Film ID: NEFA 14158 Video of 14158 A Ship is Launched A SHIP IS LAUNCHED 1957 Visitor TabsDescription Sponsored film of the launching of the Katsina Palm from the shipyards of Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson in 1957 in Newcastle. The Katsina Palm was built for the Palm Line shipping company, and destined to work primarily in West Africa. The ship was capable of carrying 10,000 tons of cargo and could travel at 14 knots; she was launched by the wife of the Palm Line’s director, Mrs A. Hoffman. Title: Palm Line Presents Title: A Ship is Launched Title: An Editorial Film Production The film opens with a view of a Red Ensign flag fluttering in the wind, the shipyards of the River Tyne visible in the background. View of a tug boat, smoke billowing from its funnel. Consecutive views of cargo ships moored at a dockside. The Katsina Palm is under construction. Scaffolding and girders surround the ship. View of the ship’s bow as a crane looms over the top. A riveting team is at work on the ship’s deck. One worker heats the rivets in a furnace then tosses one across the deck to another worker who positions the rivet in its socket and drives the molten rivet home with a pneumatic hammer. Welders are also at work, joining sections of bulkheads, deckhouses, the funnel, and stern assembly. View of the Stern of the Katsina Palm, showing its name and registered port (Liverpool) painted in large letters. Shot of the ship’s propeller, and nearby, a wooden scaffolding framework. Sister ships are under construction in neighbouring docks, view of a laid keel. Views of shipyard workers surrounded by rusting metal sheets and panels, as they work on welding and cutting. A pre-fabricated section of metal sheeting is craned upwards. A worker operates a drilling machine, cutting holes is steel sheets. View of the stern of the ship, its lettering and red ensign flag visible. Bow shot of the Katsina Palm, the Palm Line’s crest painted on the bow, and a temporary platform assembled at the foot of the ship’s hull where the launching ceremony will take place. Close-up bow shot: a crane moves above the ship’s deck, and a Union Flag flies in the foreground. Close-up of the Palm Line crest; the shot then pans over to the ship’s name, painted on the bow. View of the unpainted ship’s cabin. A worker paints a section of the metalwork. Other shipyard workers grease the runway along which the ship will slide when it is launched. Close-up view of the river, where a marker sticks up measuring the depth of the tide: 4 and a half feet. Close-up of the ship’s propeller. A pair of workers knock out the wooden chocks supporting the ship’s hull with sledge hammers, hitting the chocks alternately. Close-up of the bottle of Champagne which is to be used to launch the ship. The bottle has been wrapped in red and white ribbons. Close-up of a sign pointing, “To The Launch."”. Mrs A. Hoffman, wife of the Palm Line’s managing director, leads a group of dignitaries up the staircase to the launching platform. She carries a bouquet of flowers. A man chalks a drawing of a palm tree onto the ship’s hull for Mrs Hoffman to aim at when she smashes the Champagne bottle. Mrs Hoffman names and blesses the ship, “I name this ship Katsina Palm. May God bless her, and all who sail in her”. She smashes the bottle against the ship’s hull. View of the ship’s bow as it slides away into the river, the camera focussing on the Palm Line crest. View of the ship’s propeller as it gradually sinks into the river water. The ship slides past crowds standing on the dockside. View of the empty slipway, the ship now floating in the river beyond. Tug boats approach the ship. Title: The End Context A new ship on the Swan Hunters slipway The famous Swan Hunter shipyards on the Tyne grease the slipway for another stirring launch in the prosperous 1950s. The clang, bustle and sparks of the welders pave the way for the stirring drama of a launch for the largest cargo liner working West African trade routes, built for the Palm Line. More than 1,600 ships were constructed at the Tyneside shipyards of Swan Hunters, including the famous Mauretania liner launched for Cunard, ‘queen of the ocean’ and a transport marvel at the time. In the 1960s Swan Hunters embraced the era of the mammoth tanker in Wallsend with the launch of the 253,000-ton Esso Northumbria. This was the largest ship ever built in Britain at the time, so large that it took up 2 berths and had to be launched side-on into the Tyne. The Glasgow Herald reported that, as the ship gathered speed, 1750 tons of drag chains and seven anchors were needed ‘to keep her from forming an instant bridge to the other bank of the river’. Since Swan Hunters’ demise in 2007, the giant cranes, which once dominated the Tyneside skyline, have been slowly dismantled, and towed to Indian shipyards in 2014. The iconic link to shipbuilding on the River Tyne has finally disappeared from the landscape.