Film ID:
NEFA 8770

JUST BILLINGHAM NO. 24

1949

Visitor Tabs

Description

ICI Billingham Fim Unit cine magazine that includes three short films.  The first feature records traffic turmoil at the East Gate to the Billingham ICI industrial plant, with comic warnings about road safety. "End of a Process" documents the final days of the Castner process of metal sodium production at ICI’s Cassel Works in Billingham.  “Summer Outing” records an annual day trip to Scarborough for retired workers of ICI, organised by the company.

Credit: ICI Billingham Division Presents

Ttile: Just Billingham Number 24

Credit: Produced by the Billingham Film Unit

Credit: Commentary Spoken By Frank Philips

Credit: Sound Recording by United Motion Pictures

The first feature is a comic look at road safety, filmed shortly before access road improvements to the East Gate of the ICI Billingham works, on Haverton Hill Road.  A fleet of Corporation double-decker buses, trucks, cyclists and workers on foot amass at the end of the day shift at the East Gate exit.  A policeman stands on the pavement, occasionally waving on vehicles.

High angle view of the busy road, workers leaving on bicycle and workers on foot strolling across the road in between the traffic, one of the ICI cooling towers visible in the background.

A man strolls up the road on the pavement, immersed in reading a newspaper and taking no notice of the traffic.  Heavy trucks pass by on the road. A rapid montage of heavy traffic follows with cyclists and pedestrians weaving in and out of vehicles in a dangerous manner. Traveling shots from a car record ICI workers crossing the road in front, without a concern for safety.

In the next scene the traffic policeman directs cyclists and pedestrians safely across the road.  Close-ups of a succession of workers crossing follow.  The final shot is a close-up of a double-decker bus halting just in front of the camera.

Title: End of a Process

This short film records the final days of the Castner process of metal sodium production at ICI’s Cassel Works of the General Chemicals Division at Billingham. The pioneer American industrial chemist Hamilton Young Castner devised a new process for manufacturing sodium by the electrolysis of brine in a rocking cell, as mentioned in the commentary.  This same process operated successfully at the Cassel Works from April 1930 until it finally shut down in 1952.

Workers in special full-body protective suits and face masks tend rows of electrolyte pots, known as cells, flames and explosions emitting from the cells, which crackle alarmingly.

A worker pours molten electrolyte into a cell. The nickel anode, insulated by asbestos, is lowered into position. Some of the workers appear to be dismantling the cells.

A tank of electrolyte is pushed into position.  Black liquid flows into a cell. One of the chemical workers stirs the fiery mixture.

Remaining sodium is bailed out by hand.  One of the chemical workers spoons out the substance with a metal ladle.

Close-up of a dredger mechanism, as designed at the Castner works in Wallsend.  Close-up of the metal linked chain operating.

Molten sodium drips into a mould.  The full moulds are transported away on a rail bogey and then laid to cool on casting tables. 15lb solid blocks of sodium are knocked out of the moulds.  A worker tops up one of the cells with some extra electrolyte or molten caustic soda.

 A line of workers in protective clothing walk ceremonially past the production line of cells to illustrate the end of the last shift. One of the chemical workers rams a metal pole into a cell to extinguish the flames.

Interior shots of the empty factory workshops with the now empty and dismantled rows of cells, recording the end of this old style Castner process, now to be replaced by a modern “better-equipped and more efficient” factory.

Workers finish their last shift and remove their protective clothing and face masks. They leave the old factory building for the last time. 

Exterior shots follow of, first, the old factory building, followed by the new ICI Billingham Cassel Works. The film then records the gleaming interiors of the new chemical plant, with large scale pipes, conduits and valves.  The final shot is of the exterior of the new Cassel factory.

Title: Summer Outing

Two hundred retired ICI Billingham employees are embarking on a day out to Scarborough.  A group of people gather beside a tree on a green, possibly in Billingham.  Coaches advertising the firm Wilkinsons of Sedgefield are parked along the road waiting.  People begin to get on board.  A few young women wave off the coaches, a pram beside one of the grass areas awaiting one of the mothers.

Traveling shot from the “moors road” across the North Yorkshire Moors as the coach passes through villages and rural landscape.  A works councillor consults his list of passengers inside the coach.  The coaches make their way along a winding road high up in the hills of the moors, travelling through villages en route. 

The coaches make their way down a steep road towards Scarborough, the coastline in the distance. Traveling shot of a roundabout on the way to the sea front in Scarborough, moving down Bland’s Cliff onto Foreshore Road, with a view of the south bay and harbour.  The coaches are parked up in front of the Grand Hotel on Foreshore Road.  A general view follows of the busy beach in the south bay, the promenade on Foreshore Road and Scarborough Castle on a rocky promontory overlooking the North Sea in the background.  People are paddling in the sea and sail towards shore in a power boat.

The retired ICI Billingham employees are first served lunch in a large dining room.  An ICI works councillor then hands out “5 bob” to some of the ICI party as pocket money for their visit. 

Down by the crowded harbour area, people depart on boat trips.  The beach is packed with tourists.  A deck chair attendant hands out deck chairs.  People relax on deck chairs on the beach in the sun.  A group of one man and several women with dresses tucked into their nickers enjoy a ball game on the beach.  People slide down a Helter Skelter at Scarborough Funfair near Marine Drive.  Close-up of the sign for the Hall of Laughter.  Women buy seafood from an outdoor stall.

Three elderly men in suits and trilby hats chat and laugh on the promenade, the beach and Scarborough Castle in the backdrop.  A humorous mock conversation about “interesting sights” and a wolf whistle accompanies shots of sunbathers on Scarborough sands, mostly women in swimsuits.  A row of older people are sunning themselves on deckchairs on the promenade, a man wearing a knotted handkerchief to protect from the sun.  A pleasure boat trip returns to the harbour.  People browse a stall selling seafood, kippers, crabs and lobster advertised. 

The ICI Billingham visitors enjoy a spot of tea back in a dining room.  The coach drivers gather to prepare for the journey back home.

The commentary explains that the outing was from a trip to Scarborough ten years previously.  Shots follow inside the coaches during a more recent trip to Whitley Bay, enjoyed by 2,000 retired employees.  The pensioners enjoy a sing-song on the coach.  One woman has a pet black poodle seated next to her on the coach.  Traveling shot from a coach of a “Bass for Men” advertisement on a roadside billboard.  Hundreds of people walk from the parked coaches on one of the ICI Billingham trips.  Groups of the day trippers walk along a street in Whitley Bay. 

The scene then cuts to ICI Billingham workers leaving on foot and cycling at the West Gate of the Billingham site at the end of their shift.  The commentary announces that funds are in short supply due to the increasing numbers and will require a penny a week to maintain the holiday fund.

ICI councillors are handed envelopes of documents about the works trips. 

Final shots of elderly men and women enjoying themselves on the trip to Whitley Bay and singing “Jerusalem” on the coach trip home.

End titles [over shot of waves lapping on a beach]:

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