 1954 in favour of motorbuses. It details the planning and operations of the bus transport system, and its importance for local people and businesses in Sunderland and surrounding areas. The film features good footage of trams and new buses in operation; local industries of glass making, coal mining and ship building; and of people at leisure in local coastal resorts.

Title: County Borough of Sunderland Transport Department Presents

Title: Going Places (titles over a still of Wearmouth Bridge.)

Credit: Photographed by Turners Film Unit. Newcastle on Tyne.

Camera: F. B. Nicol A.R.P.S.

Credit: In Collaboration With Norman Morton, B. Com, M.I.R.T.E. General Manager & Engineer, Sunderland Corporation Transport

Title: Commentary Spoken By Lionel Marson

The film opens with an overhead shot of Fawcett Street and the Town Hall on the corner. The street is busy with cars, buses, trams and people. Next, there is a shot taken from a high viewpoint towards Burdon Road, with the corner of Mowbray Park on the right.

Tugboats are lined up in Sunderland harbour on the River Wear. A crowded industrial landscape is seen in the background. There are several general views of the port of Sunderland and the river’s shipbuilding industry. One includes a view towards Wearmouth Bridge.

The film cuts to a view of the North Sea coastline near Sunderland and the North Pier Lighthouse at the mouth of the River Wear. There is an elevated view of the beach at Roker, where people relax on the sands and play in the sea. Two people play in high waves. Great numbers of people lounge in deckchairs on Seaburn beach, looking towards the north and Whitburn.

A large crowd of men queue at a bus stop as they head off to work. The arches of a bridge can be seen in the background. Men with hard hats walk across a bridge at a colliery.

Next, there are various views of men and women shopping during leisure hours from work. The Sunderland streets are very busy. There are speeded up shots of the bustling shoppers on Fawcett Street. Men and women are crossing a zebra crossing and trams are travelling up the street. A green bus veers towards camera. The traffic includes motor vehicles, cyclists, and even a horse-drawn cart.

After the frantic shopping scenes, there is a shot of people relaxing in a park.

There is a sign for a hospital entrance. A black windowless ambulance van drives in through the hospital gates.

The film then cuts to views of an extremely crowded Roker beach scene.

Next, shots of large crowds of people on a street corner in Sunderland. A policeman directs traffic and pedestrians at a busy crossroads. Many buses pass by on the roads and people wait to cross.

There is a close-up of the Sunderland Corporation Coat of Arms, followed by a close-up of the side of a Sunderland green and cream Corporation bus with sign-painted coat of arms. Many different shots of the Sunderland Corporation buses travelling on the roads of Sunderland follow.

The next sequence depicts a history of public road transport in Sunderland with the introduction of the first electric trams in 1900, the gradual replacement of the trams by buses in the 1940s and 1950s, and the closure of the tram system, with the last tram running on 1st October 1954. A map shows the different territories served by Sunderland Corporation. The commentary explains the history of the bus and tram transport systems in Sunderland, and there are stills of historic black and white photographs that commemorate the trams. These are as follows: an original horse-drawn tram in 1875; an electric tram in 1900; a policeman and conductor pose by an electric tram bound for Villette Road; a line of trams with crowded open top decks stretches back along a road, with a crowd of mainly young boys in the foreground. A basic hand drawn map depicts the tram routes, followed by one of the bus routes in 1954. There are several scenes that show the red and white electric trams travelling along city routes. But in 1954 the trams are superseded by the introduction of new bus routes. The section closes with a shot of trams crossing the Wearmouth Bridge.

Footage in the next part of the film captures the work to remove the overhead electrical cables, posts and the tram tracks embedded in the road. There is a shot of a red and cream tram that is overtaken by a green corporation bus on the Wearmouth Bridge, as a metaphor for the closure of the tram system.

Interior shot of the bus depot with rows of new buses. Several general shots of the buses travelling along Sunderland streets follow. There is a close-up of a Tecalemeter to measure fuel consumption.

Title: Half-a-Million Gallons Per Year.

Close-up of piles of sealed rolls of bus tickets.

Title: 85,000,000 Tickets Per Year

Passengers stand at a bus stop.

The huge amount of lost property left on the Sunderland buses is displayed on tables, with a close-up of a pair of false teeth.

A close-up of piles of coins represents the fairs paid each year. An animated graph follows that calculates “Cost of Living Increased Nearly Four Times Since 1900” and “Compared with Bus Fares Increased Only 50% Since 1900.”

Crowds of people get onto buses.

A huge ship called the Morgenen is launched at the Laing shipyard in Sunderland on 27 September 1954. A woman steps down from the launching staircase, carrying a bunch of flowers, possibly a royal family member. The next sequence depicts the many ships under construction at Sunderland shipyards. Overhead shot of a docked ship. Men operate a marine engine, followed by many close-ups of the machine and parts of the machine in operation.

A giant power unit is tested on overload, supervised by specialists. The machine grinds to a halt at the end of the men’s work shift.

Crowds of workers leave the docks after a shift and race from a side street towards the bus stops that serve the shipyards, in order to secure a good place in the queues. There is a shot of the huge numbers of passengers that are boarding a bus.

The buses also serve the collieries. There is a general view of a colliery works, followed by an overhead shot of the trains transporting coal from the colliery. Miners walk across a bridge at the colliery.

Overhead shot of rows of terraced housing for workers. Workers are using the buses to get to work.

The next section covers the glass making industry in Sunderland. A man holds a gigantic glass-rectifying globe. There are interior shots of the glassworks factory. Close-ups capture the manufacture of scientific test tubes and glass blowing techniques, illustrating individual craftsmanship. There are several scenes, which show the process of glass production by craftsmen in the hot glass blowing studio of the factory. Men use long blowpipes, gather white-hot molten glass from the melting tank, and apply a puff of air to expand the plastic mass. Women inspect and finish the glass instruments. There are general shots of the rows of women employed to inspect the glass. Rows of ovenware await the inspection process. There are shots of the mammoth automatic production machines, which churn out popular articles by the thousands, possibly Pyrex ware. Dynamic shots record the process of mass production and the machines in operation. A man lifts completed glass bowls onto cushioned conveyor belts. There is a shot of a mass display of glass bowls. Two women with gloved hands examine the bowls for flaws.

Workers from the glass factory run to catch the bus. Buses transport the mass exodus of workers back home. A number 15 bus for Telford Road pulls into the bus station. Children play on the bus station railings as people board their bus. Children queue to board the school special.

The next section highlights the role of the corporation bus system in transporting people during leisure hours and trips to the coast. A shot of a Fawcett Street bus stop depicts the waiting mass crowds.

Interior shots of the bus depot that illustrate the planning and organisation of the transport operations.

The next shots depict the route of the Seaburn and Roker buses. There are interior and exterior shots of passengers. Crowds of day-trippers wait for the bus home. A woman conductor stops people boarding a crowded bus.

Shots of bus transport used for the spectators to Roker Park Football ground. Included are many shots of football matches at the stadium.

The film then details the servicing operations of the corporation buses. A bus is refuelled. A bus backs into a garage and a report is given to the inspector. Buses are serviced at the Corporation Repair depots. Front wheel alignment is checked with an optical gauge. Wheels are changed, brake drums removed, and the shoes that stop the bus are removed. Brake drums are replaced. Giant tyres are examined. The engine is overhauled. A pulley lifts the engine out of the bus. Specialist staff recondition engines and test their operation. There is a shot of a Fuel Pump Test Bench with a fuel injection pump at its side. Various parts of the machine are shown as they run through tests. Men examine all the bus parts including the chassis. The engine is lifted back into the bus by pulley. The bodies of the bus are stripped and brought up to standard. A man repaints the bus and a sign writer adds new corporation lettering and advertising slogans. A transfer of the corporation coat of arms is reapplied. Buses are moved through a high-pressure washer. A bus is driven over a garage pit, where of Ministry of Transport experts examine the under carriage.

Buses line up ready for the road. Members of the Transport Committee exit from a bus, having returned from their annual inspection.

An alarm clock reads 4:10am. Some of the staff arrive for the early shift on the buses. A man clocks in.

Conductors pay in at the cash office before finishing their shift. Staff eat and drink in the works canteen.

A clock reads 5 past midnight. Staff leave for home in the dark and board a bus home. Portrait shots of some uniformed conductors, drivers, and inspectors, including a smiling woman conductress.

A number 15 Corporation bus for the Docks heads into the distance.

End Credit: The End.