Film ID:
NEFA 19721



Visitor Tabs


Record of the launch of the cargo ship Irish Larch from the William Gray shipyard in West Hartlepool on 11th June 1956. The film was commissioned by William Gray & Company Ltd. The ship receives a Catholic blessing and is named and launched by sponsor Mrs F H Boland, wife of the Irish Ambassador to London. The Managing Director William Talbot Gray also attends.

A Catholic priest or bishop in clerical dress, accompanied by four altar boys, stands on a launch platform and performs the blessing of the cargo ship, Irish Larch, at the William Gray shipyard in West Hartlepool. He makes the sign of the cross as he administers the sacrament.

The launch party of guests and officials stand on the platform and watch the ceremony, including two boys in school uniform. One of the guests in the background consults his watch during the ceremony.

The priest splashes the red hull of the ship with holy water on a special brush during the blessing of the ship. In the foreground, a woman holds the launch bottle ready, which is wrapped in emerald green ribbon and paper.

The priest, altar boys and guests watch as the sponsor, Mrs F. H. Boland, ceremonially christens the ship with a bottle of champagne, smartly dressed in purple frock and hat with fur wrap. She swings the bottle against the bow of the ship.

Close-up of Mrs F H Boland and two men from rear, watching as the ship’s bow with painted numbered scales moves off down the slipway, revealing the cranes and scaffolding on the building berth quays beyond.

View of giant hull painted red, green and white as it moves down slipway. The ship enters the Central Dock at the William Gray shipyard. The drag chains raise clouds of dust. Shipyard workers watch beside the slipway.

Guests and officials mill around on the launch platform. A photographer speaks to William Talbot Gray and the sponsor Mrs. F.H. Boland, who now holds a bouquet of flowers. The two continue to watch the progress of the ship (not in shot.)

View towards harbour down slipway as steam tug boats help turn the Irish Larch in the harbour. Clouds of thick black smoke billow from the tugs. Shipyard workers watch beside the slipway and at the water’s edge.

Back on the launch platform men and women guests and officials mill around, and begin to arrange themselves for the group portrait.