Film ID: NEFA 21050 Video of NEFA 21050 Launch of the HMS Exeter LAUNCH OF THE HMS EXETER, NEPTUNE YARD, 17.15 TUESDAY 25TH APRIL, 1978 1978 Visitor TabsDescription A film produced by Turners Film Productions showing the launching of the HMS Exeter from the Neptune Yard of Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd at Walker-on-Tyne on the 28th April 1978. Sponsor is Mrs Joan Mulley wife of the Rt. Hon. Frederick William Mulley, Secretary of State for Defence. Large numbers of guests and dignitaries attend, including representatives from the Royal Navy. Title: Launch of HMS Exeter, Neptune Yard, 17.15 Tuesday 25th April, 1978 Title: Sponsor: Mrs Joan Mulley wife of Rt.Hon. Frederick William Mulley, P.C. M.P. Secretary of State for Defence Title: Builders: Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd. A member of British Shipbuilders The film begins with a low angle shot showing the grey painted hull and bow of HMS Exeter on the slipway. The red coloured superstructure as far as it's completed stands out against the sky. In front of the bow of the ship is the red, white and blue decorated launch platform, with union jack flag flying from the top. Two large dock cranes can be seen nearby. The next shot shows the stern of the ship, and as the camera pans left it reveals the length of the vessel. The Ensign flag flies from a temporary rail on the stern. A champagne bottle decorated with red, white and blue ribbon is held in a cradle at the end of a metal arm or pole positioned just in front of the bow. The captain[?] introduces another senior officer to other members of the crew on the dockside prior to the launch. A brass band play, sea cadets play drums. The cadets are inspected by the senior officer seen earlier being presented to members of the crew. Official guests and other dignitaries start to arrive in coaches, they walk past the drumming cadets. A sea cadet hands out sheets or programmes as the guests make their way up the steps to the launch platform. An older man in a bowler hat also gives sheets of paper to the guests as they go up the steps. A number of military personnel in uniform are amongst the guests arriving. A woman holds a small posy of flowers, she chats to another woman. In between a man in a light coloured mackintosh listens and laughs. He ushers the two women towards the steps leading to the launch platform. More guests arrive and walk up the steps. They make their way to their seats. The platform is enclosed by windows and a transparent flat roof. The man in the mackintosh talks to the woman with the posy, Mrs Joan Mulley, who will perform the launching of the ship. The man in the mackintosh looks at a piece of paper in his hand, which maybe the order of events for the official launch. A priest talks to the man in the mackintosh. The assembled guests stand as the priest speaks into a microphone. Other guests look intently at their orders of service. They all sing a hymn. Down below the platform, cadets, workers and other onlookers gather. Mrs Mulley speaks a few words into the microphone. She then pulls a lever which releases the arm and cradle holding the champagne bottle. A long shot shows the bottle smashing against the bow of the ship. Mrs Mulley and guests watch for movement of the ship on the slipway, and slowly the ship starts to slide down the slipway away from the platform. The man in the mackintosh encourages the cheering in the crowd urging them via the microphone to give three cheers, 'hip, hip hooray'. The camera pans up to the ships rail near the bow, where workers look down on the activities below as the ship slides towards the river. As the ship gathers speed and slides away from the camera. Mrs Mulley and the guests wave at the ship. A long shot shows the ship entering the river at the end of the slipway. A shot taken further down the slipway corridor sees the ship fully afloat on the river. On the platform one of the guests shakes Mrs Mulley's hand as he speaks to her. He also shakes the hand of the man in the mackintosh Other guests come forward to shake hands. Mrs Mulley talks to other guests, the Mayoress in the crowd looks on. On the platform all the remaining guests pose for the camera, which pans right to Mrs Mulley. General views of the guests follow chatting amongst themselves. On the dockside Mrs Mulley is escorted by the man in the mackintosh. Mrs Mulley gets into a limousine along with some other guests. The limousine slowly moves off and drives away from the dock. Other guests come down the steps from the launch platform, Royal Navy officers salute some of the ships company who are standing at the foot of the steps. General views follow of more guests coming down the platform steps. The final shot shows the Exeter being manoeuvred in the river by tugs. Credit: Filmed by: Turners Film Productions, Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Context Ladies who launch at Swan Hunters Royal Navy top brass at the launch of the HMS Exeter destroyer from the world famous Swan Hunters shipyard on Tyneside. A Swan Hunters launch takes place at the Neptune Yard in Walker in the last decades of British shipbuilding. HMS Exeter slides briskly into the Tyne after the wife of the Secretary of State for Defence performs the traditional christening of this British Navy ship, a ceremony reserved for women of rank since the mid-19th century. Swan Hunters became part of British Shipbuilders on 1 July 1977 following the nationalisation of the industry, working almost exclusively on MOD contracts until its closure in May 1993. The business had launched ships that became famous worldwide, including in 1906 the Cunard passenger liner Mauretania, “queen of the ocean”, which held the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic for 22 years. Swan Hunters regularly commissioned their own films and video of ship construction, launches and sea trials from the 1950s until around 1981, many from Newcastle-based Turners Film Productions.