Film ID:
NEFA 8769



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This film from the Billingham Film Unit Just Billingham cine magazine series shows ICI Billingham's dependency on local water supplies, with a look at the Tees Valley reservoirs.


ICI Billingham Division


Just Billingham 22

Credit: Produced by the Billingham Film Unit

Credit: Commentary Spoken by Frank Philips, Lionel Marson, Howard Marion-Crawford

Credit: Acknowledgement is made to the Tees Valley Water Board for information supplied and facilities provided during the making of this film

Title: “Waste Not …”

The film opens with a close-up shot of the River Tees.  The ship ‘Manfred’ is docked on the Tees. The commentary describes ICI’s dependence on water-born transport for its products. A panorama follows of ICI Billingham’s chemical works on the far bank of the river which includes warehouses, factories, and smoking chimneys.

A montage sequence of shots illustrate all the important Teesside uses of water as one of ICI’s four key raw materials: water flowing at a water board site; exterior and interior views of ICI Billingham’s boiler plant, hydrogen plant, sulphuric acid works, Drikold production, ammonium sulphate on a conveyer, nitro-chalk plant, a man loading bags of fertilizer on a lorry, cement production, a Fosters Plumbers Merchant lorry driving away from the plaster board plant with its load. The montage continues with a whimsical poetic commentary with shots of water flowing at the works, the two ICI cooling towers (“Gert and Daisie”), the machine shop, water being poured into lorry tank, the quenching of coke, a fireman putting out fire with a hose, a man washing his face, a man washing in a shower, glasses washed in a bar sink, a man hosing down his car, a lab worker rinsing out lab equipment, a nurse rinsing out a man’s eye, young ICI workers drinking cups of cocoa, a man on a locomotive engine, photographic prints washed in a rinsing bath, a women operating a laundry machine, a man washing windows, a cement mixer, woman baking, a man drinking down a pint of beer. All the while, a whimsical poetic commentary highlights public and domestic dependency on water. 

Shots of the Tees follow with river water flowing, a beck, and the industrial landscape of the River Tees at Billingham.  A rowing boat is moored beside a grassy bank on the River Tees upstream. Walkers stroll on the banks of the Tees with pet dogs heading towards a bridge and the village of Croft-on-Tees. Further shots of the rocky river, a bridge and weir, and Barnard Castle come into view. Next, the Tees cascades over Low Force near Middleton-in Teesdale. There’s a brief shot of the High Force Hotel and the dramatic waterfall of High Force. 

A sign reads ‘Cauldron Snout Track’ and Cowgreen Mine’. The Tees now wends its way from Cross Fell in the Pennines as a stream. A heap of stones marks the source of the river. Wind sweeps across the valleys and mountains. The dammed River Lune, a Tees tributary, forms a reservoir at Grassholme in Lunedale. Further east, the river Balderdale flows into Blackton reservoir. Below Blackton in the same valley, a third reservoir called the Hury.  A view of Blackton reservoir shows its bell-shaped mouth of an overflow down which surplus water flows. The camera pans rapidly to Hury reservoir where the surplus water collects. The weir and control bell system lies at the base of Hury dam where ‘compensation water’ is returned to the Balder.

Sheep graze beside the largest of the three reservoirs, Grassholme. The river Lune enters the reservoir at Selset weir. A water board worker consults a graph of water measurement. Water flows through a tunnel connecting two reservoirs. Surplus water from the Grassholme reservoir tumbles down a series of steps in the hillside and flows into the river. The steps are pictured in a dry period.

A man drives a horse-drawn cart through the picturesque village of Lartington. Sand filters lie on a hill above the village, through which all the water impounded in the catchment area passes. The next sequence illustrates the process, water arriving through underground pipelines and appearing in an open tank at a corner of the filtering plant, and flowing out to the filters as required. A man checks the instruments that record the output of each filter. He turns a wheel that empties a filter to enable cleaning. The top layer of fine sand is removed for washing. Men transfer the dirty sand into buckets, which are lifted by winch onto a ropeway which carries the dirty sand to the washing plant. A load is dumped from a metal bucket and Tees water is used to wash the sand. After washing, the men use the same method to return the filters. Men slowly spread the clean sand evenly over a filter bed as others wheel the sand into position. A man enters a control building where ICI Billingham-made ammonia and chlorine are added.

Next, the Broken Scar Water Treatment Works are pictured. Water lies in a large subsidence reservoir west of Darlington. Exterior and interior shots follow of the pumping station with huge beam engines installed during the Victorian era. A man greases the works.

Exterior and interior shots show the new pumping station a few miles away at Fighting Cocks. General views follow of the vast reservoirs at Long Newton.

Chemical factories at Billingham are pictured with workers biking to work through Haverton Hill.

An animated illustration of the Tees valley water usage and plans at Selset and Lartington is shown. More shots of the old water plant follow.

A steam train travels past the ICI Billingham works. Water flows into the Long Newton reservoir. The old pumping engines at Broken Scar continue to work. The sun sets on one of the reservoirs.

Credit: A Billingham Film

Title: The End