Film ID:
NEFA 21991



Visitor Tabs


A travelogue that takes a look at the course of the River Tyne from the countryside to the sea. Using the device of a Canadian Merchant Seaman who is curious about his family background, he shares a train journey with a schoolteacher who tells him the history of Northumberland and the development of industry in the area. The rural life and scenery of the mid – 1940’s is captured as well as that of industrial Tyneside.


Title: Merlin Films Presents River Tyne

Credits: Directed and Photographed by A H Luff

Recorded by: Harry Reynolds

Edited by: Ralph Kemplen

Produced by: Michael Hankinson


Credits: The Schoolmaster – Bob Griffin

The Merchant Seaman – Stan Blackmore

‘Sweet Hesleyside’ played by the Northumbrian pipes of Jack Armstrong

‘Blaydon Races’ sung by the Walker Shipyard Choir.

‘The Water of Tyne’ & ‘Newcastle’ sung by the Dunelm Singers

Orchestral music arranged by – Christian Darnton


The film opens with a view from a boat heading towards the entrance to the river Tyne, the two pier lights and North Shields and South Shields clearly seen.

A pilot boat out at sea cuts to on board the vessel as it enters the Tyne. A Canadian Merchant Seaman is on board and talks to the skipper about his family connections with the area. The skipper explains he is from South Shields.

The film changes to a classroom, where the teacher is writing on a blackboard. The blackboard has a map of Northumberland on it. The teacher writes the locations of various towns on the map in response to questions he asks his class. Of South Shields he says it’s the town ‘where the Tyne pilots come from’; of North Shields ‘where the fishing fleet is’.

The film cuts back to the pilot boat and the skipper describes North Shields as they sail past.

Back in the classroom the teacher writes Jarrow on his map and also adds Newcastle and Blaydon in response to answers from his pupils. The teacher then adds the courses of the North and South Tyne and the route of Hadrian’s Wall to his map.

The film cuts to show the teacher heading to a railway station to catch a train to Wall in Northumberland. At the station, he meets the Canadian sailor who is also heading to the same destination, as it is his ancestral home.

The train pulls into the station, and the film cuts to a tranquil river scene. In voiceover the teacher describes the Roman occupation in Northumberland, the remains of a Roman fort comes into view.

A general view of Hadrian’s Wall follows snaking its way across the landscape, closer views show detail of the structure of the wall.

A view of Bamburgh Castle is followed by ruins of another castle where stones from Hadrian’s Wall have been used in the structure of the building. A view of a small church is next.

Other castles feature in the story with views of Alnwick Castle and Warkworth Castle.

General views follow of the Cheviot Hills, as the teacher describes a battle at Chevy Chase. General views follow of sheep grazing on rough grassland then the film cuts to a view of a moorland stream.

More general views follow of the Northumberland landscape accompanied on the soundtrack by Northumbrian pipes.

The film cuts to a farmer collecting hay in a field using a horse and cart. Another farmer collects mounds of hay by attaching a rope or chain and using a winch to haul them onto a flatbed cart.

The next view shows a corn thresher at work, probably driven by a steam traction engine.

The film cuts to a view of planted forest at Kielder, containing some 100,000 acres of trees.

At a quarry an explosion brings down tons of rock. The rock is part of the Great Whin Sill which lies partly in the North Pennines and partly in Northumberland and stretches from Teesdale northwards towards Berwick.

Tubs of the rock make their way down a quarry railway, followed by another explosion with more rock to be retrieved. A worker breaks up some of the rock with a sledgehammer.

The film cuts to a sheepdog at work herding sheep, a shepherd directs the dog.

Next is Bellingham Fair and a horse race. A large crowd watches proceedings as the riders line up for a jumping competition.

The film moves to a man fishing from the rocky shore of a river.

At Hexham the film shows Fourstones Paper Mill, which has been in business since 1763. Here straw is used to make paper. A man uses a fork to load the straw into a vat; another man inspects the pulp that is produced. 30,000 gallons of water is required to make a ton of paper. General views follow of the paper making machines. The paper is gathered into huge rolls as it comes off the production line.

Outside on the riverbank a worker clears the end of an outflow pipe as it enters the river. General views follow showing the North and South Tyne confluence.

At Prudhoe there is a chemical works, then the film cuts to the barrel of a large gun made at the Elswick factory of Vickers Armstrong. Out on the moors the guns are tested.

Next there is a view at pithead of a coal mine. A shift finishes and men get out of a pit cage at the surface. General views show men walking to and from shifts.

A miner washes himself at the pit showers; another man washes himself from water in a tin bath in front of the fire at home.

The film cuts to men carrying brass instruments into a large house, presumably to rehearse.

Leeks are grown traditionally for show. A large leek is measured for girth in a competition. The leek is place on a display rack with a ‘first prize’ label attached to it.

In his pigeon loft a man holds a pigeon in his hand while talking to a friend at the door. The pigeon is released and flies off.

A game of quoits is next, a man throws a quoit that lands over the white peg placed in the ground as a target.

The next sport is bowls where a referee measures the distance between two competitors’ bowls and the smaller target bowl known as the jack.

Football follows on with a view of the teams coming onto the pitch, followed by a view of supporters in the stands.

A brief view shows two coal tubs, traveling by gravity along a track.

Next a view of railway pioneer George Stephenson’s birthplace, a cottage near Wylam in Northumberland. A steam engine passes along a track in front of the cottage. From a railway track further away, the cottage is seen in the middle distance from a carriage as the train passes by.

The film cuts to a high angle view of the famous ‘diamond’ railway crossing just outside Newcastle Central station. A steam engine negotiates the complex junction as it  heads into the station; a local service electric multiple unit heads out of the station.

In the station itself, another steam engine brings a passenger train to a halt at one of the platforms. A close up of the station name board on the platform is followed by doors opening on the train and passengers spilling out. An electric multiple unit also stops and passengers leave the carriages. Passengers pass through gates where they surrender their tickets to an inspector.

General views follow of city streets. Workers leave work (possibly Swan Hunters) followed by crowds in the city centre. A high angle view shows a corner of the Theatre Royal building where Lawson’s, a local confectioner throughout Tyneside and the North East, has one of it’s many shops.

Next, a view of Newcastle’s famous keep, a steam train passes in the foreground. A general view of the Tyne Bridge, cuts to views of cranes and shipbuilding yards of the Tyne. Riveters are seen hard at work on the hull of a ship.

A view follows on the river Tyne from a boat travelling towards a ship moored at the quayside, other views of ships follow. The film ends with a view of a ship leaving the Tyne [possibly the pilot vessel seen at the beginning of the film]

End Credit –  A Coat of Arms [Representing the British Council[?]