Film ID:
NEFA 12753



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A promotional film by Turners Film Unit for the North East Development Council, which records the North East’s recent industrial, commercial, social and cultural successes to encourage businesses and families to move to the region. Includes footage of education, art and entertainment, shopping, and industry from Northumberland down to Tees Valley.

A full frame illustrated graphic depicts Great Britain as a dense mass of arrows with all points facing the North East of England. Before the titles appear, a montage sequence describes the North East’s distance from London: a rear window view of high speed motorway driving; a train passes a low-angle camera at high speed while a passenger is served tea in the dining car; a pilot navigating with aerial views over rural countryside, “… and this is the North East.”

Title: This is the North East

Cut to aerial shot of industrial development:

Title: Land of Opportunity.
Title: Produced for the North East Development Council
Title: by Turners Film Productions, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England.

Aerial shots of Durham overlaid by:

Credit: Production: Brian Nicol A.R.B.S.

Credit: Photography: Bryan Coplestone A.I.B.P.

Credit: Narration: Brian Redhead

The film begins with a colour-coded map of North East England, showing the relative sizes and locations of Northumberland, County Durham, and the North Riding of Yorkshire. A quick montage of shots show the variety of North Eastern scenery: cows roam a field in open countryside; a tranquil village; a panorama of Sunderland houses; the Tyne Bridge as seen from the riverbank on the South East side; a high angle view of traffic circling a Gateshead roundabout next to high-rise tower blocks, offices, and warehouses; cars pass Tynemouth houses; cars parked outside South Shields shops; a view of traffic travelling southbound past the Grand Hotel on Swainson Street in Hartlepool; Middlesbrough Town Hall from Albert Road; Darlington High Row.

The film switches to aerial views of factories and warehouses – “the great industries for which the North East is famed” – before introducing optimistic and sunny architectural shots of newly built office and residential towers. The commentary describes the changing urban landscape.

Scenes of building and development: a red-coated woman walks beneath several half-constructed towers; new housing estates. The film showcases Peterlee, “designed for spacious living in a modern environment” cutting to general views of the town centre and the red brick Peterlee Memorial Methodist Church on Bede Way. Pedestrians pass by sweeping concrete landscapes amid angular modern houses and wide-paved streets. The film then moves to Newton Aycliffe town centre, where women are standing in front of a glass-clad building. A woman pushes a pram behind a woman reading a newspaper on a bench. Several shots then contrast privately built new homes with residential estates in town and country, including a view of Beacon House, Whitley Bay.

Exploring the theme of education, and describing the North East’s burgeoning provision for primary, secondary modern, grammar, and private independent schools as well as technical colleges, there are scenes of children playing in a playground and classroom learning. Again, there is a focus on architectural change and the film shows a sequence of various school buildings with coloured facades and patterned brickwork.

As a bus passes a Technical College, interior shots record a lecture where a teacher demonstrates a cutaway model of a piston. Practical study follows, with several workshop scenes: students inspect a white Mini Cooper which sits on an elevated platform. Other students operate lathes, and pour liquid metal into a cast. At the South Shields Marine and Technical College, students are operating a model ship's cargo crane. Girls are shown to benefit from modernised education too: in the Domestic Science studio, girls in turquoise aprons bake cakes and pipe icing, surrounded by brightly coloured Formica-topped kitchen work surfaces. Durham and Newcastle universities are also featured.

Turning to art and entertainment, the film features both exterior shots and exhibitions at the Municipal Museum and Art Gallery in Sunderland’s Mowbray Gardens, the Shipley Gallery in Gateshead, and Bowes Museum. This is followed by a sequence of theatre poster banners, and flickering neon club and restaurant signs, including Wahkiu Restaurant, Michael’s Club, and Barbeque Express. Chefs prepare lavish dinners. Pink cocktail is splashed into a glass over a shiny maraschino cherry. Couples dance over a colourfully lit disco floor. Dice are thrown the length of a gambling table as men and women cluster around.

The film highlights the region’s television infrastructure showing the Tyne Tees Television building.

Shopping is the next theme, and the film picks out several noted buildings and shopping districts in North Eastern towns and cities: Binns department store, looking North on Fawcet Street, Sunderland; the Jopling’s building, having been rebuilt in 1956, on the corner of John Street and St Thomas’ Street, Sunderland. Along Grey Street in Newcastle a white-coated police officer directs traffic before cutting to the chequerboard pavements, covered walkways, and “crisp fresh lines of Jarrow shopping precinct”.

Another montage sequence profiles North Eastern sporting and leisure activities. Two women and a man amble past flowerbeds in Carlisle Park, Morpeth, with arms linked. Horse racing at Gosforth Park. Football, rugby, archery, golf, swimming, and shooting. There are brief scenes of open countryside at Kielder Forest and Northumberland National Park. Pastoral scenes of mechanised agriculture follow. Wind sweeps over corn in front of Roseberry Topping with the North York Moors in the background. Tractors pull hayrakes and ploughs. Sheep stand in pens at an agricultural show where cattle have been adorned with rosettes. A brass band plays as horses and riders parade behind. A tractor and trailer pass rural stone houses. General views of rivers; children and an adult paddle in the shallows.

Continuing the theme of natural beauty and outdoor activity, a team of rowers pass along the river Wear below Durham Cathedral. There are high angle shots of wooden groins stretching across the sands of Whitby beach and panoramic views over the chalets towards the Spa Pavilion. Still in Whitby, there are views of the harbour below St Mary’s Church and then Whitby Abbey from Captain Cook’s monument. Further North along the coast, the film visits Runswick Bay and looks back towards the village from the beach. Populated beach scenes are interspersed with depictions of rugged, rural, coastline. Revellers enjoy themselves on a beach, and later in the outdoor pool at Tynemouth.

A fisherman in denim dungarees smiles as he repairs a crab pot.

The next sequence explores the North East’s archaeological heritage. The film shows Northumberland’s famous castles, Dunstanburgh Castle from the beach, Bamburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle, and Warkworth Castle. Also: Raby Castle near Staindrop in County Durham, and Houseteads Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall.

The film reminds the viewer at this point that North Eastern life has not always been idyllic, and cuts to a view of terraced houses backing right onto a colliery, followed by black and white archive footage of a building being demolished, “grimly recalling depression and unemployment in an area once vulnerable through its overdependence on coal and heavy industry”.

Short sequences of industrial processes and labour follow: shipbuilding, a modern coal plant, steel production. The text “Davy-United” can be seen painted in the background. Men operate electronic terminals. A strip of molten metal is pulled along rollers. Commer vans are in production at a factory in Gateshead. The finishing touches are put on a “Lewiss Mobile Shop” van. Swarms of glass bottles containing antibiotics move down a production line before being packed by a woman into a Glaxo box with the paper insert “Streptomycin Sulphate”. Next come close-ups of machinery producing brilliant bright green soaps and detergents. Thick elongated bricks are shunted along the machinery before being cut up into cakes. Salt is shown being refined on Teesside, and then poured into packages.

The film visits a beer bottling plant and a Newcastle tobacco factory where cradles of thousands of cigarettes are stacked up by hand. Factory and production scenes at a Tynemouth sweets factory, and a South Shields biscuits firm – likely Wright’s or Kemp’s Biscuits. Shots of women working weaving and packing machines follow, as bright floral prints are cut and sewn to make bed jackets and Slenderella lingerie. A carpet factory in Durham is featured, and again the film offers close-ups of its weaving machines. There are shots of the factory floor at a Stockton door manufacturer’s where women apply decorative veneers to door frames. Various shots of vats of paints being mixed, yellow and teal. A worker tests the colour with a paddle. A quick montage of laminated plastics: coloured patterns, roses, false wood.

Shots of soldering and electronics in production which cut to a man working inside a turbine. Men blow glass by hand. This is followed by a kaleidoscopic sequence of light reflecting off spinning glass tubes. Un-mechanised industry is featured with an over-the-shoulder shot of a man hand tying fishing flies at either Hardy’s or Grey’s of Alnwick. While ball bearings are being assembled, the commentary informs the viewer that, “ex miners and their families provide just the kind of labour needed”. Moving towards heavier industry: crankshafts are ground and balanced at Hartlepool. A giant crankshaft, built for a marine diesel engine, is lowered by a man in orange overalls and a flat-cap. The film shows a giant metal cylinder built for the emerging nuclear industry being launched into water, it is labelled, “Head Wrightson. Dungness”.

The City of Swansea ship moors at Lackenby Dock.

Aerial shots of rivers and estuaries precede general views of Tyneside, ships in dock, and cranes unloading cargo.

The film highlights the developing transport networks: a passenger vessel leaves the Tyne bound for Norway, and civilians exit an aircraft at Woolsington. The film focuses on the new rail marshalling yard at Thornaby on Tees. A train approaches points on the track. There are brief shots of the British Road Transport Warehouse, the motorway, and Team Valley Estate.

Construction and development is ongoing and a sign advertising Killingworth Township Estate is shown before the film cuts to steel girder framed buildings being assembled.

Coal continues to contribute to the North East’s development: National Coal Board railway rolling stock pass under a coal facility on their way to future use in the gas industry. Shots of silos and pipes synchronise the commentary. General aerial shots of towns and their factories follow, and specifically the art-deco Wills Building in Newcastle.

As the film draws to an end, a woman walks down a path in a misty park as sunlight cuts through the foliage. Aerial shots of smoky riverside shipyards, Durham by air.

Title (over aerial shot of green fields): This is the North East – Land of Opportunity.