Film ID:
NEFA 13209



Visitor Tabs


A documentary produced by the Sunderland Educational Development Association on the construction of the cargo ship "Tjibantjet". Made at Bartram & Sons yards in Sunderland, the film takes the viewer through each phase of construction from its design until its launch on the 3rd October 1951. The film uses a number of simple animations and drawings to explain many of the key stages.

Title: A Ship is Born.

Title: Sunderland Builds a Cargo Ship.

Title: Produced by Sunderland Education Authority in co-operation with Messrs Bartram & Sons Ltd, Shipbuilders, Sunderland.

Title: Directed and photographed by members of the Sunderland Educational Development Association.

Over the titles a ship is being launched from a slipway into the water. This is followed by the River Wear and a paddle steamer tug boat identified as the "Roker" in front of another larger ship in the background. People can be seen watching the launch. The paddle steamer can be seen again on the river.

Title: With acknowledgement and thanks to: The Sunderland Cine Society, The River Wear Commissioners, Messrs Lloyd’s Shipping Agency. Map extracts of N.E. coast reproduced from their 1:375,000 map of England and Wales by kind permission of Messrs Geo. Philip & Son Ltd. Map extract of Sunderland from the 2 ½" O.S. map by kind permission of the Controller of H.M. Stationary Office.

The film shows a map of the N.E. Coast from Whitby in the south to Ashington in the north. Sunderland is at the centre.

Title: The shipbuilding ports of North East England build approximately 2/5 of the total tonnage launched each year in the United Kingdom.

Another map showing the N.E. Coast again with arrows pointing out the major shipbuilding centres. A semi-circle surrounds Sunderland.

Title: Sunderland, with its eight yards, is the largest shipbuilding town in the world.

There is an Ordnance Survey map of Sunderland. This is followed by another map showing the shipyard berths on the River Wear.

Title: The building of a ship is somewhat like the building of a house.

Title: First the foundation - the keel - is laid. Then the first floor and uprights follow – the tank bottom and frame.

The film shows a model of a ship's keel with the frames and first floor being animated into it.

Title: Partition walks - bulkheads - followed by the various floors - decks. The outer walls - shell plating - complete the structure.

The model is shown again, demonstrating the above description.

Title: A shipbuilding yard employs workers in many trades and branches of engineering.

General view of shipyard workers, many on bicycles, crossing a small bridge and entering the shipyard.

Title: A ship is designed and drawings made of her many parts in the drawing and designing office.

A drawing office where men are working on various ship plans. Another man is working on a model of the ship's keel and taking measurements.

The sequence captures an exterior of the yard showing an empty berth. On either side of the berths, two other ships are under construction.

Title: Down the centre of the gently sloping berth piles of wooden keel blocks are built to take the keel plates and centre girder (keelson) of the ship.

General views of wooden keel blocks. A steel plate is lowered by a crane and is put into position by workmen. Overview of the berth, the girders now in place.

Title: The "Foundation" of the ship is the double bottom tank consisting of "Floors" built on each side of the centre girder.

A cross-section through the double tank which is lying on top of the centre girder.

Title: Looking down the berth from shore to sea or river.

Top-down view drawing: showing the keel blocks built along the centre line of the berth. Lines are drawn to indicate the keel plate and the centre girder. The bilge blocks and bores are added followed by the floor which is plated top and bottom to make the tank. This is followed by the ship at this point of construction with keel plates and centre girder in place. The film then shows the ships with the floor-plating in place.

Title: The tank is plated above and below. Note how it narrows towards the stem and stern, is higher and strengthened amidship to take the engines, and makes a flat bottom to the ship.

The film shows the above description with the narrowing of the keel at the stem and stern. The keel is resting on the keel blocks with men working under it. The film then shows the keel framing from underneath the ship.

Title: Frames are fastened to the tank by knee brackets.

General views of the knee brackets attached to the frames. Men are seen putting a knee bracket into position against a frame.

Title: The making of the frames begins in the designing office as offset distances from the vertical centre line of the ship.

The previous drawing appears again, now showing the vertical centre line of the ship, followed by lines representing the offsets. A curved line is drawn to represent midship's main-frame. Another curved line is drawn to show the fore-end frame.

Title: The frames are drawn full size on the loft floor and are "faired" or shaped to true lines.

The shape of a frame laid out on a floor, possibly in rope or line. One end is nailed into the floor. Men are building wooden frames into it.

Title: These true lines are scored or "scrieved" on scrieve boards which are laid down on the scrieve floor.

Two men are lifting the scrieve board and laying it down into a position on the floor. Another man is hammering pegs into a thin wooden frame into the floor. A number of other lines can be seen marked into the floor.

Title: From the scrieve board lines, thin metal guides or "setts" are fashioned.

A man walks along the metal guide with two hammers. He is using one hammer to lift the guide while he taps it with the other.

Title: Frames, white hot from the furnace are moulded to the setts on the bending blocks. Note the honeycombed steel floor to take the retaining pegs.

A group of men are extracting the white hot frame from a furnace with large tongs. It lands on the honeycombed steel floor. The men then begin hammering the frame being moulded to the setts with the bending blocks.

Title: The frames determine the size, shape and character of the ship.

This sequence shows the frame that are now in place behind the knee brackets as seen from both outside and inside the ship.

There is another drawing showing the port side of the ship with double bottom tank and higher strengthened middle portion to take engine. A line is drawn to represent the berth slope to sea of about ½" in 1 foot. Another drawing appears to show a cross section of the ship and marks out midships, starboard and port. The main frames are seen in place followed by the upper’teen deck frames. The film then shows a number of different of the framing on the ship.

The midships drawing returns to show a drawing representing the main deck beams, centre line bulkhead running fore and aft and the upper deck beams.

Title: Bulkheads are fitted, dividing the ship into holds, engine-room and other compartments.

The drawing of the midships shows the watertight bulkheads that divide the ship into seven parts; the main and upper deck before the ships frame that points out the centre ire and ‘thwartship bulkhead, forepeak and aftpeak watertight compartments and the engine room. The top deck is then in place and the hatchways are identified. The film then shows various views of the real ship and these locations.

Another drawing shows various views of the stern frame made of forged steel and the propeller shaft tunnel.

Title: The tunnel holds the propeller shaft, and is built on the tank top from engine-room to stern frame.

General views of the stern frame, propeller shaft and location of engine room. Men can be seen walking down the propeller shaft.

Title: The stern frame and the stem are fixed to the keel and the centre girder.

The stern frame drawing points out the stem which is prefabricated in the shipyard. The stem is put into position by a large crane.

Title: The sides of the ship are shell plated from midships to the fore and aft.

The shell plating is being lowered into position by crane. Men are working to correctly fit the plating and welding it to the frame.

Title: Welders at work. 184 º miles of welding are needed to plate the ship.

There are a number of views showing men welding plates to the ship.

Title: Alternative plate weldings are checked and examined by X-ray photograph.

A man in an office looks at an X-ray photograph. He is using a pen to follow the line of the weld.

Title: As the building progresses, the shaping cutting and riveting of steel goes on in the yard.

Men manoeuvre a steel plate into position while another man is shown welding. Another man cuts the steel using an acetylene torch. Two men then mark out rivet holes on a sheet of steel using a curved frame. A machine then punching holes in the steel. Two men are riveting hot metal rivets into the punched steel plate. One man is holding a rivet gun while the other is holding the molten rivet from the other side.

Title: No less than 227, 309 rivets go into the making of a ship.

There is a small furnace from which a worker removes a molten hot rivet using large tweezers. The rivet is put into position on the decking plate and another man uses a rivet gun to hammer the rivet into place. Another man is seen riveting another rivet from below. He is wearing glasses as a lot of sparks are produced from him riveting. There are several more views showing rivets being hammered into various steel plates around the ship.

Title: With deck and superstructure, the ship nears completion.

The drawing of the midship re-appears showing the bulkheads through all decks. The superstructure is also pointed out. General views of the actual superstructure being put into place onboard ship by various men. The propeller is also lowered into position and men work on chains.

Title: Important construction work, such as erecting the mast, must go on despite the weather.

A man is hanging onto the mast of the ship in very windy and wet conditions. Views of the bow and superstructure. A man is painting the name of the ship onto the side of the ship. The bow of the ship is shown with men working around it. The ship is identified as the "Tjibantjet".

Title: Launching ways are built between the keel blocks and the bilge blocks.

The midships drawing then shows the launching ways that consist of ground ways and sliding ways (cradles). These are separated by a layer of grease. The bilge blocks and shores are removed followed by the keel blocks. The weight of the ship is now on the launching ways. Men hammer out the keel blocks.

Title: Ground ways and cradle are given a thick coating of grease.

The sequence shows men greasing the ground ways until covered with a thick layer. The ground ways are then moved into position using ropes. There is a view of the bow of "Tjibantjet" which has now been painted. Men can be seen pouring a liquid from a watering can onto the greased ground way. Two men, one in a white boiler suit and the other in an office suit are standing nearby watching the work in progress.

Title: Sliding ways form a "cradle" in which the ship will eventually glide to the sea.

General view of a drawing of the ship on the sliding ways ready for launching. Launching ‘poppets’ are identified fore and aft, cradling the narrow stem and stern. The weight of the ship is now on the launching ways and the ship held by triggers on port and starboard. The triggers are shown on the drawing which can be knocked out by hand or electrically controlled. By releasing the triggers the ship and cradle slip down the standing ways to the sea. The drawing now animates the ship slipping down the standing way.

Title: When afloat, the ship is brought to rest by anchors and drag chains and is then taken over by tugs.

The film then shows the ship now on the launching way. Men then knock out blocks of wood, possibly the keel or bilge blocks. Two other men are hammering wooden pegs into the launching way.

Title: Removing keel blocks and bilge blocks places the weight of the ship on the launching way.

A man stands by to knock out the triggers with a hammer. A group of dignitaries standing near the ship, posing for photographs.

Title: The ceremony of naming the ship marks the beginning of the launch. The ceremony is usually performed by a lady closely connected with the owners of the ship.

A group of people are standing near the bow of the ship. The date of the launch is the 3rd of October, 1951. The man with the hammer  knocking out the triggers and the ship begins to slip down the launch way. The propeller enters the water first followed by the drag chains which create a lot of dust on the launch way as the bow of the ship enters the water. The drag chains are again seen pulled along by the weight of the ship. The paddle steamer tug boat 'Roker' comes alongside the ship. A group of men are then seen watching the launch. The tug boat pulls the ship past Roker Pier out to sea.

Title: She is taken to be fitted out with engines, instruments, furnishings, and gear of many kinds.

This scene records views around the fitted out "Tjibantjet". Men put the finishing touches to the ship such as the painting.

General view of the ship's wheel house and a man installing instrumentation. This is followed by the external ship's wheel near to its compass.

Title: Eventually, a proud ship, complete with her own power, she goes out for her trials.

General view of the tug boat pulls the "Tjibantjet" out to sea.

Title: She will soon be ready for her captain and crew, and able to undertake the work for which she was built.

The film ends with a view of the "Tjibantjet" sailing under her own steam out to sea.

Title: The End.