Film ID:
NEFA 10403

A SHIP THERE WAS

1952

Visitor Tabs

Description

A documentary drama produced by Brunner Lloyd Productions for the National Savings Committee (a quasi-government agency) that depicts social mobility in the North East. The story follows a ship yard worker's dreams of putting to sea in a ship he has helped build, but finds his savings better spent on helping his son through merchant naval college. The film features footage of the ocean-going liner, Ocean Monarch, built on Tyneside by Vickers Armstrong in 1951.

Title: Grateful acknowledgement is made to Vickers-Armstrongs’ Naval Yard, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Furness, Withy & Co., Ltd, for their co-operation and assistance.

Titles (overlay a still image of a cruise liner ship):-
Credits: The Players
Joe - Bob Griffin
Lena - Sal Sturgeon
David - MacGregor
Ginger - Stan Preston
Marine Superintendent - L.G.Taylor

The film opens with a shot of a cruise liner. The narrator infers that ships built in Northern England are destined to travel further than the men that built them. The shot then cuts to a woman leisurely jumping into a pool on board a cruise liner.

On the street outside the yard a man plays an accordion while the narrator outlines a romanticised description of the honest and humble working class man.

A man in the street stops the accordionist who's been playing an Italian tune, and requests that he plays a British song.

The scene then cuts to Joe Henderson and two friends playing dominoes at a working men’s club. Joe leaves the club, and in the evening light outside he surveys a familiar scene while smoking his pipe. Cranes at Vickers-Armstrongs’ Naval Yard are silhouetted in the background. Joe turns round and there is a sweeping shot along the river which rests on the construction of the cruise liner, The Ocean Monarch which is lit up.

At home, Joe’s son David is talking to his mother during a meal. David also conceals, at the table, a maritime theory book within a cowboy novel in order to hide it from his mother. Joe returns home, where he and his wife make conversation.

The film cuts to Joe and his friends releasing homing pigeons from their baskets. Next a wide angle view of the seaside, and a shot of Marsden Rock as Joe and his son walk along the beach. A close up follows as they talk about the future. Joe suspects there is something troubling his son. David acknowledges this but prefers not to reveal his thoughts.

The scene cuts back to the shipyard with a shot of a shipping crane and a passing barge. General views of shipbuilding tasks where Joe and his son are seen working. General view of the shipyard. Joe and two friends talk together. Another cut reveals Joe selling his pigeons and returning home.

Another domestic scene with conversation between Joe and his wife. Joe reveals his intention of fulfilling a long held dream of seeing the world and to cruise on the maiden voyage of the Ocean Monarch. They also talk of their concerns for David's future.  A cut follows to show David attending an interview at a merchant shipping company.

Joe visits a branch of Thomas Cook, the travel agents, where he picks up every guide to foreign destinations in the window. Joe bumps into a passer by as he leaves and drops his travel brochures. At this point his friend Ginger appears and Joe's intentions are revealed as he picks up the brochures from the pavement.

At home again, Joe studies his brochures. David arrives home from work and his mother hands him a letter. David reads it and hands it to his father. Joe turns to his wife and announces that David has been accepted to Merchant Navy College. David is pleased but wants to decline the acceptance because of  financial costs. Joe decides to give David the money he has been saving for the cruise he promised himself.

There is a cut to a close up of a steam valve blowing, and then a panoramic shot of men going to work at the shipyard. The camera then focuses on Joe, who relates to his friend Ginger his hopes for David’s future career.

There follows a montage of Ginger relating Joe’s selflessness to many of his co-workers. The yard manager requests that Joe comes to his office. Joe is working using a plank to flatten some wooden boards. In the manager’s office Joe is told that although the company cannot send him on a world cruise, they will allow him to sail on the sea trials of Ocean Monarch for three days off the coast of Scotland.

The film cuts to a view of Joe looking seasick and wet from rough seas as he hangs on to a deck rail on the Ocean Monarch. Another cut to the social club where Joe returns from his adventures to be greeted by his friends in song. A change of scene shows the launch of the merchant ship Joe was working on (the Broughton County), and on which his son will now sail. David, Joe and his wife cheer the ship down the slipway. The final scene returns to Joe's home where a close up of Joe’s holiday brochures relates that he has resigned himself to remaining at home. The film ends with Joe throwing the brochures on the fire.

Title: National Savings
Title: The End