Film ID:
NEFA 19296



Visitor Tabs


Sponsored film that documents the construction of the Shell Refinery at Teesport, begun in 1964 by the contractors Press and Costain. The film contains detailed footage of construction work from reclamation of tidal mud flats near the mouth of the River Tees to the finished refinery. Includes many aerial shots of the site.

In the opening of the film, a sequence of shots of oil refinery work is followed by a shot of a group tanker (with a Shell-Mex and BP logo) driving away, revealing a view of Shell’s Teesport Refinery.

The film then cuts to shots of the Tees estuary with marshland and water bird populations and portrait shots of birdwatchers using cameras. A surveyor looks through a theodolite on tripod. A point of view shot over theodolite of the tidal mud flats near Greatham Creek or Seal Sands, and surveyor at work on the mudflats. There is a general view of the moors backing onto the estuary. Various shots follow of Teesside industries of steelworks, power stations and oil refinery plants that sprang up on the reclaimed land of the Tees River estuary.

Title: Landscape in Oils

Title: The Building of Teesport Refinery by Press and Costain (J.V.) Limited

Aerial flyover of reclaimed land for the site of the new oil refinery adjacent to Tees Dock on the south bank of the River Tees.

Various shots illustrate the reclamation work carried out by Costain’s dredging fleet, which pumps ashore material and pipes it over the land, filling the area of mud flats. A close-up of the dried ground follows. A bulldozer moves brass furnace slag up to 15 feet deep for access roads. Men shovel the slag towards a pile sinking machine for foundations, which create multiple columns of ballast underground. We now see a general view of ground preparation at the site.

Directors and engineers of Press and Costain look at design plans provided by Shell. A table top model of the Teesport Refinery rests on the table in front of the project manager. Planners prepare plans and target dates for construction. Shot of IBM 1440 computer in use. Technical staff are at work in offices. Meetings are held by Press Costain project staff. There are shots of a room size accurate scale model of the refinery.

The next sequence records the construction of the tankage with panoramic views of early stages of construction at two tank farms behind the river wall, with shots of a worker welding on top of the tanks, piling, excavation and deep foundation work in progress. Concrete is poured and levelled by men for foundations.

The camera pans across the labyrinth of foundations and supports for the process plant, furnaces and boiler. The camera tilts up the chimney stack 400 feet high for dispersal of poisonous gases.

By the River Tees, downstream from Tees Dock the jetty construction is underway. Concrete and steel caisson sections are launched into the river and floated.

Various shots follow workers constructing timber framework on concrete foundations as bases for the cooling tower, and a general view of the honeycomb cooling slats erected. The first of many steel joints and purlins are in place forming an abstract design. There is a general view of the structural framework for the start of plant construction.

An aerial view of the layout of the modern refinery.

Workers guide the crane hoisted pipes for the crude and refined products, weld joints, and work on the pipes in the trenches, and bitumen is poured on the pipes.

At the exterior central stores area, trucks deliver supplies, with many shots of pre-fabricated roof frames, steel reinforcement and trunking, a mass of mechanical and electrical equipment, all stockpiled for classification, storage and re-issue to erectors. There are close-ups of the huge quantity of indoor stored items such as fuses and safes.

Shots of workers in the site test shop for control equipment, site fabrication shops with areas for controlled welding, where men in visors work on steel components.

Men work inside the off-site Darlington workshops for the hot bending and shaping of large diameter welded pipes. Two men check measurements of the pipes.

A ship is moored at Tees Dock. Large refinery components are delivered by sea and hoisted onto the dockside. Once on land, heavy haulage specialist vehicles transport the equipment to site.

At the construction site, the mechanical engineering part of construction work begins. Special high lift cranes manoeuvre giant steel columns into place, with panoramic shots of work on site.

An overseer in bowler hat beside a giant refinery column at the platformer unit looks briefly at camera.

The film cuts to the riverside at Stockton, where a gigantic 130 ton main column slides into the river, observed by a surveyor on a wooden platform and men in rowing boats. The camera zooms back for a wider shot of the column sliding down the manufacturer’s slipway into the river, with riverfront buildings in the background.

There is a shot of the river 8 miles downstream at Teesport. A tugboat tows the floating column down the river, with a background view of industrial landscape on the far bank.

Shots of the tall cylindrical columns of the refinery and the dominating reinforced concrete chimney that towers over the site. The camera zooms in on the top of the tower where construction is still in progress. A succinctly framed shot of two workers balancing precariously on wooden scaffold supports is next. As the men synchronise an elaborate operation of winch levers at the top of the tower a view of the oil refinery site can be seen far below.

From the ground, there are expansive shots of the progress of construction of spheres for storage of liquid butane and other facets of architectural development. Rectangular units are moved slowly by cranes, and then lowered onto the concrete tables within the furnace area.

A sequence of shots records the installation of refractory linings and rows of cube elements in the convection banks. Inside the refractory, bricklayers are at work laying the lining.

Exterior shots of men climbing on the exterior of the refractory unit ensue with a general view of the refinery buildings in place thus far, following.

Men fix crane hoists and cables to another giant component, the last reactor for the platformer unit. There are various action shots of the refractor manoeuvred into place in the process area complex.

The next sequence of shots documents the installation of boilers and forced draft fan coolers.

Panoramic shots of the oil refinery landscape are intercut with aerial shots of the vast site next to the River Tees.

Three engineers in hard hats walk into the Press & Costain site office. Negotiations and demonstrations of operations take place inside the offices amongst management and trade unions.

Two nurses apply a bandage to a worker on site. A (humorous?) shot of wooden stakes in the shape of a cross topped by a hard hat outside the offices draws a wry comment.

Several high angle shots of the refinery follow, including the sphere for butane storage and an electricity mast. The camera pans across an electricity board substation linked to the site. Men lay electrical cables.

Two engineers consult the scale model of the refinery.

Off site, women are soldering electrical circuit boards and other instruments. A man slots in a component to a control instrument panel. A large console or panel of groups of instruments are winched into a control room at a site process plant. There is a shot of the interior of a control centre with a long bank of control panels installed. There are close-ups of computers and shots of men operating them.

General views of site workers and of the plant taking shape are next. Men use steam tracing for heating the pipes and cells to ease the flow of heavy liquids. Men insulate the pipes with rigid foam sections and cover them in aluminium.

Next, there are aerial shots directly above the refinery and a low angle shot of the chimney. Components are winched onto the 200 foot flare stack. Panning across the site, the camera zooms in on a group of Shell engineers inspecting the site. There are shots of the electricians at work fixing circuits to the building and pumps. Electricians are working on different tasks throughout the refinery.

A man rollers paint onto a pipeline. Other painters are working on the building exteriors.

The construction of access roads using bitumen is recorded.

On completion, a construction engineer signs a paper to hand over to the commissioning engineers.

Aerial shots of the completed Teesport refinery. A group of Press and Costain site engineers inspect the new refinery. The camera pans from the chimney stack to a ground level shot of the refinery works. At the end of work, the site offices are dismantled and construction equipment is driven away.

There are shots of the refinery location next to the Tees mouth, day and night shots of the Tees port docks with cargo ships and tankers unloading for the refinery. The marine loading arms feature in one particular shot.

Men inspect the computerised data in the control room and others are seated at the panels operating controls, and issuing instructions at a microphone.

A sequence of shots depicts the different units with commentary describing the product handled. A man drives away in a Shell-Mex tanker.

The commentary states “Like nature, the refinery never sleeps.” The film closes with various shots of the refinery at night.

End Credits:
Produced for Press and Costain (J.V.) Limited
By Turners Film Productions. Newcastle-upon-Tyne. England
Photography: Gordon Richards. Bryan Copplestone
Script: John Grant
Production: Mike Harvey. David Middleton. Terry Hoey
In charge of production: Brian Nicol

Credit: We acknowledge with thanks the co-operation of Shell U.K. Limited during the making of this film.