HUMBER HIGHWAY (1956) film no: 3108
This is a documentary made by Betty and Cyril Ramsden which chronicles the places, activities, and life around the Humber estuary. The film includes lengthy intertitles that explain some of the important facts about the areas in which they filmed.
The film opens with a map of the East Riding. It is followed by the intertitles: One of the major shipping lanes in England is the River Humber. Spurn Point is connected by a peninsula which is constantly threatened by erosion and is the nerve centre. Though serviced now by a road the remains of the old railway line are still visible. The lifeboat station, lighthouse and the coastguard station, where all shipping entering or leaving the Humber is logged keep a constant watch. Lately a sea rescue helicopter service doing a regular patrol has been instituted. The army still preserves the installations erected during the last war.
There is a small road that goes along Spurn Point. The car drives the entire length of the road to the lighthouse at the end. Along the way, there is a sign that reads ‘Danger Minefield Keep Out or Be Killed’. Only the lighthouse, coastguard, and few remaining buildings are left in this once inhabited area. Out at sea and on the shipping lanes, large ships and trawlers sail up and down. A coast guard looks out with his binoculars and then makes a report on the telephone. An emergency helicopter takes off and hovers above the sea.
Title – The banks of the river are raised above the level of the land to prevent flooding and erosion. To ensure drainage the countryside is honeycombed with dykes that lead to automatic sluice gates actuated by the pressure of the water.
Back along the point to Stone Creek, a small canal leads off from the small village. In front of it is a sandy bay where small boats are lodged in the sand whilst the tide is out.
Title – Paull. Over 300 years ago ships were constructed here for the Royal Navy. This small shipyard carries on the tradition building and repairing craft up to seventy feet in length.
Repairs to the boats are carried out at the dock. Without any protective clothing, some men are welding parts on a ship. One man has a large burn in the back of his leather waistcoat. An interior scene shows a workshop. The forge is lit, and the flames glow in the dark. Men take out the metal and hammer it into shape. These pieces of metal are known as the ‘ribs’ of the ship.
Title – An automatic oxy-acetylene cutter capable of cutting through steel plates up to two inches thick.
One of the boat builders shows how the cutter works.
Title – Hull Ships from the Seven Sea berth at the docks in Hull. At the Alexandra Docks cargoes of timber and other goods are handled.
In Hull, other parts of the dock are shown. Large boats from all over the world come into the docks, and cranes help to unload their cargo onto the dock bay. Two men are painting a boat; a Russian ship is behind them. Then a queue of vessels waits to depart, waiting at a lock for high tide. Tugs then pull them out into the open sea. Other ships then enter the area to unload their cargo. The film closes with more views of the busy docks showing the sailors on their boats. Some are relaxing, and washing is hung out across the boats behind them.
Humber Highway was made by a husband and wife film team of filmmakers from Leeds, Betty and Cyril Ramsden. They began making films in 1945 and continued into the mid 1960s. During this time they made over 50 films, mostly in high quality 16mm film and in colour. Their collection of films was donated to the YFA in the spring of 2006. It is an outstanding collection: by virtue of its remarkable technical quality, composition and broad subject matter. As well as family and holiday films, there are a wide range of documentary type films and some fictional films done with a light humour. Their film collection was made the subject of a BBC/Open University television programme, Nation on Film, made in 2006, narrated by Sir David Jason.