Film ID:
NEFA 21248



Visitor Tabs


A Turners Film Unit production sponsored by William Gray showing the launch of the cargo ship Cristallina at William Gray's yard, West Hartlepool, on 15 February 1949, only a few years after World War Two. A second part follows the fitting out at Gray's Central Marine Engine Works of an engine for the cargo ship Carona, launched in 1948.

The opening shot shows the cargo ship Cristallina in berth ready for the ceremonial ship launch.  The Swiss cross flag flies next to the Union Jack at the yard. Two men in bowler hats examine the huge propellor on the stern of the ship. Four young apprentice shipyard workers are happily knocking out the chocks before the launch. Closer shot of the two flags on flagpoles, a “Welcome Back” sign in between.

Two men including William Gray’s owner chat to a toothy young woman in a headscarf, who is smiling broadly, all three noticing they are being filmed. She hands the traditional bouquet of flowers to the wife of the Swiss shipping company sponsor who is wearing a fur coat. A crowd of young boys are waiting on a gangway. The launch party make their way through the yard and climb a gangway to the launch platform. The ship owners and head of William Gray’s shipyard pose for photos, the woman holding the bottle. The guests gather around. Shipyard workers and families are also gathered beside the berth to witness the launch. Children climb among wooden planks at the berth. The launch party pose for more photographs.

Young boys of various ages have climbed on the berth scaffolding for a good view, smiling cheekily at camera.

The big crowd of guests on the launch platform pose for a group portrait in front of the looming bow of the ship, the Swiss flag nearby, fluttering in the wind. A more distant shot documents some of the shipyard workers sitting precariously on planks on the berth scaffolding.

The launch party guests continue to mill around. Finally, the distinguished guest takes hold of the sacrificial bottle of champagne, encased in a cloth bearing the Swiss flag. A gang of young lads in school uniforms clamber over to the berth to get a good view. She swings the bottle at the bow of the ship. The Cristallina sits in its berth. The distinguished guests look on. The young school boys watch in a group. Back on the launch platform, the woman now presses a button to launch the Cristallina, which now moves down the slipway swiftly into the central dock. Different views show its passage along the slipway, steam tugs arriving to tow it to the fitting-out yard. The distinguished guests are excited by the launch. Steam tugs help to manoeuvre the ship and steady its position on the river.

The Cristallina now sits next to the Carona in the fitting-out dock. Overhead shots record the deck equipment. Shipyard workers continue with the fitting-out of the ships.

General view of the giant Central Marine Engine Works crane in West Hartlepool, the sign on its jib. Shipyard workers prepare one of the large engines to be hoisted by crane. They attach steel ropes to lifting points on the engine. The engine is slowly lifted and lowered into position inside the 'Carona'. A worker balances precariously on top of the mast. Another worker is climbing up. The worker perched on the mast is attaching ropes. Painters apply paint to the stern of the ship.

Travelling shot from a boat approaching the ships docked  at the Central Marine Engine Works across sun-glistening water. Smoke belches from the funnel of a tug boat. The Captain operates the telegraph unit and workers are pictured in the engine room operating levers and dials. The ship is in ‘full ahead’ mode. The Carona sails off on its sea trials, a tug boat nearby. Various shots follow of the slipstream as it sails out to sea.

[Dark sequence]  A group of men raise a toast and swig back drinks. Speeches follow.

A photographer directs a group of senior officers on the deck of the Carona as he takes a group portrait. An ensign is raised on the ship and the ceremony is photographed.