Film ID:
NEFA 21210

LAUNCH OF THE QUEEN ELIZABETH 27TH SEPTEMBER 1938: LAUNCH OF HMS EDINBURGH 31ST MARCH 1938: LAUNCH OF DOMINION MONARCH 27TH JULY 1938

1938

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is an amateur compilation of documentary films shot in 1938. The first film records the presence of British Royal Navy E-class destroyer ships HMS Echo, HMS Eclipse and HMS Express on the heavily industrial River Tyne at Newcastle in the 1930s, probably in preparation for World War Two. The second film documents a famous launch by the Queen Mother, with Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, of the Cunard White Star Line cruiser, Queen Elizabeth, from the Clydebank shipyard of John Brown and Company. Next, the launch of the HMS Edinburgh battleship cruiser takes place from the Wallsend shipyard of Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The third film records the launch of the Dominion Monarch passenger cargo liner from Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson shipyards for the Shaw Savill and Albion Company. The ship later served as a troop ship during the Second World War. This compilation is part of the Newcastle & District Amateur Cinematographers Association (ACA) production. 

The opening sequences contain footage of British Royal Navy E-class destroyers on the River Tyne in the 1930s. Sailors stand to attention in formation on the deck of HMS Echo (H23) as the ship sails by. The ship is towed by steam tugs.

The HMS Eclipse (H08) destroyer moves in to dock on the Tyne. Royal Navy officers and sailors are on deck. Various shots record sailors on board preparing for the ship to dock. There are close-ups of the officers and men working on deck, the ship itself, and the Royal Navy flag blowing in the breeze.

A general view records the Royal Navy ship HMS Express (H61), built and launched by Swan Hunter in 1934, as it is towed by steam tugs up the Tyne. The crew are on deck as it moves to dock on the quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne. The quayside is crowded with ships and tugs, as the HMS Express moves beside the HMS Eclipse to dock.

Title: Launch of the Queen Elizabeth 27th September 1938

General views of a rainy crossroads in a Scottish town (probably Glasgow) open this sequence. Two policemen on horseback in waterproof capes appear to be escorting VIP cars.

The film then cuts to the Clydebank shipyard of John Brown and Company where the Cunard White Star Line cruiser, Queen Elizabeth, is on the slipway for its launch day. A huge crowd are gathered at the ship yard, with film crew and photographers on a raised platform in the crowd, loudspeakers erected nearby. People also appear to be stationed at the top structure of one of the cranes.

The crowd cheer and wave flags as the VIP guests and royal party walk beside the quayside to the launch zone, including Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. The Queen Elizabeth cruiser launches down the slipway, with much waving of flags from the crowd. The crowd then begin to disperse, some running out of the shipyard.

Back on a rainy city street, Bentleys and other cars are parked up at the kerbside. There are close-ups of luggage being loaded (or unloaded) by hotel porters and people’s feet rushing past on the cobbled street in the pouring rain.

Title: Launch of HMS Edinburgh 31st March 1938

A man and child walk hand-in-hand on the quayside beside the huge battleship cruiser, HMS Edinburgh, to be launched at the Wallsend shipyard of Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Close-up of the ship’s propeller. Flags and streamers decorate the ship.

A band leader conducts a brass band at the launch, large crowds in the background. Shipyard workers knock out the keel blocks. Large crowds are beside the ship berth. In the foreground, the band leader continues to conduct.

People are also crowded on the launch platform. The lever is released and the champagne bottle smashes against the ship’s bow for the launch. The ship slowly moves down the slipway into the River Tyne, clouds of dust kicked up by the drag chains as they break the ship’s progress in the water. A shot of the crowd follows. The ship is turned by the tugs in the Tyne.

As the band leader continues to conduct the brass band, a crowd of altar boys and priests (?) in cassocks and surplices stand beside them in a group.

Lady Gumley, wife of Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, descends the steps to the launch platform along with other distinguished guests, a bouquet of flowers in her arms. Many of the men are wearing top hats. There’s a brief shot of the Royal Navy flag flying.

This section closes with a general view of the Wallsend sign above the entrance to the shipyard, a few people leaving after the launch.

Title: Launch of Dominion Monarch 27th July 1938

This sequence opens with close-ups of the ship’s propeller and the underside of the Dominion Monarch passenger cargo liner on the slipway, to be launched by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson shipyards for the Shaw Savill and Albion Company, later to serve as a troop ship during the Second World War.

Shipyard workers knock out the keel blocks on the slipway. A low angle shot shows the name of the ship painted on its bow. The drag chains are piled on the slipway, the ship still in berth.

A band leader conducts a brass band. Shipyard workers are on the scaffolding beside the berth awaiting the launch. The ship moves down the slipway, drag chains kicking up clouds of dust as they break the ship’s path in the water. Tugs arrive to tow the ship. There are shots of the crowd and the guests on the launch platform. Tugs tow the ship on the River Tyne to its fit out berth. There’s a close-up of the guests on the launch platform beside the microphone. Guests for the launch included Mr & Mrs J Macmillan MD of Shaw Savill, Lord Essendon Chairman Shaw Savill, Mr. J. Denham Christie, Lady Essendon and Mr. C. S. Swan Chairman of Swan Hunter.

The crowds begin to depart after the launch.  The band continues to play. A group of altar boys and clerics in cassocks and surplices are gathered at the shipyard. General view of the crowd and the band members.

[The launch is repeated in the next section]

Guests are gathered on the launch platform, including Lady Essendon. The ship moves down the slipway. Shots of VIPs are intercut with the cheering crowd. The guests begin to leave the launch platform, some shaking hands with Mr. C. S. Swan, Chairman of Swan Hunter.

[Colour film – edit appears out of chronological sequence and may be of the Dominion Monarch launch]

People arrive at a ship launch. A shipyard worker is perched on the slipway beneath the huge ship. Guests are in formal attire, women in hats and carrying bouquets. The ship moves down the slipway after the naming ceremony. A VIP guest smiles to camera.

The champagne bottle smashes against the ship’s bow during the naming ceremony. The ship moves down the slipway. A crowd of children and adults lean over the berth to watch the ship launch. There are shots of the crowd beside the slipway and of the guests, VIP men in bowler hats and top hats.

Sacks are unloaded from a train. Brief shot of steam engine 1177.

The film then cuts to a man in a bowler hat and formal suit on the deck of a cruise ship. Passengers are seated on one of the deck levels enjoying the views from the ship. A final shot is of a ship’s funnel belching out smoke.